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A Summer Gathering of Friends of Estonia

Celebrating modern style European democracy in Estonia

4 min read
© Marmo Luik

For the last seven years, Estonia has been busy celebrating those notable people such as investors, politicians, academics and artists, whose activities and advice have helped Estonia make great strides in its transformation into a modern style European democracy with a dynamic economy and vibrant culture.

The Estonia’s Friends International Meeting is a three-day event, which gives an opportunity to those who have any interest in Estonia to meet and exchange their ideas.  Every year a slightly different selection of friends is invited to the event, since the organisers would like Estonia to have a variety of good and influential friends all over the world. About 700 people have participated in the meetings in total over these seven years.

The Estonia’s Friends International Meeting

The Estonia’s Friends International Meeting  © Raigo Pajula

One of the goals of the event is to spread the message that Estonia is successful, interesting and open to investment. When introducing Estonia, entrepreneur Margus Reinsalu has found that when someone simply talks about Estonia to foreigners they will politely listen but can soon forget what you have told them. ‘However if these same people can visit Estonia and see for themselves how successful Estonia is, what great opportunities are here for investment and how beautiful the environment is, then they are sure to remember and return here,’ Reinsalu goes on.

The Estonia’s Friends International Meeting has a set program which allows the participants to contribute to discussions at the business seminar and symposium, meet the current President and Prime Minister, and participate in a varied cultural program as well.

The Estonia’s Friends International Meeting

The Estonia’s Friends International Meeting  © Raigo Pajula

The first Estonia’s Friends International Meeting was held in August 2010 in Tallinn, concurrent with the Day of Restoration of Independence festivities. Since 2011 the meeting has traditionally taken place at the beginning of July.  Many different topics have been

discussed at the symposia: the realities of post-crisis Europe, changes in global political climate and economic environment and possible future scenarios for a country as small, open and flexible as Estonia; e-democracy, e-governance and their role in modern societies; e-health, identity online and offline; development in the digital age to name but a few. Speakers at the symposium have included Professor Timothy Garton Ash (UK, Oxford University); Stanford University Professor James F. Fishkin and Hans Vestberg (CEO of Ericsson) as well as Andrew M. Thompson, Founder and Head of Proteus Digital Health.

Since 2013, one aspect of the gathering has been the opening seminar, organised by Enterprise Estonia and concerning interesting ideas,

products and businesses in Estonia. These events have comprised the following:

  • 2013 Estonia – Contributing for a Smarter World
  • 2014 Global Estonians
  • 2015 Estonia – Where Stuff Happens First
  • 2016 Estonia and the Future – You won’t Believe what Happens Next
The Estonia’s Friends International Meeting

The Estonia’s Friends International Meeting  © Marmo Luik

Besides discussions about Estonia’s development, innovation and investment opportunities, the guests of the meeting can look forward to a wonderful cultural program. It has become a tradition that on the first night for the hosting of a concert by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, led by renowned conductor Neeme Järvi. This concert has become a popular cultural event in its own right. The following evening there is due to be a traditional concert at the Oandu watermill in Lahemaa, surrounded by a beautiful Estonian natural setting. In some years the guests have been able to attend the famous Estonian Song and Dance Celebrations.

The Estonia’s Friends International Meeting

Rose Garden – The Estonia’s Friends International Meeting  © Raigo Pajula

Estonia’s Friends International Meeting is jointly organised by the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, Enterprise Estonia and entrepreneur Margus Reinsalu. Feedback from previous events has been very positive and surely this year’s event will be memorable for all those friends due to attend, and will no doubt lead to many new friendships forming and interesting discussions on the future of Estonia taking place.

Source: Life in Estonia

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