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Karin Shuey giving keynote address at Connecticut Estonian Society's Independence Day celebration. Photo by Ron Ingraham

 

EANC was represented over the weekend of February 22nd at three events celebrating the 101st anniversary of Estonia’s independence. Washington, DC Director Karin Shuey attended the Estonian embassy’s commemoration on Friday, held at the Embassy of Finland in Washington.

 

She was the keynote speaker on Saturday at the Connecticut Estonian Society’s celebration. She also spoke at the Lakewood Estonian House at their event on Sunday. 

 

The embassy event was attended by over 200 Estonians, Estonian Americans and friends of Estonia from throughout Washington’s diplomatic circles. Finnish Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi and her staff were gracious hosts in their beautiful building on Massachusetts Avenue. She and Estonian Ambassador 

Jonatan Vseviov gave remarks emphasizing the close relationship between their nations and also stressed the importance of their partnerships with the U.S. (Ambassador Vseviov’s speech is available on p.3.) 

 

The program also featured musical performances by Endrik Üksvärav and Peep Lassmann and was emceed by Estonian Deputy Chief of Mission Marko Koplimaa. 

 

The Connecticut Estonian Society held an evening event that included singing and dancing by the community’s younger generation and byname honoring of their military veterans. Karin gave an overview of EANC’s mission and support for Estonian American language and cultural preservation, then focused on its advocacy work in Washington. She provided information on the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus and the House Baltic Caucus, along with the membership status of Connecticut’s lawmakers, and encouraged the audience to contact their offices regarding the caucuses and legislation relevant to the region.

 

The New Jersey event featured international IT security specialist Merike Käo and Estonian Consul General in New York Kairi Künka. In her greetings Kairi introduced the Estonian Integration Foundation’s new Estonian language house in Tallinn, where people of different backgrounds and native languages can learn and practice Estonian, and receive practical information on living, studying and working in Estonia. She quoted Minister of Culture Indrek Saar, who at the house’s opening ceremony said, “Every person who speaks Estonian is important and valuable as someone to pass on our culture. The community of people speaking Estonian does not necessarily have to be restricted to the ones living in Estonia.” She emphasized the contribution of Estonian Americans in preserving 

Estonian language and culture. She also recognized the importance of events like ESTO and global participation in Estonia’s song festivals, which play a vital role in keeping Estonia’s nationality and community alive.

 

Merike gave a presentation on how Estonia became a world leader in internet security and online government. Starting with the cyber-attacks against Estonia in 2007, the government took immediate action to analyze what happened and how to prevent and counter such events in the future. She noted that “now Estonia is the poster child” for what governments and law enforcement should do to combat cyber crime. She also explained that the news media often mischaracterizes Estonia’s expertise. She pointed to the Riigi Infosüsteemi Amet (www.ria.ee) as the ultimate authority on Estonia’s cyber capabilities and that often their work is mistranslated or the information printed in English and other languages is not as thorough as the original Estonian. The press recently mishandled information about a vulnerability in Estonia’s ID cards as a shortfall in the Estonian design of the card when it was actually a problem in a vendor-supplied security key that affected other security keys and tokens worldwide. She ended with advice on how to protect our own online presence, including using strong passwords and never trusting links in e-mails even if the source looks legitimate.

 

Karin provided a brief overview of New Jersey’s political landscape, the relevant legislative issues working through Congress now, and the Independence Day celebrations earlier in the weekend. Her next presentation is on the KLENK-IEP cruise March 2-10.

 

Karin Shuey

Washington, DC

Director Estonian American National Council

www.estosite.org

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