On April 22 -23, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will join her Estonian and other NATO colleagues for a meeting of Alliance Foreign Ministers in Tallinn. The location of this meeting is no doubt both a pleasure and a burden for our Estonian hosts. I particularly want to thank the people of Tallinn in advance for their patience with the inevitable disruption we will cause for a couple of days.
But Secretary Clinton is not only attending an important NATO event, she is coming back a third time to Estonia to visit with true friends. A lot has happened since her last visit in 2004. During that year, Estonia joined NATO and the EU. Estonia reassumed its rightful place in a free Europe it never left in its soul and became a fierce defender of freedom in the Transatlantic Alliance.
In 2007, Estonia not only overcame a cyberattack on its territory,but responded by establishing a NATO Cyberdefense Center. Estonian soldiers have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and kept the peace in the Balkans. During the past three years, Estonia weathered the most severe global economic crisis since the Great Depression and is emerging in such sound shape that you are on track to introduce the Euro as your currency in a little more than eight months from now.
Talk about success! In 2004, Senator Clinton visited a resolute and proud Estonia clearly on the move. Next week she will see the amazing results of Estonia’s journey to date. She will be immensely pleased, but somehow I suspect she will not be surprised. Estonians live up to their own high expectations of themselves. The rest of us know that you consistently punch above your weight.
Welcome back Madam Secretary!