Mr. Speaker, on February 24 Estonians mark the 83rd anniversary of the declaration of Estonian independence.
This is not only a day of celebration for Canadians of Estonian heritage, but also an opportunity to thank Canada and Canadians for offering Estonians refuge in a new homeland in the aftermath of World War II.
It is an opportunity to thank Canada for its steadfast support of Estonian independence through the dark days of the Soviet occupation of Estonia. It is an opportunity to thank Canada for its support in rebuilding Estonia after the re-establishment of Estonian independence in 1991. Finally, it is an opportunity to thank Canada for its support of Estonia's aspirations to join NATO in the very near future in order to secure a lasting peace and stability in Europe.
On this special day, Canadians of Estonian heritage look forward to the future with hope and optimism for both Canada and Estonia, and for even closer economic, political and diplomatic ties between these two countries.
To this end, I am pleased to announce that on February 22 Estonia officially opened its embassy in Ottawa.