This year the European of the Year title was awarded to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. The title was handed over by President Alar Karis at the Europe Day seminar in Vabamu.
With the European of the Year Award, the European Commission Representation in Estonia and the European Movement recognize a person or organization that has helped to stand up for European values, increase people’s awareness of the European Union and made Estonia more visible in Europe.
The European of the Year was selected by a jury consisting of Indrek Kannik, Director of the International Centre for Defence and Security, Kai Realo, CEO Ragn-Sells Estonia, Mall Hellam, European of the Year 2010 and Director of the Open Estonia Foundation, Urmo Soonvald, editor-in-chief of Delfi and Eesti Päevaleht, and Vivian Loonela, Head of the European Commission Representation in Estonia.
Kaja Kallas said: “I remember when Estonia wanted to join the European Union 25 years ago – we held negotiations, worked to fulfill the conditions and tried to convince everyone that Estonia belongs to Europe. Now we are the Europe where Ukraine wants to belong to, and other countries are also striving for. This change has happened almost unnoticed and we don’t think about it everyday, but much of Estonia’s success and prosperity is thanks to the European Union.”
Vivian Loonela, Head of the European Commission Representation in Tallinn said while congratulating the European of the Year: “During the last year, Kaja Kallas has made Estonia more influential in the European Union than ever before. Her activity has mainly been aimed at helping Ukraine, but has also significantly strengthened the European Union.”
Petros Fassoulas, Secretary General of the European Movement International, said: “Now more than ever, the defence of democracy, freedom and peace in Europe are in need of leadership. Kaja Kallas has provided that leadership and has stood, with commitment and determination, by the side of all those across Europe, not least in Ukraine, who fight for the preservation of the values that underpin the European ideal.”
The European of the Year title has been awarded since 2005.