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Estonia’s unity and freedom sound to the heaven

Last week, Estonia celebrated its freedom, friendship, and overwhelming unity with the song and dance festival tradition, merging 9% of the country’s population to sing and dance together despite pouring rain. At the same time, the 11th Estonia’s Friends Meeting brought together the business, political and cultural figures worldwide that have helped Estonia become a thriving European country.

Once every five years, tens of thousands of Estonians come together to sing and dance together. It’s a tradition that dates back to 1869, creating unforgettable memories of the power of collaboration – from generation to generation. The Estonian Youth Song and Dance Festival showcases the talent and unity of Estonia’s youth, symbolising the country’s strong cultural heritage. This time, it was rainy, but no one let it bother them. Amidst discomfort, joy and greatness remained undisturbed. The XIII Youth Song and Dance Festival gathered close to 90,000 spectators who watched performances by 31,415 singers, reports ERR.

A young singer expressed to Invest Estonia that she restrained her tears while singing, as the experience was both exquisitely beautiful and deeply sorrowful.  “It was so beautiful and sad to sing and feel freedom at a time when there is an unjust war going on in Ukraine, where it is impossible to feel and act the same way.”

Estonia has strong friends

Estonia has many friends and allies, as the country’s commitment to democracy, human rights, and innovation has garnered support from around the world. “You cannot be bullied if you have strong friends,” said Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas in a recent interview.

To foster those ties, a very special meeting occurs each year, named Estonia’s Friends International Meeting (EFIM). The inaugural Estonia’s Friends International Meeting took place in 2010, and it has since become a cherished tradition, now supported by Invest Estonia, the Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications (ITL), Bolt, NordicNinjia, Levira, among others.

The 11th Estonia’s Friends International Meeting (EFIM) took place in Tallinn from June 29 to July 2, leaving a lasting impression on attendees. The event, patronised by President (2006-2016) Toomas Hendrik Ilves and tech entrepreneur Sten Tamkivi, brought together individuals from the realms of business, politics, and culture to express gratitude for their invaluable contributions to Estonia’s development. This year’s gathering focused on the intersection of energy and innovation, culminating in a visit to the renowned Youth Song and Dance Festival.

EFIM patron Sten Tamkivi emphasised the significance of engaging people from around the world in Estonia’s development, ensuring its longevity and prosperity. He remarked, “To make sure Estonia still exists and thrives a hundred years from now, it is necessary to have as many people as possible all over the world sincerely involved in our development.”

 Sten Tamkivi

Pure energy flow

The opening of EFIM 2023 commenced with a business seminar titled “Positively Energising Innovation”, which showcased success stories from esteemed Estonian companies and startups, including Fusebox, R8tech, Fermi Energia, Sunly, and Neo Performance Materials.

Tiit Riisalo, Minister of Economic Affairs and Information Technology, welcomed Estonia’s long-standing friends with a clear message from the new government: “We are fast, secure and digital. And we are committed to lay ground for the new cycle of Estonian economic wonder.”

Tiit Riisalo, Minister of Economic Affairs and Information Technology

To make this happen, Estonia is ushering in a new era of energy policies and innovations. Companies like Fusebox build comprehensive platforms to balance the green generation of electricity with consumption. R8tech, on the other hand, focuses on building an AI system that will be capable of reducing the energy footprint of commercial property. The company is already managing millions of square meters across 15 countries, including buildings in Estonia’s biggest business campus, Ülemiste City. Fermi is planning to add nuclear to the Estonian future green energy mix, opening its first modular reactor in 2031, while Sunly is already orchestrating the popularisation of solar generation, which jumped 60% in Estonia over the last years. The discussion, full of deep insights, was moderated by Thor-Sten Vertmann, who is in charge of Electricity Market Design, energy efficiency, nuclear energy, and Baltic Synchronisation policies in the Cabinet of EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.


Neo Performance Material executive, Vasileios Tsianos, had delivered a powerful and compelling message about building a new magnet factory in Narva, just the day after the construction started. The project is expected to bolster European independence in many critical areas and put Estonia in the spotlight. “Estonia is one of the most strategic jurisdictions for producing rare earth magnets in the Western World. The Critical Raw Materials Act, adopted by the EU, will truly become an Estonian success story,” he proclaimed.

On the second day, the Digital Society Symposium commenced with a burst of energy. Margus Tsahkna, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, delivered welcoming words to the attendees, and the session was then opened by Toomas Hendrik Ilves. The event continued with a thought-provoking presentation by Lisett Luik, Co-Founder of Arbonics, who discussed how nature would drive value for Estonia in the next decade, shifting from digital gold to green gold.

Toomas Hendrik Ilves

The following program encompassed various engaging activities: a tour of the Riigikogu (the Estonian Parliament), a visit to the renowned Arvo Pärt Center, and a reception hosted by President Alar Karis. These events provided guests with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in Estonia’s rich culture, gain insights into its society, and familiarise themselves with its political and business landscape.

Wish to compare Estonia’s business environment to that of other EU countries? Try out our comparison tool.

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