Tallinn in the News Summer 2019

Tallinn celebrates its two birthdays

Tallinn is having birthday celebrations. Tallinn was first mentioned in historical records 800 years ago in the Livonian chronicles on 15 June 1219.  The headline event is the visit of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

The Danish connection is based on a myth that the Danish flag was created when it fell from the sky prior to a victory King Valdemar II won in the battle of Lindanise.

The name Tallinn comes from Taani-Linn meaning Danish town.
Tallinn actually has two birthdays.

15 May was Tallinn Day when the city – in 1248 and then known as  Reval- came under Lübeck laws. The laws formed the basis of the Hanseatic League a sort of quasi-European Union of self-governing cities that expanded from  Germany around the Baltic City.

On 15 May, Tallinn mayor Mihhail Kõlvart met and shook hands with Prime Minister Jüri Ratas at the traditional ceremony opening of the city gates symbolising the conflict between the city administration and the national government which has so often plagued modern politics in Estonia is at an end.

Historian,  Toomas Abiline of Tallinn City Museum, pointed out the eerie parallels between what was happening back in the Middle Ages now.

“Historical Reval was two towns, Toompea and the lower city Reval was a totally different city, under different laws, there were land laws in Toompea and Lubeck’s rights in the rest of the city.

“The city gates were closed at 10 in the evening and opened again in the morning. The iron gate was so strong between the walls which shows that there was not always the best relationship.

“This tradition is very fine, which symbolises that the state power and the city power can welcome each other, get along well and co-operate,” Abiline said.
Prime Minister Juri Ratas took the opportunity to promote Tallinn’s cultural life.
“This relationship is a symbol that we can help each other and naturally develop the city’s theatres,” the Prime Minister said.
Historian, scholar and city councillor Jaak Jukse stressed that the people of Tallinn are working together.

“We have a worthy city. We have a city with two time-honoured names.  In the Old Town, which I move around and work in every day there are still new and interesting discoveries. I am always saying to people, if you have a chance, go and see the back courtyards behind the old building because you can always see something new and interesting,”  Jukse said.

Meanwhile, Tallinn’s Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart handed out awards to the citizens of the town for public service.

“Tallinn’s future depends on its people,” Kõlvart said.
“We have a chance to honour those who have taken a little more, that we can say that these are the people who are involved in developing the city,”  the Mayor added.

Old Town Days which takes place at the end of every May was headlined by a local international famous band Ewert and Two Dragons.

Along with the visit of the Queen of Denmark, there will be a full programme of celebrations and events taking place in the centre of the city.

The city showcases e-governance 

Tallinn showcased to the world how a city can be governed with modern technology. The e-Governance conference took place between 21-22 May.

This year’s  e-governance conference theme was “Same Goal different Road Map”  with the stated goal of helping “governments learn from different models of digital transformation to develop their use of e-services in a meaningful and future-oriented way.”

The conference attracted speakers and experts from Germany, USA, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Canada, Iraq, Finland, Brunei, Ukraine, The Faroe Islands and many other countries.

The Keynote speaker was Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid.

Toomas Sepp, Head of Tallinn City Office, explained how Tallinn city had taken the lead in e-governance and told an international audience that concepts first developed in the city, then rolled out to the entire nation could now be spread to the rest of the world.

The city provides access 24/7 to over a 1000 organisation which use it daily. There are over 500 million transactions in a year and there is co-operation between the national databases held in Estonia and those held in Finland known as the X-road which was established in 2018.

The key to the system is the databases. The city even has a database for pets and cemeteries which has spread to all Estonian municipalities.

“The biggest challenge is in people mind. In the technology and solution we are good enough,” Sepp said.
“If you like to change something. The culture of your organisation. You have to work with people.”

Toomas Sepp explained that Tallinn started with business and population registers in the early 2000s for sheer reasons of pragmatism.

“We did it because we needed it. Later the state took it over,” Sepp said.

Meanwhile, the city is working to create synergy with the administrative systems through the Tallinn Infosystem of Legislative Act or “TEELE”.

Sepp pointed out the challenge was not providing secure and workable systems, the challenge was changing the hearts and minds of administrators.

“The biggest problem is not how to do it, but how to sell this idea to the staff members and also to the politicians who have to work on it.”

Sepp expressed confidence that all of Estonia’s municipalities could work together.
“Estonia has 79 municipalities. Tallinn is the biggest why not order these things together?” Sepp said.

Get ready for Song and Dance Celebration 2019 

One of the biggest international cultural events in Europe is happening in Tallinn this summer.

Every four years Estonia has a song celebration. This year is the 150th Anniversary of the first festival which took place in 1869.

The celebration is a central part of Estonian national identity, born in the national awakening of the 19th Century.
The festival is also inextricably linked with the independence movement of the late 80s and early 90s. Indeed the independence movement was known as the singing revolution.

The song and dance celebrations are among the biggest and oldest folk festivals in the World and are listed as a UNESCO national treasure.

The celebration will take place on 4-7 July. The theme of the 27 Song Celebration and the 20 Dance Celebration is “My Fatherland is My Love.”

In a small nation of 1,2 million people, there will be tens of thousands of performers who will have come from all over Estonia. Effectively everybody in Estonia will have friends and family performing in the celebrations.

The main venues for the celebrations will be the Song Festival Ground which can hold 100,000 people and the Dance festival in Kalev Stadium. Both venues have been recently overhauled and renovated by Tallinn City’s government.

Maritime Days are back

Summer also brings Maritime day. This year’s maritime days take place on the 13–15 of July in four harbours: the Old City Harbour, the Seaplane Harbour, the Noblessner Harbour and Haven Kakumäe harbour.
Tallinn is also a major port and has been fought over for many centuries because it offers a warm water port in the region.

Maritime days is set to celebrate this nautical heritage which everything from yacht sailing to paddleboarding.
The Estonian Sailing Championships will take place in the Seaplane Harbour.  There will be music and concerts and activities for the children. Maritime days is sponsored by the city of Tallinn.