Toomas Hendrik Ilves was honoured with the tile of the “Knight of Freedom” – an annual prize for eminent individuals, who contributed to promotion of freedom, justice and democracy, awarded by the Casimir Pulaski Foundation.
During a Gala Diner, which was a part of the Warsaw Security Forum 2016, former Prime Minister of Sweden – and the 2015 laureate, together with Edward Lucas, the Economist journalist and expert on Middle and East Europe, gave the laudation to Ilves.
Presenting laureate’s profile, Edward Lucas highlighted his comprehensive knowledge and education. “Should Toomas Ilves be a sportsman, he would surely have won a gold medal at the Olympics” – he joked. In turn Carl Bildt noted, that no one has ever done as much for the recognition of Estonia around the world, as its President.
The award – general Pulaski sabre’s replica – was handed by the President of the Foundation, Zbigniew Pisarski.
Former President of Estonia emphasized in his speech the significance of the long way, that Estonia has come in the process of democratisation and the experience of the country in this manner. He underlined the important role of strong institutions and independent media in this regard.
Toomas Ilves was born in Sweden into a family of Estonian refugees. He completed courses in psychology at the University of Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania. In the 80’ he worked as a journalist at Radio Free Europe, and soon after the retrieval of independency by Estonia, he served as ambassador to the USA, Canada and Mexico. From 1996 to 1998 he served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the first time. In 1999 Ilves was elected to the Estonian Riigikogu and soon returned to the position as the Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which he led until 2002. In the first Estonian elections to the European Parliament of 2004, he received deputies’ mandate. On September 23rd 2006 he was elected the President of Estonia.
The “Knight of Freedom” is awarded annually to outstanding individuals, who contributed to the promotion of values, which inspired general Casimir Pulaski i.e. freedom, justice and democracy. To date, among laureates are: President Lech Wałęsa, President Aleksander Kawaśniewski, President Valdas Adamkus, Jaier Solana, Bernard Kouchner, Richard Lugar, President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Radosław Sikorski and Prime Minister Carl Bildt.