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That dream of [Estonian] freedom endured through centuries of occupation and oppression. It blossomed into independence, only to have it stolen by foreign pacts and secret protocols. It survived the mass deportations that ripped parents from their children. It was defended by Forest Brothers in their resistance and sustained by poets and authors who kept alive your languages and cultures. And here in Estonia, it was a dream that found its most eloquent expression in your voices -- on a grassy field not far from here, when Estonians found the courage to stand up against an empire and sing “land of my fathers, land that I love.” And Heinz Valk, who is here today, spoke for the entire Singing Revolution when he said, “One day, no matter what, we will win!” (Applause.)
Now, let’s put to rest, once and for all, the distortions or outdated thinking that has caused this crisis [in Ukraine]. Our NATO Alliance is not aimed “against” any other nation; we’re an alliance of democracies dedicated to our own collective defense. Countries like Estonia and Latvia and Lithuania are not “post-Soviet territory.” You are sovereign and independent nations with the right to make your own decisions. No other nation gets to veto your security decisions.
The protests in Ukraine, on the Maidan, were not led by neo-Nazis or fascists. They were led by ordinary Ukrainians -- men and women, young and old -- who were fed up with a corrupt regime and who wanted to share in the progress and prosperity that they see in the rest of Europe. And they did not engage in an “armed seizure of power.” After an agreement was brokered for constitutional reform, the former president then abandoned his office, and parliament endorsed new elections so that today Ukrainians have a new democratically elected president. And I look forward to welcoming President Poroshenko to the Oval Office this month. He was chosen by the people of Ukraine.