Tunne Kelam was a guest speaker at the EPB in 2017
Tunne Kelam is an Estonian politician and a Member of the European Parliament from Estonia since 2004. He was an activist against the communist regime and in 1972 he prepared a memorandum to the UN on behalf of two underground citizens’ groups, which asked for the UN assistance to evacuate the Soviet occupation forces and organize free elections. Smuggled out of the country, the memorandum caused lively interest in the West but resulted also in the wave of KGB repressions at home. Kelam narrowly escaped arrest but lost his job in the Encyclopaedia and all his public activities were suppressed. He stayed for the next dozen years under strict KGB surveillance but continued to operate half-underground, organizing unofficial opposition groups and passing to the West information about human rights violations in the Soviet occupied Estonia. From 1979 till 1987 Kelam was employed as a night-shift worker on a state poultry farm.
By the end of the 1980s he had become one of the leading advocates for restoration of independence in Estonian society. In August 1988 Kelam became a founding member of the Estonian National Independence Party (ERSP, Eesti Rahvusliku Sõltumatuse Partei), the first non-Communist political party on the territory of the Soviet Union. In February 1990 Kelam was elected to the Congress of Estonia – a transition time representative body of Estonian citizens, which aspired for full-fledged independent statehood on the basis of the legal continuity of the Republic of Estonia. From 1990 to 1992 Kelam served as chairman of the Estonian Committee, an executive body of the Congress of Estonia. Kelam was member of the Constitutional Assembly (1991–1992) and was elected to the first constitutional parliament, the Riigikogu, in 1992, where he served until 2004.
Tunne Kelam has been spiritually close to the ideas of united Europe for many years. One of the sources of his inspiration was the Estonian translation of Coudenhove-Kalergi´s book “Total state – total man” which was published a few months before the Soviet take over of Estonia in 1940. He is an advocate of the practical importance of the common European cultural heritage and has been personally inspired by the Christian and ethical dimension of the European integration. Tunne Kelam has been associated with the Pan-European movement and has contributed to the several conferences organized under the auspices of Otto von Habsburg. Two years ago, he participated in publishing a selection of writings by Robert Schuman and wrote an introduction for the Estonian reader. One of his favourite quotations is Robert Schuman’s definition: “democracy is either Christian or it is non-existent. Because a non-Christian democracy leads only to anarchy or tyranny.”