20th of June 2019 marked a significant milestone in the history of the Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL). On this day, we celebrated the new BALTDEFCOL Flag Inauguration and Joint Graduation of three courses. The flag was donated to the College by the City of Tartu. The day served as a culmination point of the 20th Anniversary programme.
President of Estonia H.E. Mrs Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Latvia H.E. Mr Raimonds Vejonis, Speaker of the Seimas of Lithuania H.E. Prof Viktoras Pranckietis, Mayor of the City of Tartu Mr Urmas Klaas, Ministers of (National) Defence, Chief of Defence of Estonia, ambassadors, defence attachés, distinguished guests and members of BALTDEFCOL first staff joined current staff and students and their family members to underline the importance of this symbolic moment for the college and for the defence of our nations and allies.
The programme at the Vanemuine Theatre started with the blessing of the flag by the Bishop of the Southern Region of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Mr Joel Luhamets, the Representative of Chief Chaplain of the Estonian Defence Forces, CPT (ret) Ago Lilleorg, Chief Chaplain of Latvian National Armed Forces Mr Elmārs Pļaviņš and the Representative of Chief Chaplain of Lithuanian National Defence Forces LTC Remigijus Butkevičius. The Heads of State, Speaker of Seimas and Mayor of Tartu then did the honour of nailing the flag with an axe given to the College as a present from the Joint Command and General Staff Course 2018-2019.
„We, the militaries, pay a huge and very careful attention to our traditions. The flag is the most significant part of them. The flag is the sign of recognition and foundation of the identity of the institution or military unit. It symbolises the integrity, honours and values of the organisation uniting men and women who serve there and sacrifice their lives, if necessary, under this flag“ said the Commandant of BALTDEFCOL Major General Andis Dilāns. We are extremely grateful to the City of Tartu for this magnificent and meaningful Anniversary giftt.
As a token of appreciation, MG Dilāns awarded the Baltic Defence College Medal of Merit Gold to Mr Urmas Klaas for promoting cooperation between the City of Tartu and the Baltic Defence College and long-term support to the College events.
The Commandant and State Presidents thanked BG Clemmesen and first staff members in their speeches for setting a solid foundation for general staff officers and professional military education system in the Baltics.
The day continued with the Joint Graduation of Higher Command Studies Course (HCSC) 2019, Joint Command and General Staff Course (JCGSC) 2018-2019 and Civil Servants’ Course (CSC) 2019. This was the first time in the history of the College when the three courses graduated together. This year, altogether 92 students representing 17 nations received their diplomas. This is the result of their hard work during very demanding and intensive educational programmes. The graduation speech on behalf of the graduating class of 2019 was delivered by Course Leader of JCGSC Major Bjarne Barslund.
As a tradition, the best students of BALTDEFCOL courses were recognised for their outstanding performance during the graduation ceremony.
Best Student Award - RDMR Alberto Sodomaco
Academic Writing Award - LTC Vytautas Sriubas
Commandant’s Award - Commander Junior Grade Kjersti Kalstad Brenden
Joint Operations Award - Major Darius Milašius
Academic Writing Award - Commander Junior Grade Kjersti Kalstad Brenden
Class Leader Recognition - Major Bjarne Barslund
Best Student Award - Karola Mänd
Class Leader Recognition - Kert Karelson
The programme was concluded with the official raising of the new flag at BALTDEFCOL esplanade.
We send our warmest congratulations to all the graduates of BALTDEFCOL Anniversary class of 2019! We hope you will continue the road of self-development and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours!
Photos of Flag Inauguration and Joint Graduation are available on BALTDEFCOL’s website.