Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland, has gone down in history as the man who led Iceland to become the first nation to recognize the independent Baltic states in 1991. Jón turned 85 this in February 2024, and his daughter took him to Estonia to celebrate his birthday with his old friend Aku Sorainen.

Jón granted Sorainen an interview where he spoke of the courage to stand up when everyone else is silent, the tendency to overestimate Russia’s power, and the urgency for Europe to do what it takes to defend its free nations. With the Trump presidency becoming increasingly likely, Europe needs to immediately build up its defence capabilities and give Ukraine the support it needs. “It is our Europe!,” Jón noted.

The foresight and courage of one person has so many times tilted the course of history. That’s what we can learn from Jón, and it’s certainly worth remembering now that the Baltic leaders can speak for themselves and their people.