Estonian President Hesitant About EU Membership

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves was interviewed by Postimees earlier this week. And the interview uncovered some unexpected surprises.

When asked about Estonia and the European Union he said ““Estonia has no alternative to the European Union membership. Europe is losing its importance, but mainly because others – China, Brazil, etc. – are increasing theirs. I am worried because Europe is unable to do things that it should do.

And I am especially worried because if its blamed on us, on the enlargement of EU to Eastern Europe… The old Europe that for 50 years has been enjoying the US economic support that every year invested 2-3 percent of its GDP in Europe got complacent.”

On the subject of Estonia’s individual State and its efficiency, “For me the question is about finding the right balance. A wider question is whether the Estonian state is managed efficiently or whether we should take a cold accountant’s look at it. Having one’s own state is expensive. If we want to maintain and preserve it, there are costs that we need to bear.”

Regarding comments that Edgar Savisaar made, suggesting Ives may have given orders to raid the Centre Party’s offices, “(The) Estonian President can give orders only to its own staff. This is absurd. I have heard another version that a UFO landed on the roof of the KAPO building and gave the order.

I know a little more about it than I can publicly say. If you remember, I was somewhat angry during these events. If you search a party office, then the prosecutors have to explain it to the public in somewhat more detail which is what they did not do at the beginning. Whatever I think of one or another party in Estonia, we have the rule of law and we have democracy.”

He also spoke about plans to separate some of KAPO’s functions to another institution saying, “Illegal financing of political parties is still illegal, but no longer criminally punishable in Estonia. When all Estonian parties pushed it through the parliament in major agreement, it was a blow to the Estonian justice system. If you send a signal that it is no longer criminal, then why you wonder that people are doing it.”

President Ilves was also asked pointedly why so many scandals come out of the Centre Party, “There are people whose views or upbringing is quite different than mine, but there you have it,” was his response.

Ilves talked about how Russia was no longer being taken seriously as a world super power.

“It’s hard to be a shrinking major country that is no longer a superpower and this is when you start defining yourself through opposing to another country. I would say that the attitude of Europe and US towards Russia should be that of well-wishing and caring lack of interest. Unlike some other country we don’t arrange rhetoric coming from Russia. I will never win in a war of words that is smearing also us.”

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