Interview by the President of the Republic to Maaleht on September 20, 2001

How do the events in the United States affect the presidential elections in Estonia?

After the attack against the USA, Estonia's position in the world is different from what it was before. Estonia does not lead a safe life in the world that is developing into a dangerous one. This knowledge determines clear duties of each President. It is the primary task of the President of the Republic to guarantee Estonia's security. Estonia is and will remain in the sphere of mutual impact and interests of East and West. Estonia's next President must, on the one hand, know a lot about Russia, the soul of Russian culture, and the Russian behaviour. On the other hand, he must recognisably be a representative of the Western cultural space.

What, in your opinion, is the guarantee of the next President's success? What would help him to be up to his duties?

It is the support of all Estonia's brightest minds. The President will be successful when supported by the Estonian cultural elite, Estonian intellectuals, Estonian economic leaders and the people of Estonia, who have cherished education and intellectuals throughout centuries. I hope that the President will be a result of a reasonable political agreement. To act, the President will need support from all areas of life in Estonia.

How would you comment the declaration of the young politicians from the Pro Patria Union and the Moderates that the next President should be someone who has not a member of the Communist Party?

At the end of the Eighties, there were a little more than 100,000 Communist Party members in Estonia. This is the past that we have to live with. A Communist Party member is not a criminal. This should be clear to everyone. This is the difference between us and the communists. But we should also be aware that the Communist Party as a whole, as a system, as a tool of power, served as a pillar of support to evil. The party served the totalitarian power and the occupation in Estonia. It is our duty to admit our past. Therefore, I fully support the declaration of the young politicians.

With the presidential elections, Estonia is giving a clear signal to the world. Looking at the results of the presidential elections, the international public will decide whether Estonia is continuing on the democratic path of a small European country, or making a stupid communist turn back. This would once again, and much more acutely, raise the problem of Estonia's security.

Interview by Erika Klaats