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Statement by the President of the Republic

By now, I have met the candidates for President Peeter Kreitzberg, Matti Päts, Aarand Roos, Arnold Rüütel, Jevgeni Tomberg, Toomas Savi, Andres Tarand and Peeter Tulviste; and a moment ago, I made the proposal to the Chairman of the Riigikogu to convene the Riigikogu for the elections of the President. On the twenty-seventh of August, the Riigikogu will begin the elections of the successor to my office. His term in office will last until the year 2006, and even until the year 2011, if he will be elected for a second term. This is the temporal parameter wherein the President has to set his goals.

According to the Estonian Constitution, the President is the supreme commander of national defence. This means that the President is responsible for the most important – the security of the Republic of Estonia. The defence of Estonia has been my daily work and it must continue be the daily work of the next President.

In my opinion, one of the most important tasks of the next President is to help the Riigikogu so that its members would experience a feeling of unity, and understand that a parliament is not opposition and coalition, but that as a legislative body, it is the representative of the supreme power. The next President must find a way to restore the dignity and the integrity of the Riigikogu.

Dear fellow countrymen, it is important for each one of us to reach a firm conviction about which of the candidates is the best for Estonia. I ask all of you, and above all the Riigikogu and the members of the electoral body to keep in mind that they ought to sum up Estonia's historical experience, and try to see each candidate in the light of that experience. When evaluating what has been done, we can make conclusions about the future. Presidency is not a nice abode for spending one's retirement, or the top of one's career, as some tend to philosophise. The President is Estonia’s voice, and Estonia's deeds. The President's job is a long marathon, it must be both started and finished in good shape.

To all the candidates, I have expressed my recognition and gratitude that the election campaign has proceeded in a dignified manner. I ask all the candidates to keep in mind that they ought to continue the campaign in the same spirit.

I wish all the electors, both members of the Riigikogu and representatives of the local governments, to have statesman's wisdom and efficiency for making their decision. Be strong!

Lennart Meri

Kadriorg, August 1, 2001


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