Ilves goes to Croatia on final state visit as president (1)

President Ilves and his delegation on a recent state visit to Croatia, March 2016. (Raigo Pajula/Office of the President of the Republic)
By Neeme Raud
3/28/2016 10:33 AM
Category: News

Last week, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves traveled to the Republic of Croatia on the final state visit of his two-term presidency.

Last Monday morning, the delegation to Croatia, including a number of ministers, businessmen, and finally the President and First Lady themselves, gathered in the VIP area of Tallinn Airport before setting off for Zagreb. As Croatia does not have state visits, this trip was formally referred to as an official visit.

“As a rule, two to three state visits are arranged per year, and this also goes for incoming visits as well — in other words, foreign heads of state visit Estonia two to three times per year as well,” explained Piret Reintamm, head of the Protocol Department of the Office of the President of the Republic. “This is a large official delegation, including ministers and members of parliament. On this visit to Croatia, President Ilves’ final during his term of office, we have three ministers along — the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of the Interior, and the Minister of Entrepreneurship.”

One may wonder why such costly visits should even continue to be arranged at all in the Internet Age, if information can be exchanged between countries today by other, cheaper means.

“It is still important for us to continue to introduce ourselves, and to show others what we do, what our goals are, and how we achieve them,” explained Erki Holmberg, head of the Domestic Policy Department of the Office of the President of the Republic. “Of increasing importance, however, is the promotion of economic ties as well. A number of businessmen have apparently already developed good contacts and connections here in Croatia.”

Holmberg went on to explain that state visits were beneficial in a number of ways, including providing Estonia with the opportunity to introduce its culture to other countries through its music, art, and literature, all of which in turn helped increase the country’s recognition abroad.

“In certain countries, it is considered a good sign if there are entrepreneurs along as part of the business delegation,” noted the Estonian Chamber of Commerce’s International Relations Manager Liis Lehesalu. “It shows that they are trustworthy — that they are entrepreneurs with whom one can do business.”

President Ilves has always prioritized visiting a local institution of higher education while on state visits as well. While in Croatia, Ilves gave a lecture at the University of Rijeka.

“I have given a lecture somewhere on just about every state visit in order to introduce Estonia’s vision,” the president explained, “Because, let’s be honest, what we think or how Estonia sees things is not self-evident.”

President Ilves’ visit to Croatia was the final state visit of his two consecutive five-year terms of office. Future state visits will fall under the term of Estonia’s next elected head of state.

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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