President Speaks of National Self-Image in End-of-Year Interview (9)
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who turned 60 on Thursday, said in his end-of-year interview that a new tendency to criticize the nation is worrying, as Estonia is performing exceptionally well.
Answering a question on what has agitated him this year, Ilves said that the way people talk about Estonia is not constructive, as the tonality and attitude are negative.
“I understand if you say that the government is bad and stupid, or that Parliament is bad and stupid, then that we can debate. But the nation itself is exceptionally good,” Ilves said.
“If we look at the other states that have departed from communism, then I dare to say that only Poland has done as well. They are very unlike us, having come out of their economic low point thanks to their large internal market,” he said, adding that Estonia is near the top of most ranking lists, ahead of or second compared with all other states that became free in the 1980s and 1990s.
“We travel to Finland and find the people there more wealthy and many things more advanced, but if we take into account our starting point and the fact that we ourselves have to work for everything […] then I am sometimes surprised that people believe" that we have ourselves to blame for our troubled past and that everything must be belittled, he said.
Speaking about the future, Ilves said that he is moderately optimistic, adding that a gloomy outlook in people discourages innovation and moving forward.
“If I recall the pessimism that existed when Estonia was occupied, then I believe that any future hardships are conquerable,” Ilves said.