Weekend Briefs: Presidential News
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves issued a statement on Friday via his Facebook page on the topic of the fire that caused severe damage to the presidential castle in Riga last week.
"Last night, the Riga castle, which houses the Latvian History Museum and President's offices, was on fire. I have been there many times and I understand the magnitude of the disaster. I phoned my colleague and friend, Latvian President Andris Bērziņš to express my sorrow and shock. My dear Latvians, if you feel we can help you in some way, just say so."
The overnight fire on June 20-21 damaged the roof and upper floors of the castle. One firefighter was injured, treated for smoke inhalation.
President Ilves touched on familiar themes in his Victory Day speech in Haapsalu, saying that Estonia's independence had never been more secure. But in the speech, which he opened with a quotation from the memoirs of a then 18-year-old soldier in the War of Independence, he also called for vigilance, and even noted an incident from Good Friday this year in which Russian planes had simulated an attack on Stockholm and which he said had led to Sweden questioning its traditional neutrality.
Still, Ilves said, the greatest threat to independence was internal: "If we ask what poses the greatest threat to our continued independence today, one answer is our own indifference and passivity. Readiness to defend one's country also means we want to defend our country; that we feel that we have something worth defending and that we appreciate that fact."
Hungarian President János Áder closed out a two-day official viist to Estonia on June 21. The European Union and Eurozone, Eastern Partnership, support for Finno-Ugric peoples, particularly those living in Russia - featured among topics discussed with Estonian President Ilves. Ilves and Áder also discussed the Hungarian proposal, made days earlier at the Central European Summit of Heads of State in Bratislava, for the creation of a European disaster relief fund. Áder characterized the Estonian business environment with three words: simplicity, clarity and business-friendliness. Áder also met with Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and Speaker of Parliament Ene Ergma.