Dario Cavegn: Kaljurand, the reluctant candidate (6)

Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand. (Postimees/Scanpix)
9/1/2016 8:30 AM
Category: Opinion

Over the past months, there have been several occasions when the Estonian media assumed that Marina Kaljurand, much like everybody else in the country’s government and legislature, was working on some political scheme, aiming to move up in the long term. This is nonsense, writes Dario Cavegn.

Several papers have speculated that Kaljurand and the Reform Party were planning to use the foreign minister’s popularity to its advantage in the next election. This was in spite of the fact that Kaljurand repeatedly refused to clearly affiliate herself with any one political party, and that she was extremely reluctant to go along with initial calls to make her a presidential candidate.

Marina Kaljurand is a full-blooded diplomat. In a time where everybody is “passionate” about something, and in a country where political life at least to outsiders seems to be dominated by perpetually scheming upstarts, it is apparently hard to believe for many that there is something like genuine effort and honest commitment left in the local elite.

It would seem strange that a career diplomat, appointed minister as an expert member of the government, should suddenly, after two decades of life and work in Estonia’s foreign service, switch her interests to day to day politics, nose counts, and election campaigns.

Kaljurand’s reluctance whenever faced with the opportunity to go beyond the diplomatic sphere has been consistent. She hasn’t joined the party whose chairman appointed her Minister of Foreign Affairs. And she took her time to agree to being made a presidential candidate.

“Being made a candidate” is the right expression to use here, because she is doing it again: Just this morning, on ETV’s “Terevisioon,” Kaljurand said she wouldn’t make any personal efforts to collect the signatures needed to nominate her for the electoral college. In other words, she once again shows that she is ready to run for president, but only if a sufficient number of others are ready to carry her.

Kaljurand’s continuing reluctance hints at two things — that she enjoys her current job and her work in the diplomatic sphere enormously, and that it is a sense of duty that keeps her moving towards the presidency. She will be president if made president, she will take on the job if the country expects her to. And if it shouldn’t happen, she will continue to serve it as a minister, or as a diplomat.

While to Siim Kallas, a presidency and leadership position of whatever kind seems the next logical step — let’s not forget, within a comparably short time, Kallas has tried to become prime minister of Estonia for a second time, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, and president of the Republic of Estonia. In all three cases, he hasn’t exactly been modest about his qualifications, and the fact that he is convinced that he is the best candidate available.

While Kallas makes the impression that besides an active top position very little would leave him satisfied, Kaljurand seems to have no issues with the prospect of continuing either as minister of foreign affairs, or as a diplomat.

Of course it came as a disappointment to be dropped by the party that had given her every reason to believe it would support her. But on the other hand, not getting elected president can hardly be seen as a personal disaster, and Kaljurand’s reaction, at least to this observer, seems to give away that she would be perfectly happy continuing her career the way it is going at present, with all the options she still has.

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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