Estonia not to be represented at Holocaust remembrance event in Israel

Then-prime minister Andrus Ansip laying a wreath at the Hall of Remembrance during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem. December 2012.
Then-prime minister Andrus Ansip laying a wreath at the Hall of Remembrance during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem. December 2012. Source: Gali Tibbon/AFP Photo/Scanpix

Estonia will not be represented at a high-level Holocaust remembrance event to take place in Jerusalem on Thursday, where leaders from at least 46 countries, including the U.S. and practically all EU member states, will present. President Kersti Kaljulaid and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) will be on foreign visits on Thursday, but President of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas (EKRE) said that he did not receive an invitation to the event.

"As organizers of the event are expecting only very high-level representation, but our president, prime minister and president of the Riigikogu have prior engagements, Estonia will not be represented at the event in Jerusalem," a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told ERR on Tuesday.

Kaljulaid is currently in Antarctica together with an expedition celebrating the bicentennial of the discovery of the continent, and Ratas is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos. Põlluaas told ERR, however, that he has other obligations at the time, and has not received an invitation to the event besides.

"Unfortunately it isn't possible for me to go; I'll be busy at the time," Põlluaas told ERR. He remained vague about what obligations he has on Thursday, but said that when the topic came up, he checked his calendar and saw that he already had a prior engagement at the time.

"I also personally have not received an invitation to go there," he continued. "But in any case, of course such a thing should be commemorated, that is very much clear. They were tragic events after all."

In addition to a plenary of the Riigikogu, the only other engagement listed on the president of the Riigikogu's official agenda around that time is the opening of Ludmilla Siim's personal exhibition in the gallery of Toompea Castle on Wednesday morning.

Ratas, meanwhile, is in Davos from Tuesday through Thursday, where is attending the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, a spokesperson for the prime minister told ERR. He is scheduled to return to Estonia late Thursday night.

Kaljulaid has been away from Estonia since January 16 and will be gone through January 31; prior to traveling to Antarctica, she also visited Chile.

President's message included

The foreign ministry spokesperson noted, however, that as representatives of Israel had asked each invited head of state for a personal message to be included in a book to be published for the occasion, Kaljulaid sent her message as well, meaning that Estonia will nonetheless be represented to some extent.

Israel has invited only heads of state or heads of parliament and, if necessary, prime ministers to attend a forum at Yad Vashem on Thursday. Among those to have confirmed their attendance as of last week are the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, Russian President Vladimir Putin, royalty from several countries, and the presidents of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council.

As of January 15, in addition to Estonia, Ireland, Malta and Poland had not confirmed their attendance either.

The memorial event will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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