Toomas Sildam: We do not want political courts and judges ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Toomas Sildam.
Toomas Sildam. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

A country that's comprehensible and sympathetic leaves administration of justice up to courts and not politics and is one where an ambassador can honestly tell MPs how the country's policy looks from afar, without having to fear removal, journalist Toomas Sildam writes.

The president found the mandatory funded pension reform unconstitutional and bounced it back to the Riigikogu. She pointed to both legal and ideological arguments, while the latter allowed her opponents to claim the president used a political veto.

The president could stick to dry and emotionless legal reasoning. However, one of the authors of the 1992 Constitution Liia Hänni takes a broader view, saying that new legislation must honor both the provision and spirit of the Constitution.

Hänni believes the matter will culminate in a fundamental debate in the Supreme Court, with the current political will of the ruling coalition on the one hand and the idea of the Estonian state on the other. Hänni phrases her idea through the preamble of the Constitution that obligates rulers to reinforce and develop a state that would serve as a "guarantee for current and future generations in their social life and universal benefit."

That has been the goal of the second pillar of pension – to collect assets for future pensioners," Hänni explains.

What will happen in the Supreme Court? Isamaa will not amend their principal election promise to the extent sought by the president. The Conservative People's Party (EKRE) that hopes to find new voters among people who are promised they can withdraw their pension savings early will also not be changing sides either. And because the Center Party needs to maintain the coalition's unity, the controversial reform will likely reach the Supreme Court after the president vetoes it for the second time.

There are those who say that because the president's veto is political, it will create a situation where the Supreme Court will be engaging in politics too. EKRE deputy chairman, Minister of Finance Martin Helme: If politics moves to the courts, the question of a judicial reform is created.

Supreme Court justices are appointed for life by the Riigikogu, with corresponding proposals made by the Supreme Court's chief justice. So far, these have not been political choices and candidates have been measured based on their professional character.

How is the worldview of judges gauged, Martin Helme now asked, believing that the voter needs to be able to remove judges – probably through the Riigikogu. This would effectively mean bringing judges into the fold of party politics.

However, we do not want political courts and judges because today's rulers could find themselves in the opposition tomorrow and vice versa. It must not affect administration of justice. And it likely won't as it is difficult to imagine EKRE's coalition partners Isamaa and Center agreeing to the reform, not to mention the opposition Reform Party and Social Democratic Party.

We should also put an end to talk and ideas of politicizing Estonia's currently apolitical foreign service. Even if diplomats sometimes ask politicians difficult questions or express candid opinions.

At times, diplomats might have a hard time understanding where Estonia's foreign policy stands and who is in charge of phrasing it.

For example, as concerns the Estonia-Russia border agreement and possible territorial claims where EKRE wants Petserimaa back from Russia and suggests the agreement would render the Tartu Peace Treaty null and void, the president urges against redrawing Europe's postwar borders, Isamaa is talking about seeking occupation damages from Russia and the Center Party has a cooperation protocol with United Russia and wants to move forward with the border agreement ratification process.

But as Prime Minister Jüri Ratas once said (when defending one of Estonia's brightest foreign policy players Matti Maasikas), officials must be able to discuss potential political problems in a courteous, independent and reasoned fashion. In public if necessary. With politicians if necessary.

A country that's comprehensible and sympathetic is generally one where justice is administered by the courts, not politics, and where an ambassador can tell visiting MPs frankly how the homeland's policy is looking from afar, without having to fear reprisal.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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