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Ex-President Rüütel: Estonia Is a Dream Yet to Be Fulfilled

Former president Arnold Rüütel
Former president Arnold Rüütel Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Turning 85 today, former president of Estonia, Arnold Rüütel said that present-day Estonia is not the land he had dreamed of, but acknowledged that much has been achieved.

“Current reality is in the shadow of dreams, and in that sense Estonia does not measure up to expectations. At the same time, the fact that we have regained our independence and accelerated development relatively successfully compared to other transitional societies and that we have kept going forward [...] we should be happy that we have achieved so much,” said Rüütel, speaking on ERR radio today.

Rüütel said that the country has failed to predict many risks and problems that have unavoidably accompanied reforms.

“Many working-age people are leaving the country and we have failed to create jobs for them. And we failed to address a number of other social problems, like support for the family, which society is based on. That has caused low birth rates,” said Rüütel, who was president between 2001 and 2006.

Rüütel concluded by saying that reforms have made the state sustainable, but looking farther ahead, it becomes clear that the problem of a declining population remains to be fixed.

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