Ilves: Ensuring survival of the Estonian people more important than economy

Estonia's previous president Toomas Hendrik Ilves said on the "Hommik Anuga" program that if during the 2009-2010 economic crisis potential solutions were rather clear, what awaits us now is uncharted territory. Ensuring the survival of the Estonian people takes precedence over the economy, Ilves said.

"There is little gain in having an economy if you're dead. The generation before mine understood perfectly that the main thing during World War II was to survive. Everything else can be rebuilt. But there is nothing without life," Ilves said. The former president hopes Estonia is concentrating mainly on public health today.

Talking about the looming economic disaster, Ilves said that if solving the 2009-2010 crisis was a political decision where countries opted for one of several possible solutions that were all relatively clear, we're looking at uncharted territory now. We do not even know whether the virus will mutate.

"If it will mutate, how quickly? Will it become a seasonal malady mutating and coming again in a slightly different form every year? That would require everyone to get an annual coronavirus shot. Or is it like measles that you can only catch once after which you'll be immune for life? We don't know."

There are too many variables in this equation to make predictions, Ilves found. "However, it will be far more complicated than the previous [economic] crisis where you could go down one of a few paths – decide to overspend or cut costs. That was a political debate. What we have today is something else entirely."

Digital state as an advantage

Ilves said that even though Estonians do not notice it themselves, the digital state means many parts of life remain operational and you don't have to go anywhere to take care of your interactions with the state.

"If I had to renew my driver's license here in California, I would have to go and queue for three or four hours. Literally queue between people. No such need in Estonia," he explained.

Ilves added that things Estonians are used to doing electronically and that baffle people in other countries are giving Estonians an advantage when it comes to adjusting to the situations today. "This thing is not as bad if you inhabit a digital world."


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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