Marina Kaljurand steps down as foreign minister, announces presidential candidacy

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Kaljurand after her meeting with Rõivas, Aug. 31, 2016. Source: (Siim Lõvi /ERR)

Marina Kaljurand announced on Friday that she was stepping down from her position as Minister of Foreign and would be running for the office of the President of the Republic of Estonia. “I have decided to ask for the support of electors,” she said at a press conference held at midday on Friday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"I submitted my letter of resignation to the prime minister this morning,” confirmed Kaljurand. “Today is my last day of work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The decision has been made — it was my decision,” she added in answer to a question regarding whether anyone had influenced her in making it.

“I will stand as a rock for Estonia,” said Kaljurand, commenting on the duties of the president.

Answering a journalist’s question, she also noted that even if she is not elected, she will not continue as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Asked if she had her next job lined up, then, Kalju replied that she didn’t.

Speaking at the press conference, Kaljurand said that she had taken time in the meantime to speak with the country’s electors, which served to confirm her choice to run for president.

“I will not start to speculate with numbers,” said Kaljurand, responding to a question regarding how many electors’ support did she currently have. “I have told electors that at some point I will turn to them for their signatures as well. Their spectrum is very broad — including representatives from a number of different political parties as well as representatives of voting alliances as well.”

Kaljurand reportedly already has the support of the 21 members of the electoral college needed to officially nominate her as a candidate in the upcoming elections, which are scheduled for Sept. 24 at noon.

According to her campaign chief Andreas Kaju, Kaljurand does not yet have the physical signatures, however naturally they would now begin to collect them. "I wouldn't want to show off with potential names yet," he added.

Kaljurand added that she had support among MPs as well.

Asked about her world views, Kaljurand replied that she would not begin commenting on them. “I have repeatedly made clear what kind of president I want to be,” she said. “I hope that everyone who knows how to read reads [the statements] and draws their own conclusions.”

Kaljurand added that while it did not mean that she would act irreverently toward political parties, “The fact that I am not backed by a party provides me with freedom and independence.”'

Regarding the subject of addressing Estonia’s Russian-speakers, Marina Kaljurand responded that she was already a unifying force, highlighting the fact the could address Russian-speaking Estonians in their own mother tongue and noting her visits to Ida-Viru County during which she gives interviews to local media as well as meets with students and other residents alike.

Kaljurand refused to comment on whether Kalle Palling would be an appropriate choice for the next Minister of Foreign Affairs, stating that it was the prime minister who must appoint her replacement.

Regarding the Administrative Reform Act passed this summer, Kaljurand found that it was the riight thing to do. “Local governments must certainly be listened to,” said Kaljurand. She also found it normal and justified that some local governments have taken the new law to the Supreme Court and requested a review of its constitutionality.

Kaljurand gave a live press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at noon on Friday; ERR broadcast the press conference live.

Rõivas asks Kaljurand to reconsider stepping down as foreign minister

Prime Minister and Reform Party Chairman Taavi Rõivas issued the following statement following his meeting with Kaljurand on Friday morning:

"Marina Kaljurand notified me of her decision to run for president early this morning," Prime Minister and Reform Party Chairman Taavi Rõivas announced in a press statement issued following his meeting with Kaljurand on Friday morning. "Although it can be expected that in the case of multiple candidates with a similar worldview, both candidates' odds are diminished, running for president is Kaljurand's personal decision and constitutional right.

"The Reform Party will support the candidacy of Siim Kallas in the electoral college, but it is clear that in order to be elected, Kallas must also receive support from other parties. We are not electing a president for the Reform Party but for the Republic of Estonia and the final outcome will depend, in addition to the political parties' decisions, in many ways upon the personal preferences of the electors as well.

"Marina Kaljurand expressed her desire in connection with her running for president to step down from the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs, but I do not consider this necessary and asked her to calmly reconsider. The need for a foreign minister who puts her heart into her work will not disappear following Sept. 24 either."

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

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