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President Kersti Kaljulaid takes oath of office

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President Kersti Kaljulaid took her oath of office in the Riigikogu on Monday. Kaljulaid and her husband, Georgi-Rene Maksimovski, were accompanied to Toompea Castle by outgoing President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and his spouse, Mrs. Ieva Ilves. The latter couple left the castle first, headed for Kadriorg, where the two presidents will host a reception at the Kadriorg Art Museum.

The Riigikogu’s sitting to swear in the president was opened by Deputy President of the Riigikogu Helir-Valdor Seeder (IRL). Seeder read out the amended agenda for the day, which was then voted on and adopted by the present members of parliament.

After a short wait, the house then raised for President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and president-elect Kersti Kaljulaid.

President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor (SDE) took over the sitting and introduced President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. In a short speech to the members of parliament and the present guests, Ilves said that the Riigikogu had eventually elected the next president in just the way the authors of the Constitution had envisioned it. Party egoism lost, and the spirit of cooperation won.

In his last speech as head of state, Ilves pointed to the balance between the state's institutions, and that this balance needed to be maintained and defended. He also thanked the Estonian people, saying that the president alone could achieve nothing. Serving as president had been his greatest joy and greatest honor, the outgoing president said.

Without further ado, Kersti Kaljulaid took the oath of office as set out by § 81 of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia:

In assuming the office of President of the Republic, I, Kersti Kaljulaid, solemnly swear to steadfastly defend the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Estonia, to exercise the power entrusted to me in a just and impartial manner, and to faithfully perform my duties with all of my abilities and to the best of my understanding, for the benefit of the people of Estonia and the Republic of Estonia.

President Kaljulaid then signed her oath, upon which outgoing President Ilves passed the chain of office on to her.

In her following speech, President Kaljulaid recalled how 25 years ago Estonia's independence had been restored in that very same hall. Estonia was now a 21st century democracy, Kaljulaid said, and to a whole new generation of children the occupation just a story told by their grandparents.

The Estonian education system could keep up with the rest of the world, and so could its healthcare system, Kaljulaid went on. And Estonia had its culture, and its language. But all these things could not be taken for granted. The fact was also that Estonians are an ageing people, and that there were fewer and fewer of them.

Nobody could pick the age and the world they lived in, the president went on to say. It entirely depended on individuals' world view how they met others: As competitors, or as companions.

Kaljulaid then returned to an image she had used previously as well, namely that of the self-confident citizen. Confident citizens founded companies and worked to the adcancement of all of a society, she said, while insecure citizens would concentrate on flaws instead.

A 21st century state needed to have long-term objectives, Kaljulaid continued. She quoted Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who in his own first speech as president famously said that the only thing one had to fear was fear itself.

The president pointed out that Roosevelt had said more, namely that Americans' common difficulties only concerned material things. Kaljulaid stressed that Estonia's biggest difficulty was never, ever of an economic nature, but a matter of security. She went on to say that Estonia needed to be a good ally, and that above all Estonians needed to be confident and believe in themselves and the country.

Presidents Kaljulaid and Ilves proceded to Kadriorg, where beginning 5 p.m. they will host a reception at the Kadriorg Art Museum.

Kersti Kaljulaid was elected President of the Republic on Oct. 3, 2016, in the Riigikogu. Of 98 votes cast, 81 were in her favor, with 17 members of the Riigikogu turning in empty ballot sheets.

Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn

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