President: President's role is to be a liaison

Speaking on the "Nadala tegija" program of Kuku Radio, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said that each president must adapt to the circumstances and play the role of a so-called liaison in society.

Presenter Ulla Lants asked Kaljulaid whether it comes as a surprise to her that the presidential campaign to elect a new head of state has not yet started. Kaljulaid said that she has actually been worried for a long time and it is known that the procedure for electing the president needs to be adjusted, but this point has not been reached yet.

Kaljulaid said the last election campaign was already one that would have been appropriate for a direct presidential election. It would not have been a problem if each debate had started and ended with a reminder that it is very nice to get to know these people better, but the Estonian election procedure is different. "As always, the pendulum goes from one side to the other. Now we are on the other side," the president said.

Kaljulaid recalled that when she assumed office in 2016, she was aware that her most important task was to protect the constitutional order of Estonia. At the same time, at that time it seemed to many, including those who elected her, that it was more important to stand for Estonia's interests outside and be an important contributor to foreign policy. The circumstances simply turned out to be that Kaljulaid had to take on a much more foreign policy role than she would have expected or even wanted. "Every president must adapt to the surrounding circumstances and always do what is best for Estonia," she added.

Kaljulaid did not want to comment on whether and how much the president could or should be involved in party politics. She said it is not known in advance how important the role of the defender of the Constitution will become for the next president. Language skills and courage are important in defending Estonia and actively participating in foreign and security policy.

She pointed out that in international politics, leaders do not determine their influence by position. The president of a small country will be heard immediately the first time, but a second time only if there was something important to say and the ability to arouse interest the first time.

On the other hand, the relationship with the Estonian people is important for the work of the president, for example, which issues the president considers to be a bottleneck in the development of Estonia. Kaljulaid pointed out that for her, this has for a long time been dealing with the weakest, that is the understanding that well-being must be divided in society in such a way that other people are not trampled by those who are forging ahead.

In addition, she has been able to bring state policy closer to local policy makers by holding discussions in councils and schools on foreign policy, defense policy, and Estonia's place in the world. "In my opinion, a kind of liaison role, if I may say so, is the role of the president of Estonia," Kaljulaid said.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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