PPA: Kadriorg need not be cordoned off to pedestrians

The president's office and official residence at Kadriorg. The forecourt is open to the adjacent street.
The president's office and official residence at Kadriorg. The forecourt is open to the adjacent street. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Pedestrian access outside Kadriorg, seat of the president, need not be restricted, the The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), which administers the site, says, though for security reasons vehicle access should be tightened up. A recent architectural vision for the head of state's residence would restrict access to both vehicles and people on foot.

Kadriorg, seat of the head of state and not to be confused with the neighboring, and much older, palace of the same name, lies just east of Tallinn city center and in the district of the same name.

As things stand, the residency's front entrance and parade ground is open to the adjacent road and can be accessed by vehicles ferrying official guests and people traveling there for work purposes alike.

Former president Toomas Hendrik Ilves received two of his U.S. counterparts, the only incumbent U.S. presidents to make an official visit to the country so far in fact, on that very parade ground over his two-term presidency – George W. Bush in 2006, and Barack Obama in 2014.

Ain Järve, the manager of Kadriorg Park, whose grounds the presidential palace is effectively an enclave of, aid that, to his knowledge, Estonia was the only EU state, aside from Malta, which had the privilege of allowing pedestrians to walk right past the president's palace.

However, Valter Pärn, head of the PPA's security bureau, told ERR that the days of vehicles being able to gain unfettered access are numbered, for security reasons.

"This is a preventive measure, to avoid incidents," Pärn said.

The security of buildings of national importance is ensured, and potential threats are assessed, by the PPA, which is responsible overall for the building.

At the same time, there was no reason to install obstacles to pedestrians, he said.

A recent architecture competition was won by a firm which envisages restricting access to the presidential palace frontage (the rear consists mainly of gardens and is walled-off).

Valter Pärn added that the PPA would be able to better advise Peeter Pere Arhitektid, the firm which won the tender for the redesign, on the realization of its project, due for completion in 2024 at a cost of an estimated €16.8 million, adding that, ultimately, the design was up to the firm.

Pärn said: "The proposal on how to solve it in such a way that it is compatible with the environment, meets the requirements of security and of heritage protection must be made by the designer."

Another recent change at Kadriorg was the switching out of the traditional parade dress, in favor of combat fatigues.

Reform MP and former Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) chief Ants Laaneots was seemingly tasked with the PR aspect of the change – actually implemented earlier in the summer – by dismissing the old parade uniforms as uncomfortable and archaic.

The EDF has also been hit with requirements to cut costs, following this year's state budget strategy publication.

Ain Järve, Kadriorg Park manager, conceded that security issues are important, given Estonia's position as both EU and NATO member state and the accompanying official visits that that can entail.

"Security is a major headache," he said, noting that the park, fully open to the public will, he hopes, continue to be involved in discussions regarding the securing of the president's residency.

Estonia joined both international organizations 17 years ago.

Kadriorg Palace, built by Tsar Peter the Great 300 years ago for his consort, Catherine I ("Kadriorg" simply means "Catherine's valley" in Estonian), contains a museum and ornamental gardens, which are open to the public on purchase of a ticket.

Kadriorg Park and nearby areas including the fountains and the channel used for the annual charity duck rally are also open access, though the park is policed quite strictly for misdeeds such as alcohol consumption, shirtless men during summer, and inadequate control of a pet dog.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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