Estonian National Museum (ERM) director and former Auditor General Alar Karis says that while he needs to work on those issues closest to his heart, but those which are related to his activities up until now, adding he sees a smart and educated populace as key to Estonia's future. Karis said Wednesday afternoon that he had accepted an offer to run as presidential candidate in the election starting August 30, following an offer from Riigikogu speaker Jüri Ratas (Center) to do so.
Karis set out his stall in an interview with ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Wednesday night, as follows.
How does it seem to you - are politicians showing a real, serious desire to consider you for the presidency, or could it all be referred to as shadow play?
I met with four party leaders this morning, and I was impressed with them; I also asked if the plan was serious, and the answer came back as yes. If you can look a person in the eye and he tells you something, I hope this is the case.
You worked as the Auditor General for many years and have come into contact with plenty of politicians in your life. Do you trust politicians?
This is such a hard question. After all, this is not about politicians in the broadest sense, but specific individuals, and if the people have elected them to parliament or the municipalities, then probably there is a trust in them. I see no reason to start a conversation in the knowledge I don't trust anyone
You are to meet with the leaders of the two largest parties, the Center Party and the Reform Party, tomorrow. Could it be the case that tomorrow, following these meetings, the smaller parties will also consider how to move forward?
We agreed to meet with other parties on Monday as well, so all four parties that have contacted me want to meet with me.
Don't you fear that on Sunday, when the Center Party's board meeting takes place, they will state that they have considered two very strong candidates, but that they still support Tarmo Soomere?
What is there to be afraid of. That is their decision, and that is how politics works; there is nothing to fear here. After all, in the end, what do we want? We want to be able to choose a president who is the best for that moment in time.
Presidents have always had some hallmark issues they stand for. What would these sincere things be, for you?
These have to be developed. I will certainly take on board with me those topics that previous presidents have carried, and will certainly add my own ones. Given my background – in education and science, and also innovation – which is a key thing and a very important thing to deal with, since a smart and education nation is vital for Estonia's future.
Alar Karis, 63, was Auditor General 2013-2018, after which he became director of the ERM, whose current buildings and location on the edge of Tartu had been opened a couple of years before. He was also Rector of Tartu University2007-2012.
Center had earlier this month proposed academic Tarmo Soomere as a candidate, but the negotiations foundered for the meantime due to an apparent lack of support from Reform, Isamaa and SDE, meaning the required 68 votes needed to get elected president might not have materialized from August 30.
The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has proposed its own candidate, Henn Põlluaas, while Kersti Kaljulaid at the beginning of this week expressed a willingness to run for a second term.
Editor: Andrew Whyte