Raul Rebane: Let's find the president a residence of their own

Raul Rebane.
Raul Rebane. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

Raul Rebane proposes the President of Estonia be found an official residence. It is complicated for a president to make such a proposal, because people will accuse them of wanting to build a house for themselves. In actuality, a residence is no different from a work computer or car, Rebane notes in Vikerraadio's daily comment.

Now is a good time to bring up the president's residence, because Kersti Kaljulaid can no longer be suspected of wanting to build something for herself. Alar Karis cannot yet affect anything. Presidents are out of the game, it is now up to us. Do we deem this a necessary thing? I do.

The current apartment offered to presidents is located in an administrative building in Kadriorg, which was completed in 1938 and designed by Alar Kotli. Konstantin Päts' apartment and rooms were located at the Kadriorg Palace, which now hosts a museum. In addition, the president could use the Oru Castle in Toila as a summer residence. This was used for domestic and diplomatic receptions.

Something like that does not exist now, everyone is fit into the old administrative building, meaning the president must technically live in the home of Päts' adjutant. Or in their own home, as has also happened. Until 2007, a house in Paslepa, Noarootsi, has been used as the president's summer residence. This was given up for multiple reasons, primarily because it was not functional, it was just some regular summer house.

One of the tasks of a president is representation and they have to do this on all levels. The current situation means rooms have to be rented to invite guests and to host larger diplomatic receptions. The president's own home was used to host other presidents at the time of Toomas Hendrik Ilves, but this would no longer be correct.

In other countries, the residence is divided into a work and personal zone. The president can be an older man or a younger woman with children, which bring different requirements. To say the president should send their children someplace else to grow during their presidency because there are not enough rooms is an embarrassing idea. It would also not be correct that children run around in the president's office.

I think the current situation is a national cheap flight and is not worthy of an independent state. It is hard to explain what has brought forth such a silly situation and different options have been discussed, but it has always stalled. It is complicated for a president to make such proposals, because they will immediately be accused of wanting to build themselves a nice house. In actuality, a residence is no different from a work computer or car.

The top officials of the state must be guarded. Attempts to sneak past this or using cheaper alternatives can end poorly. National shocks and tragedies cost much more as a rule than can be saved otherwise. It is no argument that it has not happened here. Illusions of safety in Sweden ended in 1986, when prime minister Olof Palme was killed. This was followed by the murder of foreign minister Anna Lindh in 2003.

It is true that there are very few politically charged murders and attacks in northern countries, but we do not lack crazy people, either. In a building specially designed as a residence, protection can be organized more effectively and more humanely for the security guards. They must also have neat work and personal rooms.

Perhaps we can learn from our northern neighbors when it comes to our president's working conditions? I remember TV Finland's (YLE - Finnish national broadcaster - ed) overview of the president's summer residence in Kultaranta, where it was proudly displayed what a solid place Finnish architects and designers have created to represent the country. In addition, the world's top politicians have stayed the night there, offering additional diplomatic opportunities.

This is completely ruled out here, no place to sleep. In addition, the Finnish president can use a representative apartment in Helsinki's presidential palace and a house in Mäntyniemi. The house, by the way, is 2,300 m2 and an artistic achievement.

I will make this crazier. I think in addition to the Stenbock House, the prime minister should also have their own residence. Imagine our next prime minister is from an apartment building in Lasnamäe. You would have to disturb the lives of quite a few neighbors and it would be a logistical nightmare. If the prime minister is not from Tallinn, which is also possible, it brings a whole new set of issues. This could be avoided by a simple solution, which I would not call a residence, but instead a working house. This will be used for as long as the prime minister is in office.

Now, everyone will ask what this would cost. It will cost what it costs. In a country with 13 percent economic growth and a miss of €300 million in the state budget, it is not too much. It's all in our thinking and our attitude towards our country, meaning how proud we want to be and what do we want to be proud of.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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