President: The government should have done much better in managing pandemic

President Alar Karis.
President Alar Karis. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Governmental policy, along with individuals failing to comply with coronavirus restrictions, are to blame for recently soaring coronavirus rates in Estonia, President Alar Karis says. Karis singled out governmental communication on the pandemic and its ensuing restrictions in particular.

Speaking pointedly at a press conference at the University of Tartu - Karis is a former rector - and accompanied by his Latvian counterpart Egils Levits, on his first official visit to Estonia since Karis took office last month, the Estonian head of state said that: "The government should have done a much better job - especially in communication, where there are shortcomings in the clarity of messages."

The nation has much to complain about on decision-making and the taking of responsibility in Estonia, he added.

"Estonia certainly cannot be satisfied with the current situation," he said, noting that the people are also culpable.

"We also have to look at ourselves - how we comply with the rules and restrictions. So it is the fault of both the government and the people - how they have acted," the president concluded.

President Levits' own country has been suffering similarly high rates of coronavirus – among the highest in Europe – as well as hospitalizations and deaths, and the two heads of state had much to talk about on the matter.

Prior to the University of Tartu press conference and welcome by current rector, Toomas Asser, the two heads of state met at the South Estonian town of Otepää, and visited St. Mary's Church, site of the first consecration of the Estonian blue-black-white flag.

They were received on arriving at Estonia's second city, and Karis' hometown, Tartu, where he resided up until October, by mayor Urmas Klaas (Reform).

The meeting was the first in-person of the two heads of state, and, on a lighter note, onlookers finally got a chance to see for themselves the close resemblance the pair seem to bear to one another. An earlier planned meeting in Riga last month was called off after President Levits contracted the coronavirus, though the Estonian president's official visit still went ahead.

President Levits is also due to visit the Baltic Defence College, also situated in Tartu.

South Estonia and the northernmost parts of Latvia together constituted the historical region of Livonia.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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