Rüütel: Something wrong if energy policy causes people to use candlelight

Arnold Rüütel.
Arnold Rüütel. Source: Magnus Markus Lutter / ERR

Former president Arnold Rüütel said in an interview with ETV that if Estonia's energy policy forces people to extreme austerity, then there is something wrong. Rüütel said an independent energy base should be created.

"If we cause people to use candlelight because of energetics, then something is truly wrong. Changing into an energy importing country is no way out, either, we need to deal with creating our own energy base, which is independent from the capital of other countries," Rüütel said.

Commenting on issues in Estonia, the country's second post-independence president (2001-2006) was modest and said president's do not interfere in domestic politics. "There are issues, which need to be paid attention to in the current Estonian political system. If we say something is very wrong, motivation goes and development stops. None of us want that," Rüütel said.

"I am not an advocate for completely liberal economic policy. That choice was also not our first priority after regaining independence," the former head of state noted.

Estonia joining EU and NATO key events

ETV show host Grete Lõbu asked Rüütel to look back on his presidential term and point out the most important events. "I would consider joining the European Union and NATO the most important events," he answered.

"We went to war against terrorists alongside the U.S. before we were accepted into NATO. I think it was the correct move for us and that was certainly appreciated during our joining process," Rüütel added.

He noted that Estonia has always belonged in the European cultural space, even when it was occupied by Imperial Russia. "The danger of Estonia and the Baltics was present even during the times when Estonia became independent after the August Coup (August 19-22 1991 - ed). The only option was to support the EU and to make sense of it in the long-term perspective," Rüütel said of joining the EU, which Estonia eventually did in 2004.

"There was no support for it in Estonia, there was a saying of us just having left one union and now joining another, which was true in a sense and well sensed by the people. But I still found that we cannot ensure our independence otherwise, we cannot even create security forces, which could handle possible threats," the former president noted.

The 93-year old man is still active and works out

The former head of state, born in 1928, said he works and tries to be active every day. "I have assistants provided by the state - a driver, a secretary and an adviser. That is how we all work together. I have left myself an option of reading everyday, I go through the newspapers and try to read a few books, even those that I have been sent," Rüütel said.

He added that future generations provide him with the most happiness these days. "It is through them that we can also relive our lives."

Rüütel said he is still happy about Estonia being an independent country. "I am happy that we have been able to maintain independence for 30 years. What is to come will depend on us and our leaders to not give away our freedom," the former president said.

Responding to a question about his greatest regrets, lessons and achievements, Rüütel said: "It is a little early to make final decisions today. Actors would respond to the question by saying their best roles are yet to come. I cannot really regret anything. 5.5 years in military service were an education for me. We must also consider it very important to remain ourselves even during the roughest and most revolutionary periods. It was easier for me to do so, because I sensed the support of the Estonian people."

The former president noted that he stays in shape by pole walking with his wife Ingrid and uses different workout machines if the weather is not nice enough for a walk outside.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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