Government order would cover presidential spouse's foreign visit costs

The current presidential spouse, Sirje Karis, with the head of state, Alar Karis.
The current presidential spouse, Sirje Karis, with the head of state, Alar Karis. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

A draft regulation would reimburse the Estonian president's spouse for expenses incurred in the course of official visits outside of Estonia, even when unaccompanied by the head of state.

At present, the presidential spouse is reimbursed for costs only when accompanying the president on official visits.

Justice Minister Lea Danilson-Järg (Isamaa) has sent the draft government regulation for its approval round, as per standard practice.

The draft's explanatory memorandum states that the change is justified in cases where the head of state's spouse is engaged in activities outside Estonia, at a time which does not fit in with the president's official schedule.

These activities include charity work and sponsored events, which, the memorandum says, have sometimes taken place in the past, involving the presidential spouse, but separately from the president's official duties.

The note explains that such cases do not occur very frequently, but it may be expedient to establish "procedures for reimbursing expenses of the President of the Republic's missions," in order to provide a basis for the presidential spouse to be able to organize cross-border communication in their chosen field of activity.

These activities would be based more on need than opportunity, and the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia could thus properly formalize such missions, the explanatory note continues.

These would as noted concern official duties which the presidential spouse was conducting alone, and unaccompanied by the head of state.

The required resources would be included in the presidential office annual budget and reimbursement would be granted on a per diem basis, the draft regulation states.

All of Estonia's five presidents, since the restoration of independence in 1991, have been married at the time of entering office.

The current presidential spouse is first lady Sirje Karis.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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