President: The prime minister has provided explanation but not answers

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

President Alar Karis told ETV's "Pealtnägija" in an interview that while Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has provided the public with explanations regarding the scandal that involves her husband, the most important questions have not been answered. Karis, who will soon reach the equator of his first term in office, finds that presidents could get a single seven-year term in Estonia.

We met two years ago when you were elected president in the Riigikogu, and we speculated back then as to what your life will be like. To what extent have these expectations been confirmed?

They have been confirmed to some extent. There are nuances you do not pick up on as a bystander. But I have been close to other presidents in the past. It is a little different when you're the one holding office, while it is nothing major. There have not been any great surprises.

Still, what has been the biggest?

It is not perhaps surprising, but you do not get a lot of time to think things over. You need to keep moving and doing. I'm not saying there is no time for reflection, but really thinking your next steps through requires more pause. However, I suppose it inevitably comes with the office. And having the time to sit down and think everything through will probably remain a dream.

I'm sure every job has some irritating aspects – moody colleagues or a tight schedule. What most bothers you about the job?

I have been lucky when it comes to my colleagues. I have also been able to pick some of them, although not most.

I would not point to any irritation. They are minor details. I have mentioned one aspect before, people recognizing you and wanting to talk or take a picture with you – there being less privacy, and you don't get to go home as often as you'd like. But the office also has its brighter moments.

Have you ever regretted the decision to run for president and take up the office?

I do not tend to regret the things I've done. I often regret the things I haven't done in life. But I usually do not worry about or feel regret over what's done.

We've had a turbulent summer. Looking at various scandals, they suggest something is wrong in Estonia. There is a measure of nervousness and twitching. How would you define what is happening in Estonia right now?

Is it just Estonia? I believe there is wider uncertainty for the future in the context of the Ukraine war. Europe has come to a point where it needs to fight to keep what it has achieved. At the same time, there are parts of the world where the people are bright-eyed and have a clearer goal in front of them. It is something we would do well to consider. Also here in Estonia. But yes, the times are a little more nervous than they should be in our country.

What is causing it?

Difficult to say. Social scientists will need to figure out why that is. But the general atmosphere always affects people and their behavioral patterns. Such general nervousness can make people act in less than rational ways.

Let us come to the topics of the day. Things having to do with the business network of Kaja Kallas' husband that ends up in Russia. You have said that the prime minister must provide the public with sufficient explanation. Do you find that she has succeeded and society has been given the answers it wants?

There are two sides to this. The prime minister has provided explanations, while we may not have received any answers. She is increasingly going into details.

It is not a matter of how much of what was taken to Russia. The point is that the Russia connection is there.

It is rather a matter of morals and ethics. And it needs to be seen from the point of view of the prime minister's reaction when it become public.

What is your moral judgment of the whole thing?

In terms of morals, it is understandably an unfortunate situation.

I do not like putting myself in the prime minister's shoes, but I would probably have reacted sooner and made a clearer decision. The problem would not have disappeared, but it would also not have escalated to the point where we're discussing it not just at barbeques but also during meetings with foreign colleagues – it comes up straight away. And even in cases where it doesn't, you can feel the topic floating in the air between us.

What is it that the premier should have decided sooner?

I believe her reaction should have been faster. Back when sanctions were introduced and she knew her husband had those kinds of business ties. To have said at the time, yes, I know my husband has these business connections, while they will be severed now. He will pull out, and then we would have had clarity in the matter.

Next, there was a point where she could have said that perhaps I should not be prime minister in this situation, should resign. She would have been able to mount a far more effective defense if she had not been prime minister.

You and your wife seem very close. When did you last lend her money or receive a loan from her? And did you tell her why you needed the money?

We do not usually borrow money from one another, and neither of us owns any companies. We used to, but that was a long time ago.

We have been married so long we share the same budget. There is no need for loans, and the sums in our bank accounts are hardly astronomical.

To what extent is it probable that people lend one another hundreds of thousands of euros without discussing what the money is for?

That is a hypothetical question. People are different. I would ask if I were to lend someone money, even just €20.

Money you give to your children is not a loan, while you still ask how they plan to spend it, whether on bubble gum or something else.

There are other companies with business networks in Russia 18 months into the Ukraine war. How is it affecting Estonia's credibility?

We are in the spotlight in those terms today, and it is less than ethical to make the argument that others do it too. But the problem is clearly there, the problem of companies in Europe and other G7 countries still in business in Russia, trying to find ways to bypass sanctions. And indeed finding them. The relative importance of companies that are still active in Russia is great.

But, again, this is no excuse to say that we should act in the same way other countries do.

What would be your recommendation for Estonian companies that are still doing business in Russia today?

My recommendation is very simple. For as long as we are locked in this conflict with our neighbor, as long as they're waging war in Ukraine, we need to swallow the losses and pull out of there.

There are risks in the world of business which you need to factor in. Going into business, you need to think about how to pull out should something happen.

And your recommendation for the prime minister?

Hard to say. Perhaps, should the prime minister so decide – to come meet me in Kadriorg. Whether paper (letter of resignation – ed.) in hand or not, but to discuss the situation.

Do you feel you should get involved to a greater degree?

No, I do not want to get down to the details. Rather, I'm interested in the human reaction.

Taavi Eilat and Alar Karis. Source: Heliis Raudsik / ERR

Perhaps society is waiting for the president to make a move, tell the prime minister something and invite her to resign?

The president cannot recall the prime minister in Estonia. The PM will have to make that decision for themselves, after which the president can decide whether to accept their resignation or not. But the initiative must come from the prime minister.

We have a precedent from 2012 when your predecessor Toomas Hendrik Ilves clearly suggested that Kristen Michal needs to resign. He did eventually.

Those who have paid attention have probably found it in this interview. It is a matter the prime minister should quickly resolve, provided she already hasn't by the time the interview airs.

You believe she should resign?

Again, it is her decision. But were I in her shoes, I would have taken that step a lot sooner.

To what extent have you felt this summer that you are in a similar position to that of Kaja Kallas? She is embroiled in a major scandal because of her husband's business dealings, while your scandal started with your adviser Toomas Sildam's conversations. Both cases have hit you and the prime minister harder than they have the people who did the deeds.

The president is an institution and scandals or even information attacks have an effect, whether they're big or small. No one has the time to really get to the bottom of all the details and people tend to simply take away that there must have been something there for the president or the prime minister. Unfortunately, this goes beyond Estonia's borders. It is something that needs to be kept in mind when such scandals surface.

But do you see the similarity between these cases, and how it seems like there were problems, even though it might not factually be the case?

President, premiers and other ministers all have their problems, while I would refrain from lumping them in together.

The president cannot be bought. The Constitution affords not such possibility. The president cannot afford to proclaim laws that are unconstitutional. It would be immediately visible and discredit the president. We have the justice chancellor, the Supreme Court, the Riigikogu opposition all of which would immediately pick up on that. It is impossible even in theory. That is why I'm not letting this scandal phase me too much.

(Karis' internal affairs adviser Toomas Sildam allegedly suggested to high-ranking Finance Ministry officials mid-June that the president might proclaim laws faster if the Office of the President was allocated additional funding in the middle of the fiscal year. Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev then held back the extra funding, suggesting it would not feel ethical to grant it in such a situation. Toomas Sildam has said he was joking during what was an informal conversation – ed.)

To what extent have you analyzed the incident that arose from Toomas Sildam's conversations with different people. Where did your adviser err, and where did others?

It is difficult for me to gauge as I was not present for the conversations. I do not know what was said. What I can say is that when it came to the attention of the [finance] minister and the prime minister, the first thing to do would have been to call me. To ask me what was going on, whether it was all true?

Those steps were not taken. But I find it difficult to comment on conversations had behind a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

This thing entails another danger. That people will become more restrained in their jokes and remarks at informal events – a restrictive factor, which I believe we should not have in our country. People should have the right to make jokes even if the other side does not understand them.

What about your own sense of humor?

It has been suggested I have a pretty good one. I also don't mind too much when people make fun of me. It can be pretty amusing at times.

Take away humor from the atmosphere we're in today and what is left? I believe that people need to have a sense of humor and the possibility of jokes needs to be retained as it can help overcome difficult situations, ease tensions.

Do you understand Toomas Sildam's jokes, which we could describe as legendarily bad, based on what we've heard and read?

I understand Toomas Sildam's jokes.

Whether he understands my jokes is another question. I've also been told my jokes are peculiar. People can have very different humor senses, which is also true for different peoples and nations. Something that needs to be considered.

To what extent was Toomas Sildam pursuing his personal agenda, or to what extent was it coordinated with you? Him tying together different topics one of which was additional funding for your office?

It would be difficult for us to agree on anything in those terms as the Office of the President's financial affairs are handled by its director. They need to make sure there is enough money.

It is not a matter of whether the Office of the President has money or whether it has gone bust. It's a matter of not being able to perform all of the president's tasks in the best possible way.

Talk of the office having run out of money six months into the year is wrong! Such institutions cannot go bankrupt. We are simply dialing back our activities. But it also dials back the dignity of the public sector in some ways.

I have told every finance and prime minister during my time in office that we do not have enough resources. I have helped disseminate the message, which I find only natural.

You said that it's the director of the office and not the internal affairs adviser responsible for money. But were you aware of Sildam's actions or not?

No, I was not aware, while it is no secret around the office that we need more resources. And if our employee meets someone who can communicate the information to the government, there is nothing wrong with that, provided they explain why the presidential office needs more resources.

How much of a problem is it when an employee does something that ends up hurting your reputation?

There is some reputational damage involved here, while it serves as a lesson. I believe that one should exercise more caution in such conversations, including with people you know.

But, again, it is also a bad lesson in that it works to restrict... I would not beat around the bush – restricts freedom of speech.

Toomas Sildam has said himself that he will rather communicate with the finance minister via email in the future. What about you – will you still call Finance Minister Mart Võrklaev?

He asked me to call if there was any confusion. But I think that it was not a case of me failing to understand something, but rather the Estonian people not understanding the whole thing. I'm talking about efforts to lay down a certain tax (car tax – ed.).

I have called the prime minister and other ministers on the phone when it has been necessary. There is no need for idle chatter, and you don't always have to go for the phone about every little thing. But sure, if there is something major to discuss.

You have not exactly seen eye to eye with the prime minister on several important topics this summer.

I would not make such a claim. I see no reason to be at odds personally with the prime minister. That we all make mistakes, some bigger than others, does not mean we should stop communicating with people.

We represent institutions, and institutions must stay in touch irrespective of who is serving as minister, premier or president. People have different personalities, and it is easier to talk to some than others. But work needs to be done. Therefore, I see no reason to fall out with people.

Taavi Eilat and Alar Karis. Source: Heliis Raudsik / ERR

What about the scandal revolving around the institution you represent – is it payback from the Reform Party? While I wouldn't know what for, it has been suggested.

Hard to say. We can all see how thoughts and ideas take off and spread these days. Trying to analyze every move in terms of why the person made it... I would never get anything else done. Who raised what is not the first thing on my mind.

However, these things need to be pointed out if they start paralyzing the state and its dignity.

Let us talk about money – what started all this. Is the Office of the President really strapped for cash?

Who has unlimited resources these days? I dare say no one. But the Office of the President and the president have their tasks to perform. And we need to perform them in the best possible way.

There is the minimum program so to speak, while the president must also look far ahead and engage in foreign relations the benefits of which will be reaped years from now, perhaps during the term of the next president even. That is also one of the president's functions and that part of the budget is rather limited today. We must also look to far-away countries. Whether we're talking about the Arab countries, Asia or Africa as things will be happening there that might come to affect us a decade from now.

Looking at your annual budgets, they have been growing from one year to the next. So what is the problem?

Yes, but coming from the world of science, I can tell you that numbers need to be put in the right context. We need to compare them to the Government Office or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That is when we'll understand what this growth means. Budgets have been growing everywhere, which process is now slowing. If the Office of the President has also seen a little more money, it has been for IT investments. I would expect people analyzing something to pull up the data and make a comparison.

Having talked to more than a few state officials who have been responsible for budgeting, they are wondering how is it possible to be out of money by the month of May. It means that whoever is in charge of the budget is not doing a very good job.

You have probably talked to people who do not know what our budget consists of and how it is being used. Constitutional institutions do not use their budgets on a monthly basis. There are often unexpected additional expenses. It can happen that the previous president has invited someone for a state visit. Now, the president of that country tells me it's time for them to come to Estonia. We need to find the necessary resources. And if that money gets spent during the first half-year, foreign communication will need to be dialed back in the second.

Staff expenses make for the other thing. We have advisers rotating in from the Foreign Ministry and other ministries. And it is a problem when they have to work just as hard or even harder at the Office of the President but receive a lower salary. The president should be surrounded by the best possible people for us to be proficient at what we do.

Seeing as you were not granted additional funding, will the Office of the President be on a penny-pinching regime this fall?

I would not be quite as dramatic as that. We will get done the visits we absolutely need to get done. I will be going to Bucharest for the Three Seas Initiative meeting as everyone will be represented there. There will also be a meeting of presidents who do not attend the European Council in Portugal. Those are things I cannot miss.

But we are short when it comes to some important visits we have been working toward. These visits are not a case of waking up Monday and deciding I will be going to Australia Tuesday. It takes a very long time to prepare for these visits, and it is a shame when they are postponed or canceled. And vice versa, when we are forced to cancel the Estonia visits of those who wish to come here. It is a matter of the country's dignity.

But is it a case of having to cancel visits you wanted to make or people you were looking forward to hosting because of funds shortage?

It is, even though I would not like to...

What do your colleagues think when you tell them that you do not have the money?

Look, presidents inhabit a world of mutual courtesy and manners. And understanding. Other countries cannot always do everything they want either.

This does not create any bad blood between presidents when someone cannot make a visit or receive guests. The teams preparing for those visits on both sides can be a little disgruntled sometimes.

Does this mainly concern foreign visits or also touring Estonia?

It also concerns Estonia. In a situation where your funds are limited, you try to find ways of cutting back. And unlike ministries, we do not have buffers. Ministries have backup options, even though those buffers can differ from one ministry to the next. Therefore, I do not really subscribe to the principle of universal cuts.

Rather, I think that some ministries or administrative areas should receive more funds if we want our country to function properly.

How ambitious have your austerity discussions gotten? It has been suggested, half-jokingly I presume, that the February 24 [Anniversary of the Republic] reception might be canceled?

February 24 and August 20 [Day of Restoration of Independence] are too important not to celebrate. But it is true that we have discussed them as both events have gotten more expensive. We buy in everything as a service. And if you are told every year than everything has gotten 30 percent more expensive, you need to figure out a way to get it done in a way that wouldn't feel cheap.

These are events that absolutely must shine. Including the Rose Garden event [August 20]. We're trying to expand the guest list so it would not be this hugely exclusive thing, so that as many people as possible could attend. We have succeeded in the last two years, and the weather has also favored us. But cutting corners there or even canceling these events would cost us something far more valuable.

How sensible was President Kersti Kaljulaid's decision to shelve the Liberty Manor project for a presidential residence? We hear the property has been put up for sale now. She did not need a new home, while you did not live in Tallinn when you became president.

I would not make this about the Liberty Manor, which was in bad repair and is perhaps not the best located since the president would have to cross the city to get to work. Whether to have a presidential residence should not depend on whether the president comes from Tallinn or elsewhere. Presidents are also different. I'm used to living in Kadriorg, in the same building that houses the office.

But some presidents do expect to also have a residence, which is only sensible. Let us be honest, some of hour neighbors have several presidential residences.

It is a place for receiving visitors. It is quite difficult to do in my Kadriorg apartment today. It would be possible in a residence with more space, freedom and intimacy.

Taavi Eilar interviewing Alar Karis. Source: Heliis Raudsik / ERR

You inhabit the residential quarters of the Office of the President and simply walk in a different door in the same building when the workday ends.

I inhabit a corner of the building, and my work and personal life do tend to get mixed up. I have walked into my office in house slippers, while I haven't shuffled around in my pajamas. But the divider between work and personal life tends to disappear there.

But it is just another inevitability in this job, which I have become accustomed to. You have little privacy.

When Mrs. Sirje Karis was working as a museum director in Tartu two years ago, there was talk that she might stay in your private home.

Yes, we did think that initially, but the first lady has quite a few tasks pursuant to my office. It was a little difficult to do both – one or the other had to be picked. More so as we are talking about different cities.

I believe that her role as patron is also new and interesting for her. She is set to fly to Kyiv following an invitation from the president's wife to discuss the health and mental health of children, which is crucial in the context of the war. She has several roles to fulfill and could hold down two professions.

Have you consciously decided that your wife will be a lot more visible than President Kersti Kaljulaid's husband was.

Doing things and how the media sees or covers them are two different things. You can do a lot of nice things, but they will remain isolated if it does not reach the media. That is not to say it subtracts from their worth of course. The role of their spouse is another thing presidents have to decide.

I know a major country's president whose wife decided to get a job after they were reelected. She said that she did not want to retire as the president's wife, but from an actual job.

How dignified is the presidential office in Estonia today?

You and the public are better judges of that. There have been discussions in terms of whether Estonia even needs a president. I believe that the institution has a balancing effect. It helps keep the powers separate, and we can keep it for the time being.

The other discussion of whether the president should be elected directly or in the parliament – the people have not elected a single president since Estonia regained its independence. There was an attempt. I promised to discuss the matter with political parties when I first took office. And I have. However, there is no consensus among them for direct presidential elections.

How active do you think you have been as president, both in public and communicating with other heads of state?

I cannot really appraise myself. We have decided that the prime minister attends NATO summits and the European Council, while the president is in charge of the UN things. It determines your public presence to an extent. If the prime minister and foreign minister are up to the task, it makes no sense to also try and make the scene there. Sometimes, you can help smooth over rough edges.

I have no desire to be permanently on the front page. There are different ways of getting the work done, and countries can have very different ways of going about it. The president of Germany also has a job to do, while people tend to know about chancellors instead.

We've been over your sense of humor, but how well do you put up with criticism?

Who likes criticism, but if it is constructive, it sticks with you and makes you wonder how much truth could there be to it. You don't just brush it off completely. It deserves analysis if it is criticism and not just carping.

It has been suggested that you spend most of your time in Estonia, that you do not travel the world as much as your predecessors.

Different president have had different roles at different times. It is something the president must get a feel for. It's fine to travel the world, but you need to analyze the effect.

When Kersti Kaljulaid was president, Estonia was looking at non-permanent UN Security Council membership, and that is the role she played. Looking at statistics, I have been to more countries that I would perhaps have liked during my two years in office. These trips have not been to very far-away countries, but they have been necessary. I have done quite a lot of traveling.

I recently heard someone suggest that we wanted a president like Arnold Rüütel who would also speak foreign languages. And we got a president like Arnold Rüütel who speaks other languages.

I find it hard to comment as the thought did not come from me. You'll need to ask the person. Such comparisons are made half-jokingly, while they are still an indication of something.

Presidents are judged a decade after their time, when it has become clear what their effect was in their own time. It is impossible to judge a president at a glance, unless they do something to paralyze their country's reputation.

When I interviewed security expert Meelis Oidsalu, pointing once more to Kaja Kallas' scandal, he said that it has had some positive effects – one is the political awakening of President Karis, to suggest you've found your inner Kersti Kaljulaid.

What can I say... You do not need to react to every little thing. There are a lot of things where I could speak my mind on a weekly basis. But I believe it would discredit the institution.

You need to speak up when it's the president's place to do so. I do not necessarily like various laws or things the government does, but it would not be sensible to publicly criticize those things. More so as that is not what the president is meant to do in Estonia. The president awakens when he needs to.

Let us switch gear. When you took office two years ago, you talked about a smart nation. How is educating the people coming along?

The nation gets smarter all the time. We visited a kindergarten today and I urged the children to hold on to their ability to ask questions. The more questions you know how to ask, the smarter our people will become. It constitutes movement toward the ideal. That is what we're trying to do, and education is among the most important pillars of this, not just on the individual level, but also in terms of national security. The smarter we are, the smarter our decisions can be and the keener our insights into the future.

Alar Karis. Source: Siim Lõvi / ERR

Several longstanding problems persist in the field of education. Let us start with the switch from teaching in Russian to Estonian. What have we been doing wrong?

It has probably not been taken seriously enough. I recently met with students studying to become teachers at Tallinn University. True, 90 percent of them are already teaching on the side. Some work in Russian schools. They said it is not an easy task. Teachers coming from a Russian background or native language environment but speak perfect Estonian. They told me of plenty of colleagues who cannot learn the language but are great teachers otherwise.

One thing I ask teachers with a Russian or Ukrainian background is whether having learned Estonian gives them an advantage. And they tell me it does not. In other words, society does not feel that learning Estonian really gives you an edge. One of the answers I got was that we can do just fine with Russian, the Estonian people love us, and why should we learn the language.

Therefore, you need to delve deep into this matter, especially in areas where you don't hear Estonian too often. Teaching everyone Estonian is also expensive.

I have proposed taking a year to only teach Estonian. A young person can learn a language in a year, half a year even. And then we could go back to other subjects already in Estonian. Spending a year on it would not be all that bad in the modern world. Young people go abroad as exchange students and then come back all the time. I believe it is worth considering as a way to speed up the transition.

Do you believe some politicians, and mainly on the local government level, are sabotaging the switch?

I have seen no direct sabotage, while I have not discussed it in depth with local governments. The general picture is that everyone wants the transition to happen. But the devil is in the details, which is where problems start.

Another problem that has persisted for years, and which you already pointed to, is the number of teachers willing to get up before class.

Luckily, recent figures tell us of increased interest to become a teacher. But young teachers say that the workload is such to necessitate an assistant teacher position. If we exhaust a young teacher during their first years in school, people will leave and find another profession. On the other hand, we have an older generation of teachers who would like to retire. And this leaves us in a situation where we do not have enough teachers.

While we came together as a nation for the Song and Dance Festival this year, it remains a fact that the Estonian population is shrinking. How to solve that problem?

It is a problem not just for Estonia. It is a problem for many countries, even China. But how to boost the number of babies being born... It is a matter of having an environment that favors having kids. You need a brighter outlook, something along the lines of what we had in the early 1990s. We had a vision for the future. We don't have one today.

But I believe children will still be born.

Can or should family policy only be about money?

It should definitely not all be about money, while some families do need support. Young people with one, two or three children – it is also a financial burden. We also have single parents in need of support. So benefits should not disappear, while the system should be much simpler than what is being attempted today.

We started talking about the population and Estonians and immediately arrived at births. Is is possible to become an Estonia in other ways and shouldn't we promote it more?

If you are talking about becoming Estonian in the context of there being a lot of people of very different ethnic backgrounds in Estonia, it is a matter of how a person feels, whether you feel you're an Estonian or not. Irrespective of whether your grandparents were of some other nationality.

I visited Narva a little over a year ago for a discussion on who the people of Narva are. I said that if you're Russian, what's wrong with being a Russian, living in Narva and also being a citizen of the Republic of Estonia? A person should not have to hide their roots or background, even though people tend to hold back nowadays as there is war in Ukraine. But I think we all come from a background. Nationalities mix, and it is all rather a matter of how a person feels.

I spent five or six years living in the Netherlands, and I never felt it made me Dutch. It was suggested to me to get Dutch citizenship, while I remained an Estonian. I would probably still have been an Estonian there after ten years.

In other words, Turkish people, Finns and whoever else in Estonia – if they learn the language, secure Estonian citizenship and feel that they are Estonian, then they are Estonian?

It is a long process. It's not quite a case of arriving from Turkey, quickly learning the language and getting Estonian citizenship to become Estonian. It takes more time. Turkish people are still Turkish people even in countries where they have lived for a long time, while they have the latter's citizenship.

Allow me to return to the beginning of our conversation. Do I have it right that based on recent experience, you like your job?

Every job that someone has held down, or I have had, has those moments when you think, darn it. But they also have other moments which make it all worth it. In my job, you meet people who you would not otherwise meet and grow wiser for it. You see that the world and indeed Estonia is a much wider place than you would in some other job.

You have been in office for roughly half of your term. I suppose it is time to ask whether you would consider running for a second?

You are right in pointing out that I'm nearing my half-term. The time to make that decisions is once I cross that line. Until then, I will continue to try and do my best in this office.

Looking at my CV, I have not been big on second terms so far. Even though it is much simpler for the incumbent president or rector to secure one.

Could your difficult relationship with heads of the ruling Reform Party become an obstacle here?

You will have to ask them. I see no difficult relationship. Regarding various remarks... God... When I served as auditor general... looking at everything the press reported following my first annual report and appearance in front of the parliament. Let's say I'm used to such things. Such remarks carry little emotional weight in politics, until it's time to make the decision.

I'm not looking for conflict, while conflict cannot always be avoided because things need to be said. There are times when you need to go into a conflict knowingly to resolve whatever is in the air.

So, you will not be holding back to secure a second term?

No, why should I? But the term in office of constitutional institutions, including that of the president, should be seven years. And there should be a single term. Five is a little too short, while ten would be too long. Seven is just right. That would take away the pressure of whether I would like to continue [for a second term] around year four. The person would then be preoccupied with their next term instead of their work.

But I do not see it becoming a problem in my case.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

Source: Pealtnägija

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