President attends Riigikogu oath ceremony wearing 'speech is free' slogan

New coalition takes Riigikogu oath.
New coalition takes Riigikogu oath. Source: Aurelia Minev/ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid made a sartorial statement at the Riigikogu swearing-in of the incoming coalition government, Monday afternoon.

The head of state chose to wear a sweatshirt emblazoned with the slogan ''Sõna on vaba'', ERR's online Estonia news reports, which would translate as either ''speech is free'' or, even more literally, ''the word is free'' – an obvious statement of the importance of freedom of speech and coming on the back of weeks of controversy surrounding the actions of one of the coalition parties, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE).

In a speech at a special Riigikogu sitting marking its 100th anniversary last week, President Kaljulaid noted that personal freedoms, including a free press, freedom of expression and freedom of enterprise, were what was most important in Estonia and only when those freedoms are a fact will people choose to come to Estonia, rather than leave.

President Kaljulaid at the Riigikogu coalition swearing-in ceremony. She also wears a Blue Hepatica, symbol of the Anname Au Estonian veterans' charity. Autor: Aurelia Minev/ERR

EKRE leader Mart Helme had called for a ''sense of responsibility'' in the media, at the signing-in of the coalition last Wednesday, interpreted in some quarters as the beginning of a slippery slope towards curbing press freedoms. EKRE deputy-chair, son of Mart and incoming finance minister, Martin Helme, had previously called for unnamed journalists at public broadcaster ERR to be removed from the air for displaying ''bias'', and veteran political journalist Ahto Lobjakas announced his stepping down from his role presenting weekly politics show Olukorrast riigis, in preference to having to exercise self-censorship, late last week.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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