Kaljulaid: You are not only legislators but wardens of the rule of law

President Kersti Kaljulaid at the opening of the new Riigikogu session. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid stressed the important role of the parliament as the warden of the rule of law at the opening session of the Riigikogu on Monday.

Kaljulaid also reminded the members of the parliament of their role as the wardens of the rule of law and the creators of the future of all Estonians: "You are the wardens of the rule of law – this is a bigger responsibility than simply being a legislator. You cannot escape this duty or hide behind a group identity or your political affiliation. Do your decisions address questions important in society? I believe they do. Can the Estonian people continue to trust their constitution and the promises secured by law, even if they are long term? I believe they can. You can bring hope and security, but you can also bring cynicism and the belief that every one of us, including those in this hall, only stand for their own interests or those of a small circle of people. I at least hope caring and benevolence win. I believe it will win, because it is all up to you, dear Riigikogu."

Kaljulaid's speech also drew the attention of the members of the parliament to the challenges in the energy sector, the ageing e-state, and comprehensive schooling.

"We face important questions and many threads—pulling on them can lead to new opportunities but also to worries and painful questions", she said. "However even those have great potential – if we are not afraid and will start to untangle them now, they might turn out to be roads to success, rather than ways to patch up issues and alleviate troubles."

"You in this hall are the ones who are directly responsible for making sure these questions get answered. You are free in your decisions but not completely, according to the constitution, you must keep in mind the expectations of all people in Estonia, rather than those of your voters," Kaljulaid said to the sitting members of parliament.

 The Head of State stressed oil shale as one of the most important threads. "It is obvious that one sector will soon break into two – the paths of oil shale and energy production will diverge. In a similar manner, we must be able to look at energy production separately from the social problems people in oil shale mining potentially face and how to solve them. Energy production must become green, and oil shale must be put on hold until a more sustainable application is found for it," president Kaljulaid said.

Kaljulaid said she believes it would be wise to create an open and permissive legal space, which guarantees the development of a flexible energy production and retention system.

Speaking of the Estonian e-state the president stressed that the core of the ageing e-state needs extra funds even for retaining the current level but the country must also seriously prepare for new technologies.

"We must prepare for the moment when quantum computers render today's identification methods inadequate. We must think about how will have fast access to new identification models that are also possible with our budget. Fortunately, here these solutions are already being developed in the private sector. Much before that moment, we must make the consumption of public services more convenient by finding resources to amend obsolete user interfaces, to maintain necessary cyber security, to make inter-system info exchange more efficient and thus guarantee that the once-only principle is being followed consistently."

A third challenge Kaljulaid pointed to was the comprehensive school system, which is beginning to show signs of stratification: "We must react quickly to make sure that any child from any Estonian school can one day go to the University of Tartu and other great higher education institutions, regardless of their parents' income or residence. This is our nation's wealth, and it cannot be lost. It guarantees social mobility and is the most important element of social cohesion in the future for which we can take responsibility today," she said.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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