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The Riigikogu began its autumn session with an opening sitting that included speeches by the President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma and President Toomas Hendrik Ilves

Ergma first talked about issues surrounding the Estonian Constitution. She thanked the members of the Constitutional Assembly who created the Constitution that has served Estonia excellently. She added that nobody, including the authors of our Constitution, could probably have dreamt that 12 years later Estonia would accede to the European Union and therefore amending of the Constitution would be warranted. In the same way, they would not have been able to guess that in 2012 we would be facing a crisis of the financial system that requires a new approach and maybe also a new amendment of the Constitution. Ergma agreed with the experts who have said that if we want to preserve the Constitution as an authoritative and functioning fundamental document of the Estonian state, we must assess if the Constitution adequately reflects the reality of the national legislation today. The ‘It is our task, my dear colleagues, to try to follow these developments carefully and to discuss which solutions will guarantee the sustainability of the Constitution and the state that functions according to it, and the preservation of our fundamental values also for the next decades,’ the President of the Riigikogu affirmed. 

Ergma said that the society has high expectations for solutions in a number of issues. ‘Naturally the Riigikogu will continue the good practice of discussing important issues in this Hall. Be it public sector salaries, child benefits or education reforms. As usual, this autumn we will again discuss the budget for the next year. It is up to us, politicians, to use discussions for finding an optimal solution for utilising the limited resources of the state in the best way,’ the President of the Riigikogu said. She expressed her hope that everyone would do their best and work hard. 

President Ilves began his speech by stressing the importance of ratifying the Treaty Establishing the European Stability Mechanism in the Riigikogu. ‘You have thoroughly and substantially changed the document that initially came to you. You have cleared it of signs of bad legislative drafting, which has been my longstanding complaint to the parliament, shared by many in the legal profession,’ said the President. He stressed that no country can singlehandedly ensure a feeling of safety and welfare to their nation in the modern world. Not even the United States of America; or China, or Russia, or Germany. Like it or not, security and economic affairs are being decided by associations of countries. ‘Estonia has to make its choices in this world and at this time. We cannot change the general rules of the world, we cannot change our location, but we have the right of speech and the right to vote in this association of countries that we belong to,’ the President said. He asked rhetorically: could Estonia wall itself in, distance itself from Europe, without once again loosing its freedom in the process, without descending into destitution and a cultural space that is alien to us? ‘The answer is no. Estonia and other small countries face the best future within a strong Europe where the national identity of small countries is taken into account,’ Ilves emphasised. The European Union has been our goal for the past 20 years. This ideal – to get back to Europe, our historical home – spurred us into action for nearly 15 years, and made us build up our country in a way to make it fit into the European pattern. Ilves discussed problems that Europe is currently facing in more detail. 

The President extolled faith and trust as our most important values, our capital. ‘After all, we all see what happens in countries where the trust is lost. We must cherish this capital of trust in the face of all obstacles and temptations,’ Ilves said. He remarked that trust is a rare commodity in Europe at the moment. We therefore have to worry about things that seemed natural only yesterday. ‘But most of all, we must worry about our ability to keep Estonia in the best shape possible. On the right path, if I may. We must restore the trust as well and as quickly as we can; we must stop trying to overdo each other with underhanded methods, we must show the people the greatest respect and attention possible, find a way to support those in need and cement their trust in the future of Estonia as well,’ President Ilves declared. 

After the formal opening of the autumn session, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip answered two interpellations. These were the interpellation concerning the restitution of property to persons who resettled to Germany during the ownership reform (No. 167), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Heimar Lenk and Marika Tuus-Laul on 8 May, and the interpellation concerning the financial transaction tax (No. 174), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Inara Luigas, Rainer Vakra, Deniss Boroditš, Lembit Kaljuvee and Kalle Laanet on 31 May. 

Auditor General Mihkel Oviir did not have to answer to the interpellation concerning the Estonian Internet Foundation (No. 169), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Olga Sõtnik, Valeri Korb, Eldar Efendijev, Lauri Laasi, Tarmo Tamm, Enn Eesmaa and Viktor Vassiljev on 15 May, because the interpellators withdrew it from the proceeding. 

During the open microphone, Kalle Laanet took the floor. 

Photos from the opening sitting can be found at: http://fotoalbum.riigikogu.ee/v/2012/Riigikogu/IVistungjark/

The Riigikogu Press Service

 

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