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President of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas and President of the Republic Kersti Kaljulaid delivered speeches at the festive opening of the Riigikogu autumn session.

Põlluaas spoke about the adoption of the first Constitution of the Republic of Estonia one hundred years ago, and the challenges faced by democratic countries, the foreign and security policy and the activities of the Riigikogu in connection with the corona crisis.

Põlluaas pointed out that the COVID-19 situation was not likely to end in the nearest future, and its course was unpredictable. “Therefore we need to do everything to minimise risks to human life and health, and to ensure the functioning and recovery of society and economy. For that, we have adopted a number of important measures that have justified themselves, but we cannot sit back,” Põlluaas said. “As we have seen in the case of COVID-19, it is often vitally important to include urgent issues in the agenda at once and to solve them. However, things must not be over-dramatised. A balanced approach is needed,” the President of the Riigikogu emphasised.

Põlluaas underlined that we were global pioneers in providing digital services, but we needed a fundamental and comprehensive discussion on the relations between technology and politics, as well as technology and the parliament.

“This spring, we amended the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act so that in a crisis situation, where the parliament cannot convene physically, it would be possible to hold plenary sittings electronically. We have been developing a relevant platform for the whole summer and it is already in the testing stage. Only a few parliaments in the world have such a possibility of electronic sittings, and I dare affirm that ours is a cut above all of them. In the near future we will all have a chance to test it,” Põlluaas said.

Speaking of the tasks faced by the Members of the Riigikogu, Põlluaas noted: “Although we may have different approaches to problems, we definitely share the common opinion that the state must always try to improve the life of the people of Estonia. If we have good will and sufficient readiness to cooperate, we can do it.”

Kaljulaid spoke about Estonia’s long-term development issues, development of economy, personal freedoms and universal rights, problems relating to the administrative reform, strengthening the role of local governments and resolving the challenges faced by the Riigikogu.

Kaljulaid said, “These long-term developmental risks must be mitigated with smart leadership. That work can be done in this very hall.”

“And then, we have the pandemic. Fighting the virus means that our ordinary rights may be restricted in the name of a certain greater societal benefit – preventing fatalities. But these restrictions must be proportional and applied uniformly,” the President of the Republic said.

“I would be proud of the Riigikogu if this year’s debates were to show our people that you truly care about their rights, freedoms, future, and also their wish to make local communities the kind of Estonia that the people who live there themselves desire,” Kaljulaid emphasised.

“I would be proud of the Riigikogu if, in this season, parallel to the heated debate over freedoms and interpretation of the Constitution, you were to finally begin drafting laws that will give us a green Estonia, a monolingual school system, and legislation that is as permissive as possible in regard to new technologies founded on data use,” the President added.

“Let’s make it so that the rest of the world isn’t a step ahead of us, but vice-versa,” Kaljulaid said. The President of the Republic wished the Riigikogu all the strength.

The songs performed by the chamber choir Collegium Musicale, conducted by Endrik Üksvärav, created a festive atmosphere at the opening sitting.

Text of the speech by the President of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas:

During the open microphone, Kalle Grünthal, Peeter Ernits and Urmas Espenberg took the floor.

Photos of the sitting (Author: Erik Peinar, Riigikogu)

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian):

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu.

(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service
Gunnar Paal,
+372 631 6351, +372 5190 2837
[email protected]