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Toomas Hendrik Ilves took the oath of office of the President of the Republic at the beginning of the sitting of the Riigikogu. 

In his inauguration speech President Ilves said: “Upon assuming the leadership of this independent, self-governing and economically successful state, I repeat our main task: five years from now we have to be able to hand over an Estonia, where activities are directed by citizens, not by a small group of people. The state is not a club of politicians where a membership card is required. A democratic state is to be shaped by its citizens and we all have the responsibility to participate. Those are the foundations we must remain true to. 

The President of the Republic stressed that the Estonian people must feel that Estonia cares for them, that they live in a state where they are taken care of. “If we want our country to assume a high position in the European rankings of economic growth and welfare, and not in those of suicide and depression, then we have to care,” Mr. Ilves said. 

In the opinion of the President, the Estonian people must understand that the state is theirs. It is that they can look at the world and come to the conclusion that Estonia is small, but at the same time much bigger than might be assumed by its population. 

In the words of Mr. Ilves, Estonia has proved that it copes. The journey to the European Union and NATO, as well as the Tiger Leap would have remained only nice plans, if we had not pulled ourselves together and acted in cohesion. 

The President of the Republic said: “We are also able to reach new targets. My predecessors, President Lennart Meri and President Arnold Rüütel, whose work I recognise and value, quoted on the same rostrum, in their inauguration speeches, a line from the Manifest of Independence: Estonia, you are standing at the threshold of a hopeful future!” 

Mr. Ilves stated that the Estonian people had shaped their future and stepped over the threshold. “Therefore I start my term of office with an appeal to all my compatriots: This is your state, and its future lies in your hands. Only you are privileged and at the same time obliged to decide how to move forward and what kind of Estonia will we leave to our children,” President Toomas Hendrik Ilves stated in his inauguration speech in the Riigikogu.  

President Arnold Rüütel also addressed the Riigikogu: “Speaking before you previously, I have always stressed the need to strengthen the spirit of cooperation and common liability. I would like to wish it for all of us also in the future. Once more I take the opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the Estonian people for all its achievements. This is the nation who, through safeguarding fundamental values values, survived the years of the loss of sovereignty, who bore the burdens of the transition period, and who wishes to be successful in the world today. My respect and my love belong to this nation.” 

Turning to the new President, Arnold Rüütel said: “I wish you the will and strength in serving our people, in enhancing the achievements of Estonia in the rapidly changing world, which presents complex options and challenges. I wish and hope that your activities will be accompanied by the trust and support of the people. I have had the good fortune to experience it. Thank you and I wish happiness to all of you !” 

The Riigikogu Press Service