Reform Party presidential candidate says he had to meet Edgar Savisaar because leaving the Centre chairman out of the election process he would fail to succeed anyway.
-You have been great demand, lately, Interviews left and right, and all sorts of speaking engagements. Hard disk empty by evening?
I’m managing, but the volumes are indeed high. Tiring of course, but I would not say the hard disk gets empty. It cannot.
-Never felt like stepping off and live a quiet life?
No and not going to.
-So confident? The current President has shown signs of tiredness during second term, at times.
That’s the second term. God forbid, that’s a long way off. I do not intend to have second term, enough of these five. Here you have your news.
-Thanks. But why just one term?
I think this is a long time and others must be given their opportunities. While in European Commission, President Jose Manuel Barroso said he was intending to continue second term and asked if I was willing to stay on the same vice presidential post. I agreed but then he decided that nobody would continue on the same post as before. Afterwards, I thought that had I stayed on the same post it would so have exhausted itself that there would have been no freshness left. I am so satisfied that my second term was already in the area of transport.
-As you set yourself up, you said that arriving at a bridge one must cross over. How long were you eyeing the bridge?
That is a wording for the political logic to keep going once you have opted for some path or policy. I always have the opportunity to quit but at the moment I am of the opinion that I will not quit. /.../
-Seems to me you actually knew quite well, ten years back, that this summer you may run for President.
Some people plan their political future very long in advance, but these usually fail. I cannot say I have planned this long in advance.
-What is your plan B if not becoming President?
Let’s take one thing at a time. The variants are many. Perhaps, then, I will enjoy holding lectures at universities... but I do not have a plan. At the moment, the focus is on the presidential elections. And based o experience I say that once this is over, the political situation has changed and in that situation one needs to see what the variants are if one wants to remain in politics.
-This is very interesting, to the backdrop of the talk that Mr Kallas wants to create a new party.
This is still speculation.
-Feels like a large part of Reform is supportive of you. Meanwhile, the confusing messages by party leaders show the support is not overly strong. Whose candidate are you?
I will have these 30 votes and this is the decision by the party board. Today I am the presidential candidate of this party. All the rest is speculations and regarding all doubts you must ask the doubters themselves.
-You have said that in the end those with most votes behind them will be making deals on the day of the election. Therefore, I do not understand why you went to Edgar Savisaar who does not seem to have too many votes behind him.
We may have all kinds of imaginations of people and their relations, but Edgar Savisaar is the chairman of Centre Party. Like with him, I have talked about this with the chairmen of all important parties. I have also talked with the [Centre parliamentary] faction head Kadri Simson – I need the votes of them all.
Had I left the chairman out, nothing would come of it anyway. He has quite a strong body of supporters, see. Such a move is correct and politically logical. I work with these people on these posts. Not my business to intervene in internal matters of these parties.
-What did you talk about, with him?
Naturally, my question was if there was a chance to get their support, and the answer was no – they have fixed their position. And that was all. And he had no mandate to say anything more as things have developed quite far already. Clearly, I had to pay that visit – otherwise, it would be altogether impossible to do business with that party.
-Was it the same Edgar Savisaar you held coalition talks with at the beginning of 2000ies?
The man has had a serious surgery but the conversation was adequate. I would not say he has lost any of his sharpness of mind.
1966–1969 Budget and Finance, University of Tartu, B.Sc.
1969–1972 Junior Sergeant, Soviet Armed Forces Corps of Signals.
1972–1974 Economics of environmental protection, University of Tartu, M.Sc.
1974-1977 Economics of environmental protection, University of Tartu, Kandidat Nauk (PhD).
1969-1972: Signals officer in Soviet Army
1975–1979: Specialist at the Finance Ministry Planning Committee of the Estonian SSR
1979–1986: Joint Secretary of the Central Authority of the Savings Banks of the Estonian SSR.
1986–1989: Deputy chief editor of the Communist Party of Estonia newspaper Rahva Hääl
1989–1991: Chairman of the Central Union of the Estonian Trade Unions
1989–1991: Member of the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union
1991–1995: President of the Bank of Estonia
1995–2004: Member of the Parliament of the Republic of Estonia
1995–1996: Minister of Foreign Affairs
1996: Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
1999–2002: Minister of Finance
2002–2003: Prime minister
2004–2004: EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, serving with Joaquín Almunia
2004–2010: EU Commissioner for Administrative Affairs, Audit and Anti-Fraud and Vice-president of the Commission
2010–2014: EU Commissioner for Transport and Vice-president of the Commission