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President: Estonia's secularism is best protection against foreign religions

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PHOTO: Mihkel Maripuu

Estonia's secularism is the best protection against foreign religions, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said in a year-end interview to the public broadcaster ERR.

"We have a secular state and there is no state church. It seems to me that this is our best protection from foreign religions. We have no obligation to accept the customs connected to their religions when our hospitals and schools are secular and make no special steps, special bows for no religion," the president said.

The head of state discussed many issues in the interview, including domestic violence, work, forests, religion, the railway and Russia.

"We have to connect ourselves to Europe. Irrevocably. Through infrastructure, via energy networks. The fact that we belong to Europe is a vital question," Kaljulaid said, adding that stronger ties are needed and therefore Rail Baltic should be built. "We are witnessing how now, when the project is reaching the construction phase, the Finnish are starting to show more and more interest in it -- the tunnel speak has become very loud -- and the Polish are also coming around. This will be an important thing for us," she added.

Kaljulaid said that the European Union can handle its crises.

"When bomb explosions and terrorist attacks are happening, we have to be sympathetic and stick together. But when thinking about the future of the European Union, then the EU's past is what gives me the confidence to say that the EU will always handle these crises. Yes, it might look ugly at times and it might take some time until it is agreed on what to do next, but such an agreement is always reached," the president said.

"And speaking about terror -- the European Union has decided that external borders have to be checked and databases have to be joined together so that everyone knows who is in and who is out. Looking back it can be said that it might have been better if such databases were completed before the Schengen Area opened, but it is now clear that these things will be completed," Kaljulaid added.

ERR asked the president if it would be possible to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia in 2018. "I do not know what Moscow's foreign policy will be like then. At the moment we see that Russia is a country who is willing to solve differences using weapons and by changing state borders. I wouldn't invite the president of such Russia to Estonia's anniversary," Kaljulaid said.

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