Karis: I wish to be a balancer and conciliator if necessary as president

In his first speech to the Riigikogu, President Alar Karis said that an intelligent people had been one of his ideals before he became president. PHOTO: Tairo Lutter

In his first speech to the Riigikogu, President Alar Karis said that an intelligent people had been one of his ideals before he became president.

“I also specified that the measure of intelligence and scholarship is not the number of degrees issued, but the ability to utilize knowledge and get by; to cope with any situation. It’s what’s known as learning ability.” Karis also emphasized that above all, he wishes to be a balancer and, if necessary, a conciliator in society.

“Intelligence is a collective achievement”

Karis said that intelligence is a collective achievement. “An intelligent nation does not let hope be lost. It does not toe the line. It observes and experiments, is confident and unafraid to make mistakes. An intelligent nation thinks in limitless perspective and does not fear encountering the unknown, be it the pandemic or global climate crisis. An intelligent nation empathizes with their neighbor and has compassion.”

He also said that Estonia’s success story has not reached everyone. “And I wish, somewhat idealistically, for none of our fellow citizens to feel abandoned or unwanted,” Karis said.

“Close ties must be fostered with each of our allies; they are not formed or maintained automatically”

“I am confident that we have chosen the right path in developing our defenses,” Karis said as the head of military national defense. “In difficult situations, Estonia does not have to seek solutions all on its own – allies stand steadfast by our side. Close ties must be fostered with each of our allies; they are not formed or maintained automatically.”

The president said the Estonian Defense Forces plays a strong pedagogical role for young people that has provided an entire generation with fortitude, a sense of duty and Estonian proficiency. “With such an attitude, we can look in dignity upon all those who came before us, who fell on the battlefield, who endured extreme scarcity, or who were made to endure terror and humiliation. They were deprived of vital symbols that for decades persisted only in dreams and outside of Estonia,” he said. “So it is that on certain notable occasions, it is fitting to enjoy proud and stately fanfare, buttons polished to a shine, and the serenity of our national holidays.”

“We know what we need: a strong, unified Europe and ironclad trans-Atlantic cooperation”

The president said that not all dissent is conspicuous. “Heated opposition may be brazen and imperious; where democratic states number fewer than authoritarian regimes; where the sparring of world powers has shifted from Europe to the Pacific Ocean; and where Europe itself sometimes argues over what direction to take,” he said, adding: “This does not cause the course of Estonia’s foreign affairs or our policy compass to waver or stall. We know what we need: a strong, unified Europe and ironclad trans-Atlantic cooperation.”

Karis emphasized that Estonia values relations and channels of communication with all neighbors close and distant. “Today’s war is not sparked by artillery fire. Hybrid conflicts, aggression in cyberspace, and the intentional creation of societal rifts are the new battlegrounds and frontlines. Therefore, alongside armaments, Estonia’s fate can be determined by its positive reputation in the world, our social cohesiveness and trust between people and the state. Today, national defence begins with guaranteeing social viability; with knowing that everyone is prepared to do their part.”

Preamble of the coalition “genetic code of the Estonian state”

The president said that words are imperative tools in his work. “As is the ability to patiently listen and attentively take note.”

Karis described the parliament as an assembly also of consensus and compromise, as well as oppositions. “At the same time, one should be concerned when legislators do not hear or listen to one another, when doors are slammed, when words turn to noise, when votes lack substance, and the natural framework of politics is thereby torn. When this happens, the words spoken here are meaningless, excessive, or meant simply to provoke, amass, and bury what truly matters,” Karis said. “What I do hope to see more of, however, are debates and discussions in the Riigikogu and Estonian society; the defense of one’s own standpoints and hearing out of others’,” he added.

Karis to discuss plans for overcoming pandemic with advisory council and health minister

“How can we find peace of mind when our struggle with the pandemic has turned out to be an exhausting 50-kilometre trek instead of the sprint for which we’d hoped? When there’s rising sentiment that evidence-based medicine is advancing at a timid crawl in the crisis, and the decisions that affect people’s everyday lives seem like arbitrary spasms? For the justification of those decisions has been ineffectual,” Karis asked.

The president stressed that he has faith in science and the scientific approach “If someone who has so far refused to get vaccinated and is unsure were to ask for my advice, then I’d naturally advise them to reconsider and allow themselves and their loved ones to receive the vaccine.”

“In the coming days, I will meet with the scientific advisory board that has been counselling the government, as well as with the ministers for health and labour, to get the broadest picture I can of how far we’ve come on our long encounter with the unknown, as well as what might be the best solutions for our future. In these meetings, I will be a constructive, and a demanding, partner,” the president promised.

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