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Ilves meets with Estonian Center Party

Jul 28, 2006
By TBT staff

TALLINN - MEP Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Estonian presidential candidate, answered matter-of-factly all the questions put to him at a meeting with the board of the Center Party on July 27, and also Ilves' position on the relocation of a controversial Red Army monument in Tallinn was to Centrist leaders' liking, a member of the party board said.

However, the Centrist board is not going to make a decision on whether or not to back Ilves as a common presidential candidate of five parties before Monday's meeting with the other potential candidate, Ene Ergma, Ain Seppik told BNS.
According to Seppik, board members were interested in Ilves' views on domestic and foreign policy, and also the citizenship policy, relations with neighbors, the past, and privatization problems were under discussion.

"Ilves answered (our questions) correctly and matter-of-factly," Seppik said. "Another thing we liked was that Ilves absolutely did not share Prime Minister (Andrus) Ansip's view that the monument at Tonismagi should be removed at once."
Centrist leaders have more than once said the party will back a presidential candidate who is acceptable to Center's electorate and who represents either a centrist or center-left world outlook.

In Seppik's words, people's worldview is rather difficult to gauge but on the whole Ilves' answers to board members' questions did not leave a very rightist impression. "But he has expressed also different views in the press," he observed.
On the basis of today's meeting it can also be said that leading Centrist politicians will as a result of the face-to-face talk have more respect and understanding for Ilves, Seppik added.

Besides Ilves, Deputy Speaker of the parliament Ene Ergma from the Res Publica party remains on a shortlist of the five parties searching for a common candidate to get the next Estonian president elected in a parliamentary vote. The Centrist leaders are going to meet with Ergma on Monday.

Ruling coalition members Reform Party and Center Party, as well as the opposition Pro Patria Union, Res Publica and Social Democratic Party, which started their quest for a common presidential candidate in the spring, shortlisted Ergma and Ilves a week ago as Tartu University rector Jaak Aaviksoo and the businessman Jaan Manitski were dropped from the list. If the parties' cooperation remains fruitful till the very end a joint presidential candidate should be named on Aug. 3.
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