TALLINN - The U.S. Embassy in Tallinn announced that it sent a letter to the Res Publica party addressing the party's controversial outdoor ads that depict the American president standing next to Prime Minister Juhan Parts.
The ads are part of Res Publica's campaign effort for the upcoming European Parliament elections, and the embassy's public affairs officer, Thomas Hodges, told the Baltic News Service that the president and the U.S. government do not take sides in the domestic political contests of sovereign democratic nations.
The official refused to divulge the exact contents of the letter.
One of the ads features U.S. President George W. Bush exclaiming "Oh, heaven, look how high those taxes are!" and Res Publica Chairman Parts responding, "The socialists have gone completely crazy... That's terrible!" (See photo.)
The ads, however, do not limit themselves to the American president.
Another - under the slogan "We will break through!" - features Parts with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, Portugese President Jorge Sampaio and other prominent politicians.
On the photo with Schroeder, Parts reminds the German Chancellor that "a billion goes with nine zeros, verstehen?"
A spokesman from the Irish Embassy said last week that officials there had seen the ads but did not intend to do anything about them.
It was not the first time Res Publica hit the news with its controversial advertising campaign visuals. Preceding the 2003 parliamentary elections, Res Publica elicited ethical concern when it used outdoor ads that referred to the coalition of the Center Party and the Reform Party in Tallinn City Council, thus referring to the reformists' political flexibility.
Representatives of Res Publica said that since political propaganda did not fall under Estonian advertising regulations, there was no obligation to ask for permissions from the persons used in the campaign.
Many expressed dismay. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, an MP of the Social Democrats, said that Res Publica was still full of surprises.
"Only a total rookie in foreign policy would use leading politicians from Estonia's friendly and partnering states in election posters with a negative shade," he said.