TALLINN – Social Democrat and former Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves was appointed deputy chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament on Thursday.
Ilves, nominated by the Party of European Socialists, was chosen by unanimous acclamation after Elmar Brock, a German MEP from the People's Party, was selected as committee chairman.
The appointment will bring prestige and exposure for Estonia, where many voters were sure than the country's six MEPs would be left out. Ilves' job will give him a powerful voice in formulating the EU's common foreign policy.
"That includes the EU's foreign political relations with Russia," Ilves said. "I believe that we can make adjustments to overcome this shortcoming, so that the EU's foreign policy line in regard to Russia would be less naive and more critical,"
Chairman of the Estonian Social Democratic Party Ivari Padar saluted the news.
"I hope that Europarliament Russia-policy, too, will become a lot more adequate from now on than it is at this point," Padar said. Padar said Ilves' position was made stronger by both his being broadly known among European decision makers.
Ilves won more than 76,000 votes in the June 13 Europarliament elections.