Max Kaur is a well-known public figure in Estonia. He is a politician; a deputy on the Tallinn City Council, as well as the founder and leader of the Estonian social movement that is against gambling. Kaur is also the first in the EU to establish the public protest called the ‘Anti-Casino’ movement. Thanks to Kaur’s efforts, the new Gambling Act entered into force on January 1, 2009, in Estonia, which regulates the organization and state supervision of gambling in the country and on ships sailing under the Estonian flag. After winning the Tallinn City Council election for deputy, Kaur was also elected as the vice-president of the Legal Commission of the Tallinn City Council, and appointed a member of the Financial Commission of the Tallinn City Council.
Kaur is a man of many accomplishments. Besides being a politician, he is a lawyer and an economist. Kaur is involved in the educational sphere; he is vice-chancellor of the University of Economics and Management in Tallinn ‘Ecomen.’ From 2002-2005 Kaur was a political advisor to the current mayor of Tallinn, Edgar Savisaar. Kaur is a former vice-mayor of the city of Maardu. He is also a member of the Russian Academic Society in Estonia. Kaur is currently working on his doctorate degree at one of the leading universities in St. Petersburg.
The integration process of the Russian-speaking population in Estonia is important for Kaur. He has organized a club called the Round Table for Russian-speaking young politicians from different parties.
Max Kaur sat down with The Baltic Times to discuss his latest achievements with the readers.
You are actively involved in charity activities.
Yes, that’s true. Last year I took part in a charity event... I love animals and it’s a pleasure for me to defend them. The exhibition was a charity drive to support animal shelters in Estonia. Afterwards, the photos were sold in an online auction where all the collected money was officially sent to the animal shelters. The exhibition was launched by the well-known Estonian photographer Indrek Galetin, and the exhibition was called ‘Amour - Lemmikloomade eri’ (Special Love for Animals), a high profile photo exhibition featuring some of the most prominent Estonian celebrities. The photos were of nude celebrities cuddling up with strange and exotic animals, reptiles and spiders. And this year is not an exception; I have got an offer to take part in a charity event this year as well, but this time the exhibition will be dedicated to birds only.
As an economist, what are your predictions for the future of Estonia’s economy?
According to the statistics, Estonia has been one of the fastest growing economies in Europe since the beginning of this year. This is natural, as Estonia is a small country with a small economy; that is why it is growing more rapidly than other countries. Of course, we have had serious economic problems, but these days we already see positive results. I believe that, due to investments, Estonia will be able to show great results in the economy in the near future. And due to our wise and intelligent officials we will be able to get over all of these difficulties. Of course, we have high unemployment, but during the past few weeks the unemployment board has announced that there aren’t any new, unemployed [people] registered, which is already a good start. The unemployment rate is not rising, though it is not decreasing yet. We faced the first crisis in the [early] ‘90s; the second was from ’97 – ’98, and now we have this global economic crisis as well, so I can say that each time Estonia survives an economic crisis, its economy becomes stronger and stronger. We should always compare our economy with the economy of other countries.
And the most important thing is that despite the economic crisis, the Center Party’s popularity keeps on rising, which seems strange or impossible for Western countries.
I am more than sure that Estonia’s economic stability impacts positively the whole of Europe’s economy. We have a caring and hardworking government which is very responsible for its country, and due to this we are surviving the crisis successfully.
Is Estonia ready to adopt the euro?
Of course, some are surprised, some are shocked that in this difficult economic situation Estonia is adopting the euro, which is not an easy task for Estonia, but now [we] are ready. We have worked hard for this and today we can say that, after much effort, we are able to fulfill all the criteria. In difficult times Estonia has shown remarkable strength in cooperation and budget consolidation. Moreover, after adopting the euro, the rate of exchange will not be changed, that’s to say it will stay the same. All the parties in Estonia are for euro adoption, and the Center Party has even cut its budget for the sake of euro adoption. We have already started giving consultations to big businesses and companies in preparing them how to act when Estonia joins the eurozone. I already see a recovery in the Estonian economy and I am very optimistic in my predictions; I see a great future for Estonia, with a strong economy like the one we had before the economic crisis. Due to our experienced specialists and strong government, Estonia can achieve success.
What do you think is the key to success?
First of all, I consider that one should be a professional in his sphere; another not less important feature is that one should be a patriot. As for me, I am a patriot of my country.
What is it like to be a politician? What do you think are the important features of one’s character as a politician, and what should a politician have in order to be successful?
One should be ready to take up new challenges. Being a politician is not as easy a task as it seems. To be a politician means to sacrifice your personal life for your work. Edgar Savisaar, my party leader and my teacher as I call him, once told me ‘A good politician should always be ready to take responsibility to become a minister or become the leader of the government and, at the same time, he should be ready at any moment to resign.’ A politician should always keep in mind that he makes decisions which can impact people’s lives, so he should be an extremely responsible person. And of course a politician should first of all be fair. I think that Estonia is a country that has responsible politicians. In many countries the situation is quite different; due to our responsible politicians our country didn’t go bankrupt, such as Greece or Iceland. These countries went bankrupt due to irresponsible politicians; unfortunately this is a reality.
Do you have any hobbies? How do you spend your free time?
I have a new hobby; I play golf, and golf is becoming more and more popular in Estonia. My friends, politicians also spend their free time playing golf. I also have my blog on the Internet, in two languages, both in Russian and Estonian, which I update very often with some discussions on interesting topics; actually, it has become more than a hobby for me.
Is it true that you have agreed to become a social adviser to developing computer games carried out by Fox3D Studios and Apple?
Yes, that is really true. I have agreed to become the social adviser of one of the leading developers of computer games in Europe, Fox3D Studios, which is going to release its joint project with Apple for its new generation which will be available for all the owners of the iPhone, iPod touchscreen and the newest invention from Apple, the iPad. In the world of computer games, for achieving the best results, it is accepted to involve advisers from among public figures, politicians. This is especially practiced in the U.S. I am sure that the project will be a successful one, not only in the Unites States but in Estonia and all of Europe as well. For any intellectual person, especially the one who is involved in public life, to be engaged in such innovative projects means a lot of trust. I hope that these innovation games will become intellectual entertainment, such as playing chess, going to the theater or cinema. And the most important thing I would like to point out is that the money collected from the project will go to charity.
What are your short as well as long-term plans?
In the near future I am going to write a book, that’s to say a collection of memories, especially of the years when I worked with Edgar Savisaar, where I have collected a lot of impressions and unforgettable memories for me which I would like to share with people. And finally, the most important thing for a politician are elections; I am going to take part in the parliamentary elections which will take place on March 6, 2011. Another not less important thing to mention is to get ready with the preparations for the event when Tallinn will be the Culture Capital of Europe 2011, where we will carry out many exciting events; it’s is very important to us to organize it at the highest level.