The reluctant president

  • 2011-02-02
  • From wire reports

TALLINN - The Estonian daily Postimees on Jan. 28 revealed excerpts of materials it says were published by Wikileaks that indicate that Estonia’s President Toomas Hendrik Ilves ran for the post in 2006 because of his disdain towards the then-president Arnold Ruutel, reports news agency LETA. “I think you want to know why I want that job. Well, I don’t want it,” a report signed by the then-U.S. Ambassador to Estonia, Aldona Wos, cites the then-European parliament foreign committee deputy chairman Ilves saying at a meeting in June 2006, around 100 days before he became Estonian president.

“Ilves claimed that he is not interested in committing for a third time to a life resembling poverty in the name of his country, especially for a job that has as little power as the Estonian president does,” the same source states, indicating that the two first times were when Ilves gave away the post of Radio Free Europe Estonian staff head to become Estonia’s Ambassador to the U.S., and then when he agreed to become foreign minister.

The compilers of the American diplomatic report answered the question why Ilves would be running for presidency then that he disdains the current president Arnold Ruutel and believes he is the only one who has a chance to beat him. “Ilves explained that he had to compete, since he couldn’t tolerate the prospect: five more years with Ruutel and his ‘kolkhoz chairman’ way of thinking.”

Ilves also describes in the leaked reports Center Party chairman Edgar Savisaar as an untrustworthy cheap populist, “the Estonian Hugo Chavez.” He pointed out that the then-economy minister Savisaar constantly met with Russian officials during his visits to Russia and took no one from the Estonian embassy to these meetings, thus Estonian government members never knew what Savisaar discussed with his Russian colleagues.

President Ilves said in a comment to Postimees about these materials that these memos include just some bits and pieces from long conversations that took place years ago, and the memos do not reflect the rest of these conversations nor circumstances around them, and thus they are the creation and interpretation of those compiling the memos. “I do not consider it right to comment upon memos stolen from diplomats of other states,” Ilves said.