TALLINN - In a Jan. 24 meeting in Tallinn, the Reform Party's council stated that the constitution required changes in connection with the country's upcoming accession to the European Union. The reformists' faction in the Estonian Parliament said that it would work out the main parts of the constitution that need updating and prepare an official bill.
In a Jan. 24 meeting in Tallinn, the Reform Party's council stated that the constitution required changes in connection with the country's upcoming accession to the European Union. The reformists' faction in the Estonian Parliament said that it would work out the main parts of the constitution that need updating and prepare an official bill.
The Reform Party said it hoped that other parties represented in the Parliament would participate in the development of an updated constitution.
Mart Rask, the former justice minister and MP of the Reform Party who heads the working group behind the project, said that changing the country's basic law in a step-by-step process would be unreasonable and that the changes should be made faster.
"Judging from the people's decision to join the European Union, we have to further develop our statehood," Rask said at the meeting of the Reform Party council.
A revised constitution, based on the present version approved by referendum in 1992, would simplify the organization of the government and make it cheaper to run, according to Rask.
He mentioned a few clauses of the current constitution that would require changes. For example, the Bank of Estonia is mentioned as the body that distributes the Estonian national currency, the kroon, but in three or four years the country's money will be replaced by the euro.
After EU accession the Estonian government will not only rule within its borders but will also have a say in Brussels, and that, Rask stressed, also needs to be mentioned in the renewed constitution.
The principle of collective security provided by NATO and the EU also calls for constitutional changes, he added.
Rask said that the constitution could be changed in three years at the earliest and that Estonia would follow its democratic tradition of being a parliamentary republic.
MP Siiri Oviir, one of the key members of the Center Party, criticized the Reform-sponsored constitution amendment idea.
"In politics decisions are often based on the 'look-at-me' principle," said Oviir, who was in the government in the times of the Constitutional Assembly that developed the Estonian constitution after the country regained independence.
"There is no need to create a new constitution in connection with the EU accession, and we neither have to change the government regulation," said Oviir referring to the last year's idea of the Reform Party to unite the posts of the president and prime minister.
Estonia is to hold a referendum on direct presidential elections - one of the ruling coalition's major reforms - later this year. The referendum is necessary because the current presidential vote procedures are written in the constitution.