Decathlon star may lead Pro Patria to EP

  • 2004-02-26
  • By Aleksei Gunter
TALLINN - Olympic decathlon champion Erki Nool will try to outrun his new competitors in European Parliament elections as the Pro Patria Union political party approved him as its number one candidate at its congress held in Tallinn Feb. 20-21.

Nool's first address to his supporters at the congress criticized the tendency of civil servants to announce their party affiliation after securing their posts and claimed that Estonia's foreign policy brashly opposes recommendations from the EU.
Supporting the idea of accession, Nool said that in his opinion it was not necessary to join the EU if Estonia's national interests, as the ruling coalition presumes, were above the common rules valid for all the member states.
"One could quietly keep crouching here in the corner of the Baltic Sea saying 'no' to everything," Nool said.
Nool, 33, joined the Pro Patria Union in November 2003 and has recently become involved in politicized affairs, such as the no-confidence vote against the management of the Estonian Athletics Union. He has said the coming Athens Olympics would be his last.
The party's official statement approved at the congress did not contain any concrete points but rather was focused on the reproaches to the current ruling coalition led by Res Publica, such as a lack of dialogue between the authorities and the common people and concerns about the citizenship policy changes.
The party, however, issued a separate statement supporting the Latvian education reform that foresees at least a 60 percent share of classes in Latvian in the schools with Russian as the language of instruction. In the late 1990s Pro Patria Union was one of the initiators of the high-school reform that would have resulted in a total switch to the Estonian language in ethnic Russian high schools by 2007. The previous two Cabinets, however, approved a more gradual shift.