The 4th session of the 11th Riigikogu opened with speeches by the President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma and the President of the Republic Toomas-Hendrik Ilves.
In her speech, Ergma stressed that the working session of the Parliament that was opened today was going to require serious work. The problems caused by the cooling of the Estonian economy and the intensification of the international situation as a result of the Russian-Georgian conflict force us to make decisions, some of which are rather painful. The President of the Riigikogu called on all Committees to be active because it was time to prepare decisions that would be necessary for our state in 10 and 15 years. “I hope that the proposal of the Economic Affairs Committee to discuss the developing of business environment as an issue of national importance will soon be carried out in this hall,” said Ergma. “One of the most important issues where we need clarity and decisions is energy, and this discussion must take place here, in the Plenary Hall of the Riigikogu, in the nearest future. In the situation where Russia is using energy supply as a political weapon, it is natural to discuss all possibilities, including the founding of a nuclear power station in Estonia,” explained Ergma.
The President of the Riigikogu pointed out the major Bills to be deliberated: “Very soon we will start legislative proceeding of the Employment Contracts Bill. It is not an exaggeration to say that this Act will concern the majority of the people of Estonia. A law that favours flexible labour market cannot be 100 per cent acceptable to both employers and employees. A compromise must be made in this hall.”
Ergma said that besides discussing the state budget and the Employment Contracts Act, the organisation of the work of the Riigikogu was to be updated. First draft Acts on improving the organisation of the work of the Riigikogu by making Question Time more topical and giving more possibilities for starting debates are already being discussed. “And certainly we cannot ignore the need to reorganise the salary system of the members of the Riigikogu and higher state officials. As our families are revising their expenses, so must the state live according to its possibilities,” stressed President of the Riigikogu.
President Toomas-Hendrik Ilves underlined in his speech the utmost importance of the awareness that the security environment in which the Republic of Estonia had been re-established in 1991 and in which we had been building and reforming this state, and in which we had acceded to the European Union and NATO, did not exist anymore.
“We do not need to feel unreasonable insecurity about our future. I confirm that the seventeen years of efforts as well as membership of the European Union and NATO are a sufficient guarantee of security for Estonia also in the changed security environment. In spite of that, Estonia has to find effective counter measures for managing new potential risks,” emphasised the President.
Ilves said that changes around us were becoming more and more rapid, continuous and, most importantly, increasingly global in nature. They are affecting the whole world with an unprecedented strength. This is what has happened in economy, for example. A couple of years ago, only few of us could imagine to what extent the setback would affect world economy or the economy of Estonia. We did not know the extent of slowing down of the economic growth or its impact on the state budget.
“We have the picture now. We know that the recent practice of planning the state policy in the situation of 10 per cent economic growth has become totally useless by today. Instead, we have to ponder whether the growth of economy will amount to 0 or 2 per cent or decrease altogether, how and when economy will begin to grow at the pace of developed countries and, above all, what the new sources of growth could be,” noted the President.
Ilves emphasised: “We have the responsibility to uphold and develop the Estonian state and to ensure preservation of the nation and culture. Taking account of the dramatic change in the European security situation, Estonia has to stake on international reliability and internal and external security of Estonia.”
In the words of the President, the principle of spending in better times and saving in worse times cannot be the basis for building the Estonian state and guaranteeing its security. Collecting and using the revenues of taxes must be reasonable and justified every year. Sustainable management, both at the home and state level, is basically a correct and necessary principle of financial policy. But every choice must correspond to the needs of Estonia both tomorrow and after ten years.
“Therefore we have to look up from election promises, party interests and the coalition agreement. We have to raise our eyes and look farther. Believe me, your electors are also expecting wise and responsible behaviour,” said Ilves.
During the open microphone, Marek Strandberg and Jaan Kundla took the floor.
The Riigikogu Press Service
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