The 2nd 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.
Ms Ergma’s speech stressed the need to make several decisions directly concerning the future of the Estonian nation and state right at the beginning of the new parliamentary season.
„We have to discuss the 2008 State Budget. The slowing down of the economic growth must not be over-dramatised but must nevertheless be taken into account,” Ms Ergma noted.
„During the autumn session we must discuss and decide on the continuation of the foreign missions of our Defence Forces. The issue has lost nothing of its complexity and I hope to witness a constructive discussion in the Riigikogu Plenary Hall on Estonia’s role as an international partner in the field of security,” Ms Ergma stated.
The President of the Riigikogu emphasised the importance of celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia: „Only three constitutional amendments have been passed during these years, which shows the quality of the work that the Constitutional Assembly put into compiling the Estonian Constitution. The 11th Riigikogu will proceed the amendment to the Constitution proposed by the President of the Republic on the subject of the status of the Commander of the Defence Forces. I hope that all the political parties represented in the Riigikogu have the will to pass this constitutional amendment during this term.”
The President of the Riigikogu acknowledged the work of the Riigikogu in discussing and deciding on the European Union affairs. The Riigikogu has actively participated in making decision in the Union affairs and Estonian MPs have had excellent opportunities for having their say on the Union issues. “I have come to realise that Estonian’s parliamentary scrutiny in Union issues is widely known and respected by other Member States as well as by countries still beginning their journey towards the integration into the EU,” Ms Ergma said.
Ms Ergma admitted that the planned Russian-German gas pipeline in the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea has not passed the Riigikogu deliberation. “In my opinion it is crucial to discuss this issue of national importance as soon as possible,” Ms Ergma stressed.
„The Riigikogu faces a serious discussion on the future of the Estonian energy sector. Energy discussion must not be reduced to a “quiet season page filler”, but can only be carried out efficiently in cooperation with ministries, as an issue of national importance, involving top specialists of the field,” the President of the Riigikogu explained.
Ms Ergma emphasised the need to continue the analysis of events which took place in April. “We have passed the “burning phase” of the issue and the time has come to find answers to questions about the underlying causes and steps to take in order to avoid the recurrence of the situation.”
The President of the Riigikogu ended her speech by declaring: “As members of the parliament we must all be sensitive to our role, understand that our decisions and actions in this Hall as well as outside of it impact the future of our nation and state, not to mention the reputation of the Riigikogu itself. Let us not forget that.”
In his speech, the President of the Republic Toomas-Hendrik Ilves pointed out that the parliament’s task is to function as a representative assembly of the people, as befits a democratic country, where every Act or amendment is born out of a discussion uniting everyone concerned. Nothing justifies rushed actions if these harm democracy and consequently the public perception of Estonia. „Your job is to strengthen the Republic of Estonia and our civil society, as well as to help the Estonian nation in building wealth. The efficiency of a parliament’s work is not measured by the hours spent in the Hall, nor by the number of Acts passed. It is only when your decisions today and tomorrow help Estonia to successfully overcome the obstacles on the horizon and beyond that the voters will have any reason to be satisfied with your work,” the President insisted.
The President of the Republic expects the Riigikogu to concentrate its efforts during the new working year on the fields which will influence the lives of Estonians and the situation of our state in 15-20 years. „I am particularly looking forward to solutions in issues of education and research, population and health care, integration and energy policies. Success in these fields is guaranteed to improve the sense of security of our nation, which will lead to the stable development of Estonia,” Mr Ilves said.
The Riigikogu Press Service
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