Estonia

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip announces his resignation


Published

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip has announced that he will resign as prime minister on Shrove Tuesday (Tuesday 4th March).

In a speech made prior to Estonia’s Independence Day today the prime minister said;

“It was here, in the concert hall of Vanemuine, that I announced two years ago that I would not start a new election campaign as a candidate for Prime Minister. That’s how it is.

I’m sure there were those that said: a politician can take back his promise as easily as he gave it. I have always tried to keep my promises. So today is the day that I can assure you: on Shrove Tuesday, I will hand my resignation application to the President of the Republic.

This decision, taken two years ago, has come from my personal belief that there is a reasonable time for everything in this life, that everything has a beginning and an end. And that every end is the beginning of something new. This decision was not taken under pressure from anyone. The number of those that pressurise is equal to the number of supporters. That is the reality of politics; one might even call it a routine.

So – it’s time to draw the line.”

The full speech by the prime minister as published on the Estonian government website is as follows:

“Speech of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip in Tartu, 23 February 2014

Dear people of Estonia, compatriots, good citizens of Tartu – I congratulate you all on the coming 96th birthday of our dear country.

Dear Honorary Citizens of Tartu and fresh recipients of the Star of Tartu – I congratulate you on the high recognition of your home town!

It has become a tradition that the Prime Minister of Estonia holds a speech in Tartu on the eve of the anniversary of the Republic. I am taking this honourable opportunity for the ninth time. Which will also be the last time.

It was here, in the concert hall of Vanemuine, that I announced two years ago that I would not start a new election campaign as a candidate for Prime Minister. That’s how it is.

I’m sure there were those that said: a politician can take back his promise as easily as he gave it. I have always tried to keep my promises. So today is the day that I can assure you: on Shrove Tuesday, I will hand my resignation application to the President of the Republic.

This decision, taken two years ago, has come from my personal belief that there is a reasonable time for everything in this life, that everything has a beginning and an end. And that every end is the beginning of something new. This decision was not taken under pressure from anyone. The number of those that pressurise is equal to the number of supporters. That is the reality of politics; one might even call it a routine.

So – it’s time to draw the line.

It is a proud, an inexpressibly warm feeling to have had the opportunity to work as the head of Government for so many years – more than a third of the lifespan to date of the newly independent Estonia.

I consider this a sign of trust from the people, and I am sincerely grateful for that. I consider this a sign of support from fellow party members, of cooperation willingness from coalition partners and also of respect from the opposition.

One must agree that the best judge of a person’s actions is time. And time should be given time as well. Time for the settling and selection of those stories that will eventually become history.

In the history of the Republic of Estonia, the years 2005-2014 could be called years of earnest dedication. Nothing comes easy in this world. Neither states nor economies, neither companies nor families are safe from disappointments and setbacks. Nobody.

But it was in the emotion-rich period of change, in spite of the off-hand promises and cynical calls, that the people of Estonia found the strength to remain themselves – to remain the sensible, wise, common-sense people that they are.

When I praise the well-ordered finances of the state of Estonia – and I have always considered this a matter of importance – I am praising the people of Estonia.

It is the sensibility and wisdom of people that has given future generations the opportunity for happy self-accomplishment. We have not asked our children to pay the debts for the hardships of today.

Honourable listeners!

A future-orientated sense of responsibility, which has, to my mind, characterised all of the governments of the newly independent Republic of Estonia, does not mean avoiding paying attention to the economy and welfare of today.

The fact that the debt of the public sector is lower in Estonia than anywhere else in the EU concerns every person in Estonia. Just one comparison: the countries of euro area paid an average of 900 euros of debt interest per inhabitant in 2012, that is 40 times more than Estonia paid!

Let it be noted that well-ordered public finances also mean cheaper credit for the private sector. This, in turn, means a clear competitive advantage for Estonian companies.

Even the ill-intentioned opponents who consider the organisation of the Estonian state unsuccessful and its government a failure cannot ignore the facts.

Estonia continues to be attractive for foreign investors. According to the classification of the International Monetary Fund, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Estonia are the only post-socialist countries that can be called developed economies.

According to the Human Development Index of 2013, Slovenia and Czech Republic are the only post-socialist countries ahead of Estonia in terms of the human development index.

And most importantly, a person’s life expectancy has risen by almost four years over the last 9 years – more than in any other country in the EU. Taking care of one’s health also means caring for those that are close to you, and it also means caring for Estonia.

But I’m sure a healthier people is a great acknowledgment of the doctors of Estonia, who have been able to provide the best possible healthcare to our people. The Estonian healthcare system has the best price/quality ratio in Europe.

We live longer, we live better and we also feel better. According to the latest Eurobarometer, three quarters of the people of Estonia are content with their lives. Which does not mean that the Government could look past those that have difficulties, or that the emigration of people from Estonia is not a problem at all.

But still, let me remind you that the number of those that are returning to Estonia is growing, and that the number of inhabitants of Estonia, for which a disastrous decline was predicted before the census of 2011, is, according to specified results, still over 1.3 million.

I would hereby like to thank our wonderful mothers and fathers who have decided to have more than two children.

But thanks is not enough. A more consistent support for families with many children is the goal of the child support reform that we have started.

Good people!

Estonia made her choice years ago: to be an inseparable part of Europe and the democratic world.

Naturally, the attainment of this goal has been an aim for the Government over these last nine years. Estonia has joined the euro area, OECD, the Schengen visa space.

We have been a trustworthy, stable and professional partner for our allies in NATO. We are able to offer support to our friends and allies, and to help those that need our help, thereby decreasing risks and instability throughout the world.

We do not trade with security. We have kept our promise to spend two per cent of our GNP on defence. Never before in history has the security of Estonia been so well defended.

But security is not just military theory.

Thanks to investments in the energy sector, notably to the Estlink cable connection with Finland, our energy security is also better protected than before. Energy security will increase further with the Balticonnector gas pipeline being built between Estonia and Finland.

Our security is also influenced by our ability to adapt to a world that in technologically terms is totally new. There is no doubt that we are on the forefront of this. And I don’t just mean the cyber defence initiatives that have originated in Estonia.

Estonia is characterised by innovative applications as well as innovative ideas. In 2007, we implemented the “ask one time” principle.

This means that a citizen is expected to submit one kind of data just once. Thanks to the well-functioning X-road system, the inter-registry use of data has quietly become a given. As many as 95% of all submitters of income declarations use our e-tax board. The completely safe e-elections have quickly been accepted – they were used first at the local elections of 2005.

At the last elections, a quarter of all voters chose to do so electronically. We have a well functioning digital prescription and web-pharmacy system.

At the end of last year, we became the first in the world, along with the Prime Minister of Finland, to conclude a digitally signed intergovernmental treaty – concerning joint developing in the area of digital technologies. We are not the younger brother in that partnership.

About 150 million digital signatures have been given in Estonia to date, about 40 million new ones being added each year. Here’s a comparison: In Lithuania, 10 million digital signatures have been given all in all, and 3 million in Latvia.

Even the Nordic countries, otherwise famous for their flair for innovation, have not yet embraced the digital signature. Estonian people working in institutions and companies, or having a lot of contact with documents as private persons, know what a huge saver of time and paper the digital signature is.

A small country has to be effective and innovative. That’s why the Estonian Government has increased the financing of research and development activities more quickly than any other country in Europe. Let’s not forget that last year, Estonia became a space country. Let’s also not forget that according to the PISA global test, our young people are among the smartest in the world.

The good knowledge level of students confirms that the unity school model has been a right choice. Compared to other countries, the differences between the levels of different schools are tiny; the whole world is open to the students of any village or suburban school.

Estonian families have always considered education important. So has the state. Estonia is investing a larger share of GNP into education than most other EU countries. In order to appreciate teachers better, whose personal dedication is the pillar upon which education stands, we have initiated a school network reform.

Good people of Estonia!

What awaits us in the near future?

In May, voters will have to decide who should be sent to the European Parliament. I think more and more Estonians have come to realise that the elections to the European Parliament are not a matter of secondary importance.

Although there are only six Estonian deputies in the European Parliament, we have all of the same opportunities to influence processes in Europe. A strong and functioning Europe is a guarantee for the future of Estonia.

What does ‘a strong Europe’ mean? Let’s take, for example, the budget, the so-called euro-money.

The budget of a strong Europe does not just mean a large pile of money to have petty fights over. It does not mean the attitude of ‘we should get as much out of it as possible, and put in as little as possible’. Neither does it mean huge agricultural support sums.

The budget of a strong Europe should be built on a policy of sustainability. A budget based on a reasonable policy should value science, the internal market, a common foreign policy more than it does right now.

But a strong Europe needs the strong support of citizens. That is why elections to the European Parliament should be taken seriously. After all, there are such important issues on the table as the free trade treaty with the US and visa freedom with Russia.

Preparations have also begun for the 2015 elections to the Riigikogu. The Government of the Republic of Estonia that will receive a mandate next year will quite probably be the Government to face some of the greatest challenges of our near future. First, Estonia will hold the responsible role of Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2018. And second – on 24 February 2018, the independence of Estonia will be one hundred years old.

These are such major events that preparations for them must already be underway, but understandably most of the work will have to be done and most of the responsibility born by the next Government.

Honourable listeners!

As I already said, I will not be forming the next Government.

I thank all the members of my Governments who have performed their work with dedication.
The Government has shown strength, decision and unanimity in harsh times.

There is no doubt that this Government could still do a lot for Estonia. Still, I consider it reasonable to hand over the post of the Prime Minister now, because only in this way will people have the opportunity to vote for or against continuing the present policy in 2015.

Naturally, the President of the Republic will decide to whom he will entrust the task of forming the Government.

As the Chairman of the Reform Party, I assure you that we have candidates who would do well in the role of Prime Minister. And we are continuously ready to form the Government, to keep Estonia a desirable place to live, to champion a liberal economic environment, to protect the free word and the free market, the national spirit and an increasingly healthy Estonia. Everything good that my Government has stood for as well.

And finally.
While thanking the whole of Estonia for everything we have done together during these years, I also thank my family.

I thank my wife, who has been forced to accept my being away from home constantly. But she has always known that when I start something, I do it with full dedication.

I thank my daughters, especially Liisa, who has grown to be a fine young woman, largely without her father being present.

Thank heaven for mobile phones. And it is quite often that the connection does not even break off… I thank my grandchildren – these five little persons have been a great source of support and joy.

Dear fellow-townspeople, good people of Estonia – I wish you a wonderful coming anniversary of the Republic!

Long live Estonia!”

More detailed briefing on the politics and risk of doing business in this country is available to clients and subscribers. If you would like to know more then please contact enquiries@tradebridgeconsultants.com