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President Kaljulaid at the Riigikogu: our Constitution is strongly centred on people

15.06.2020

While speaking at today´s public session of the Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu dedicated to the 100. anniversary of the Constitution, President Kaljulaid stressed that according to our Constitution the relationship between the state and the citizen is not a vassal relationship, but values humanity and everyone´s freedoms.

„Our constitutional order, as the people decided in 1992, is very focused on people. First, come people. Then citizens. The state and all of its institutions are there for their citizens. According to our Constitution, the link between the state and its citizens is not a vassal relationship or the relationship between the carer and the cared for,“ stated President Kaljulaid at the Parliament.

She added that the people, the supreme political authority, did not simply want the majority to rule over the minority in Estonia when they approved the Constitution: „The Estonian people clearly wanted all of us to be free in our choices. They didn’t want the state to ever tell us again how and where and in which way we have to live.“

At the same time, the Head of State stressed that such an approach to the state, where the citizen is not one of the objects of the state, someone to rule over and use for the achievement of the state’s goals, or someone who can be forced to perform certain activities, is very demanding of the leaders of the state. „The only reason for the citizens of a state with such a constitution to support the state in its aspirations and goals is the free will of the citizens. Free will arises from respect for one’s state and its institutions. Free will arises from understanding the goals of the state. Free will also arise when a citizen sees their role in shaping and achieving the goals of their state.“

President Kaljulaid added that it is difficult for citizens to love the kind of state where everyone knows that they may become the object of the wrath and mockery of the leaders. „There is less interest in how it’s doing. People find a way to live their lives without having an active relationship with the state. This, of course, is convenient for those who want to lead without having to explain their decisions, without having open discussions.“

In her speech, President Kaljulaid also pointed out as signs of danger complacency with the achieved and the assurance that we cannot be taken off the course. „ During stages of peaceful development in history societies will develop complacency over what they have achieved. They feel that the only way is up. They even feel that sometimes there is room for decisions that entail a huge risk of rolling down a little because at the end of the day, there is nothing existentially dangerous in this. However, these moments can become turning points in history.“

At the end of her speech, the Head of State once more stressed the importance of individual freedoms: „The Constitution of Estonia is an act established for the free citizens of a free state, which can only be kept alive by citizens who are truly free. Our Constitution does everything to ensure that every adult citizen would want to think along with their state and consider its future when thinking about their own, whether they decide where to live, who to become or how many children to have. The Constitution of Estonia was not established to give the state control over its citizens, the majority control over the minority.“

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