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The Academic Council of the President of the Republic thanked the outgoing Head of State

On Tuesday, President Arnold Rüütel met at Kadriorg with the members of the Academic Council of the President of the Republic and thanked them for their cooperation.

President Rüütel gave recognition to the decision made by Lennart Meri in 1994 to set up the Academic Council and expressed his satisfaction that the highly learned body has managed, through expressing its viewpoints, to contribute to more balanced development of Estonia. “The Academic Council was set up in order to advise the President in better fulfilling the President’s constitutional tasks. This body does not duplicate the work of legislature and executive structures, nor does it compete with them. But, through the institution of the President of the Republic, it offers high-level and politically impartial expert opinions and recommendations for the promotion of life in Estonia,” the Head of State said.

“I have used the viewpoints of the Council in many of my speeches, and with their help have explained different processes going on in Estonia to politicians both at home and abroad. If in the future the recommendations of scientists represented in the Council were more realised also in the work of the Riigikogu and the Government, it would be a clear proof of progress of Estonia as a knowledge-based society. The challenges are serious - in order to guarantee Estonia’s competitiveness it is necessary to design action plans for maximum use of our existing human resources,” President Rüütel added.

Sitting together over a cup of coffee, the participants of the meeting discussed the activities of the Academic Council during the term of office of the outgoing President and unanimously assessed it as being successful and worth to be continued. Counsellor to the President on Science, Secretary to the Academic Council Jüri Kann gave an overview of the work done during five years and among other things highlighted that public interest towards the topics handled at the sessions of the Council had continuously increased, the proof of which was the number of visits to the Council’s web page where the Council’s materials are archived. “The Council has treated topics of extreme importance for Estonia such as internal security, labour market and demographic situation. Prior to the accession to the European Union, various aspects of that historic step were thoroughly weighed and at that also the opinion of invited guests, President of the International Pan-European Union Otto von Habsburg and Prof. Igor Gräzin, were considered,” Prof. Jüri Kann said.

Chairman of the Council’s Commission on Science, Education and Culture Jaak Aaviksoo said that the Council had achieved a lot in strengthening of civic society. “Our society needs more such institutions, for example, in Finland there are advisory bodies of scholars also at the parliament and the government. Also the Public Understanding process deserves recognition, some growing pains of which inevitably reflect our civic society’s weakness. Over politicising is a serious problem for Estonian society, much more attention should be paid on the existence of common understanding,” Prof. Aaviksoo said.

Prof. Urmas Sutrop stressed that the Academic Council had prepared the bill on amendment to the Constitution concerning the protection and valuing of the Estonian language that is currently processed by the Riigikogu. Prof. Jaan-Mati Punning underlined that the Council had participated in working out measuring indicators for Estonian National Strategy on Sustainable Development “Sustainable Estonia 21” that was approved by the Riigikogu a year ago.

Prof. Arvi Altmäe shared the concern of the President of the Republic over the maximum use of people’s potential in Estonia, and made the following factual comparison: in Finland, with its population of five million, 64 children dropped out from basic school in 2004, but more than 1600 dropped out in Estonia. At the same time, several members of the Council shared an opinion that the unsatisfying level of our statistical accounts made it difficult to precisely find out the real situation in different fields.

Member of the Academy Ain-Elmar Kaasik stressed that in the future, alongside with the universities and the Academy of Sciences, also the Academic Council should aim to offer additional knowledge to politicians in order to improve the quality of political decisions. Prof. Kalev Katus expressed an opinion that having even stronger ties with the Baltoscandic culture would be in the interests of Estonia, in a longer perspective that Baltic Sea region might become one of the richest regions in the European Union.

In conclusion, the President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, Member of the Academy Richard Villems said that the activity of the Academic Council of the President of the Republic was worth recognition and very fruitful.

The information about the work of the Academic Council of the President of the Republic during 2002-2006 is available in the Internet: .

Upon the initiative of the Council’s Commission on Internal and National Security an anthology “The price of Estonia’s success. Social protection and people’s security in Estonia” compiled by Eduard Raska and Tiina Raitviir was published in 2005. This year an anthology “Estonia on the road of sustainable development” compiled by Jaan-Mati Punning, the Chairman of the Council’s Commission on Rural Life and Balanced Development, was published. An Anthology “Estonia at the crossroad” is currently under work.

An overview of the Academic Council’s work in 1994 - 2001 can be found in the anthology “Thinking about Estonia”, compiled by Member of Academy Mihkel Veiderma, additional materials are available in the Internet: .

Public Relations Department of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, October 3, 2006

© 2006 Office of the President l tel: + 372 631 6202 l fax: + 372 631 6250 l