President Ilves tells politicians, press to stop mudslinging

01.06.2012, 12:42

Yesterday President Toomas Hendrik Ilves issued a statement criticizing Estonia's political leaders for making rash statements that cast aspersions on neutral investigative bodies and the rule of law.

He said the statements made by politicians on issues ranging from extensive wire-tapping to other violations of the law violated the boundaries of good taste and credibility and could shake the public's confidence in the fundamentals of Estonian democracy.

„It is an attempt to divert attention from the essence of the core question. The narrow interests of political parties have been raised above the responsibility for all statements that comes with the status of being a member of parliament or government minister.

Instead of slinging accusations at each other and settling scores, parties and their representatives could focus on restoring their credibility.

„I call upon all politicians, journalists, representatives of civil society, and opinion leaders to tame their emotions and to remain within the limits of a civilised exchange of ideas,” Ilves said.

Ilves did not mention names, and extended his call to other parties and the press.

But Ilves appeared to be referring to the comment in which Prime Minister Andrus Ansip denied that any covert financing arrangements in his Reform Party could have been arranged by telephone because, Ansip alleged, wiretapping of politicians' calls was universal.

"I am concerned when there is an attempt to undermine the trustworthiness of investigative and supervisory authorities above the level of party politics and shake the public's faith in the possibility of honest governance," said Ilves.

He said an "irritatingly" large number of facts about party financing had come to light in the last 18 months, not just in the Reform Party.

"The public has the right to ask questions and ask, in addition to answers, better oversight and changes to financing procedures for party financing," he said.

„During the course of the last eighteen months a disturbingly large amount of shady cases concerning the funding of political parties have become public. The authorities of other countries have been asked to provide funds for election campaigns.

Estonian residence permits have been traded. Money from unknown sources has been donated into party treasuries.

I hope that this expresses recognition on behalf of the parliamentary parties that requesting extra financing from the state budget would not be appropriate,” said the President.