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President Ilves in Canada: small countries run into difficulties if they do not follow the rules

President Ilves in Canada: small countries run into difficulties if they do not follow the rules
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves visited the Communitech technology and innovation centre, in Waterloo, near Toronto
© Raigo Pajula


The President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who is currently on a state visit to Canada, gave a presentation yesterday at a reputable economic club, Economic Club of Canada, where he spoke about the economy of the European Union and the success story of the economy of Estonia, despite the predictions.

When answering, repeatedly, to a question concerning the choice between austerity and growth policies, the Estonian Head of State emphasised that, in fact, there are no conflicts between austerity and growth because the choices and paths taken by countries are different. As a result of austerity policies, we have got the economy of our country back on the path to growth, while some countries can go bankrupt as a consequence of overheated growth.

President Ilves introduced the choices and situation of the Estonian economy to his audience; among other things, the public debt of Estonia is the lowest in Europe, as is the budget deficit. Ilves also spoke about the development of ICT in Estonia as one of the important growth engines. Estonia's X-road, which is the technical foundation of our e-services and e-signatures, remains unique in both Europe and the world in general. Thanks to safe authentication of the user, Estonia can provide e-services that are currently not used anywhere else.

President Ilves invited Canadians to get acquainted with our e-governance system and invest in Estonia as a unique, vibrant and active European economic environment. He also invited to Estonia young Canadian people and, above all, young Estonian people living in Canada to learn.

Estonia is the only country that meets all the euro area and NATO budget requirements, which we have all taken on a voluntary basis, told the Estonian Head of State. He emphasised that while in some places attempts are being made to find culprits from the "poor and dirty Eastern Europe" who are guilty for the problems of Europe, all the "old" western countries have actually run into economic difficulties and they have all dropped lower than Estonia in the international corruption index rating. Eastern Europe is no longer the "problem child" of Europe, stressed President Ilves.

Yesterday, he also gave a presentation at the Communitech technology and innovation centre, in Waterloo, near Toronto. President Ilves introduced the e-solutions of Estonia more thoroughly there and spoke about cyber security and philosophical problems that have emerged in the digital world in relation to privacy and identity.

The cyber world could be described today as a residential area of questionable repute: people living there will not open their doors to anyone claiming to be a family member or a friend of the inhabitant, stated the Estonian Head of State. Even in cyber space we need to be sure about the identity of our communication partner, whether this is an individual, organisation or company. Although in this world, people still feel timid about the data entrusted to the state as the "big brother", Estonia has efficiently secured identity data. We should worry more about the fate of sensitive personal information that is made available to private companies and used for commercial purpose, or the ill-intended activities of people lurking around in cyber space. In Estonia, the government has become an entity that ensures the safety of the cyber world and has a beneficial influence on the growth of the economy as the facilitator of further ICT development.

President Ilves introduced, among other things, the activities of the People's Assembly as an online democracy forum and the master's degree programme on e-governance that is to be launched by Tallinn University of Technology this autumn. He encouraged Canadian technology companies to begin co-operation with Estonians and encouraged young Canadians to come study in Estonia.

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