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President of the Republic, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, on the eve of handing over the office of the head of state on Estonian Television, 9 October 2016

President of the Republic, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, on the eve of handing over the office of the head of state on Estonian Television, 9 October 2016 © ERR


Good people of Estonia.
Good friends.

Today is my last full day in office as your president. Tomorrow, Kersti Kaljulaid, the fourth head of state since Estonia restored its independence, will be inaugurated as president.

I feel a great peace inside. Every single day of my ten years as president have proven something to me that I had faith in as a child. That Estonian people are capable, smart and tough. We have bright minds, faith in ourselves and in our country.

Hundreds of meetings with people from Hiiumaa to Narva, from Lahemaa to Valga have introduced me to many people who have the courage to think and dream big and large. You have given me faith and strength. Thank you.

I also feel at peace because I know that Estonia will be well protected and our security will be ensured. This last decade has been pivotal. We saw cracks emerging in the current security situation of Europe and experienced the importance of feeling the support of our allies. As the highest commander of national defence, I witnessed all of this close range.

We need a similar feeling of support – talking, listening and respecting each other – within Estonia, more than we have seen to date. This also means that the judgements of decision-makers are justified and understandable, and we appreciate problems people may have with coping and we reach out for support.

This is a part of the sustainable view of Estonia.

The President of the Republic, who stands beyond political parties, can be a fastidious partner for the parliament, government and political parties. Fastidiousness towards oneself and companions is something quite different from offensive and superficial or populist deriding of each other.

Two more ideas.

I am quite sure that Kersti Kaljulaid will become a good head of state for Estonia. Please, my fellow countrymen, let us cherish together our new president, her family and friends.

Many people have asked me what I will do now. I will be still involved with the issues I have always considered important for Estonia: foreign and security policy, contemporary e-governance, cyber security. Where and how I am going to do all this will also become clear soon. However, to rephrase a well-known quote: Estonia will always remain my chorus line.


I thank all of you who have been my companions, either directly or indirectly, during my term as head of state. The job of a president is full of solemnity and also burdening responsibility. You are alone yet have the support of so many people whose ideas, deeds, dreams and even worries inspire and urge you on.

Thank you, my good Estonian people, for allowing me to serve you as your president. This has been the biggest honour of my life.

Long live Estonia!