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Estonian president: In our region presidents must be insurance policies to their countries

RIGA/TALLINN - In our region, the leader of each country realizes that they must be like an insurance policy to the country - effective in foreign countries, with good cooperation and close ties with leaders in our region and the rest of the world, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said in an interview to Latvia's Ir magazine.

"But there is also the other side - communicating with the Estonian people and ensuring a proper functioning of society so that no one is left behind, that no one feels like they are not a part of our team of one million people. This is essential," Ir quoted Kaljulaid as saying.

Asked about the areas in which Estonia's cooperation with Latvia might still improve, Kaljulaid noted the closeness of the two neighboring countries' economies and pointed out that many companies in the world regard Latvia and Estonia as a single market. "I believe that we have a common goal to create a distinct Nordic and Baltic economic region. It appears that we are already close to that," Kaljulaid said.

The Estonian president added that Estonia can serve as a good digital bridge connecting all countries of our region, offering its developed platforms for research and use to others. Kaljulaid is also sure that there are areas in which Estonia and Latvia might develop and gain the global advantage as there is no other region in the world where various sovereign nations have such close cooperation in the digital sphere.

"I also think that our digital development is social, not technical. We are not as rich as Western European countries, which is why closer cooperation is needed between the public, private and the third – voluntary – sector in order to create consolidated society at much lower costs," the Estonian president said, adding that she encourages these discussions to make people think about these issues, which is important in the long term.

Asked if she is concerned about the European Union's future, given that anti-EU movements have been gathering strength lately, Kaljulaid said that she has spent 12 years working in EU institutions and knows Europe's strength. "It always finds a way to the future. Even if the process may seem chaotic, debates lengthy and decisions create an impression that they give too little and are belated, Europe has always proven that it comes [with difficulties]. I am confident that this will be the case this year and also in the future," she said.

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