Tag Archives: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Läheb vist valimisteks! // Return of Democracy!

The IT (Indrek Tarand) Initiative is my extraordinary bid (as an independently elected member of the Greens/EFA Group) to be elected into the Bureau of the European Parliament. Besides the fact that Estonia is well-recognised IT power state, which coincidentally takes on the responsibilities of the rotating EU presidency in second half of 2017, there are other, more intrinsic reasons to be considered. So indeed, why should you support me for one of the 14 vice presidents of the European Parliament?

1. To refresh a somewhat rigid system by holding true elections

It sounds a bit radical, doesn’t it? In reality it is nothing more than political pluralism, a cornerstone of true democracy, which by definition means actual elections instead of appointments by acclamation.

We all are used to the fact, that the current system  leads to confirming foregone conclusions. How should one act when the leader of the S&D Group, Mr. Pitella, has announced the end of the Grand Coalition? Perhaps to prevent the collapse of the established reliable system, and thereby introducing total change, we could just hit “refresh” by bringing in an independent candidate from a small group and even smaller member state?

2. To give a fair chance to smaller players

We all understand that the size of the population and of the economy matter in determining member state’s “weight” in taking our common decisions. While it is true that the smaller states are protected by the so-called regressive proportionality, it is next to impossible to imagine an MEP from a country like Estonia ever becoming a member of the bureau in EP. Why? Because the size of the so-called national delegation matters as well. For example – the Estonian delegation in EPP, S&D, ALDE and Greens consist of only the heads of delegations themselves (read 1 member only).  In EPP it equals to power of 1/200, in the Greens 1/50th. However, it is impossible to become a candidate even in the Greens/EFA Group, because you may represent 18% of your country’s electorate (same proportion as Greens in Austria), but you still have one vote against Austrian 3.  Hence the only option for a MEP from such a tiny country to become a candidate is with 40 plus signatures.

3. Ideas to be tested and perhaps executed 

My promise is simple and does not echo the powerful, but sometimes non-specific phrases about „even more Europe”. Yes, I am truly pro-European, but I take a very pragmatic view about what there is to be done in order to restore the citizen’s trust in the union.

One of the few things to be attempted is to enhance the role of the Parliament as an equal co-legislator. This requires a review of our ability to influence budgetary performance of the Union in general, starting with our own institution. The smallest excess in our own spending or slightest mishap regarding transparency may damage our institution more than any anti-European rhetoric can. We must be exemplary in our dealings, which in turn would give us a more authoritative position vis-à-vis other institutions (as executer of parliamentary scrutiny).

In the budgetary aspect, there are three main players in the European Parliament, namely the BUDG and CONT committees, but also the bureau. Currently members from these two committees are not represented in the bureau. I am already a member of both committees, and thereby I would provide the missing link if elected to the bureau.

As a firm supporter of good digital solutions such as AT4AM and e-Portal, which have somewhat alleviated our administrative burden, I pledge to continue on this forward thinking path (by pushing for more innovative and user-friendly solutions as a VP).

I support Gender balance, and these are not just empty words, I have been promoting the inclusion of women in the public sector since the mid-90s when I was director general of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (and had to set up the whole diplomatic corps after the fall of the Soviet Union).

Furthermore, I will provide:

-Respect and fair treatment to all MEPs. Meaning that Rules of Procedure should be applied in a fair and uniform way to all of MEPs and political groups, no matter the colour or background.

-Openness to engage with each member, and to accommodate their thoughts and ideas to improve the everyday handling of business as well as to increase the power of the Parliament.

Why Independent?

There were two main challenges in the context of the European Parliament elections in Estonia in 2009. One of them was the election system, that did not give people the possibility to decide who to vote for (so-called “closed lists”) – the parties’ leaders comfortably deciding themselves. Furthermore, this is related to an even larger – and still existing – problem.

People in Estonia are too often forced into party membership. They are left with no other choice when they wish to do business in certain areas, build a house, expand their company’s market share, have job at a ministry, etc. I decided I want to contribute to finding a solution, instead of whining about the situation. Moreover, I thought my contribution would make a rather good one, as there is currently only 1 politician from Estonia who happens to have more experience in foreign affairs matters than my 17 years and that is my colleague in the EP, Mr Tunne Kelam. As an independent candidate, I offered the people a little diversity in this context during the last elections and it seemed to resonate with quite a few people.

I have been interested in politics ever since I was little, but I haven’t joined any party. Being in the party during the Soviet occupation was out of the question for understandable reasons. After Estonia had restored its independence, I thought it would be more suitable for a free country to have an apolitical civil service. Even later, when I was the advisor to the Prime Minister and chancellor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was unthinkable that the civil service could belong to a party. I still believe that top officials without party membership are much better than bureaucrats with a party membership.

I acknowledge different ways of thinking, hobbies etc, because they enrich society on the whole. However I cannot say that I could belong to any of the two parties in Estonia that call themselves liberal on a European level because in my opinion they are not. In some things I am rather conservative, maybe even a bit nostalgic. This would however relate only to the Republic of Estonia before World War II. But unlike our conservatives, I am able to interact with the Russians – I can present my thought to them in an understandable way and sometimes even earn their respect. I don’t worship money, though it’s natural that it motivates people rather often. Should I have more money left over, I would prefer it to be given for those in need. Therefore I may say that I also have a social-democratic part in me.

About my activities

The European Parliament is directly elected institution, which represents about 500 million citizens and their interests which are of course very differing. The EP is in close co-operation with the European Commission and European Council; together they produce legislation on issues affecting our daily lives, for example environment protection, consumer rights, equality, transport and the free movement of people, capital and services. Not to mention human rights.

The subjects or topics I am engaged in are mainly connected to the committees and delegations I sit at, although these are rather close to my heart as well.

Among them is, for instance, Iceland, the country that 1st recognised the restoration of the independence of Estonia in 1991. Currently the negotiations on Iceland’s possible accession to the EU are being held. But does the small island-state itself event want to join? Recent polls have showed that people are rather sceptical, even the political groups in Althingi have been said to debate on the issue quite seriously. If Iceland were a Member State, its economic prospects might look better than they do currently in view of the so-called Icesave case, although the latter will not be tied to the negotiations. The EU on the other hand may have a stronger voice in the Arctic region. And this is a region that will attract very much attention in the years to come…

As former Chancellor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Estonia, I was appointed the Green shadow rapporteur in AFCO regarding the European External Action Service report. Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium, EPP) and Elmar Brok (Germany, S&D) were jointly writing the report on how the new “Ministry of Foreign Affairs EU” must be constructed. This involved months of work on when and where to emphasise Human Rights, how to set up crisis prevention and management, who should be in charge of the delegations, how to deploy development aid, how much and in what areas should the EP have control over their budget and so on.

Of course having such an institution as the EEAS is vital if the EU will want to speak with one voice on a global level – or with its neighbours, for that matter. The issue of energy security is the first practical challenge that comes to mind…

This autumn the European Parliament adopted the Alejo Vidal-Quadras (Spain, EPP) resolution on security of gas supply, which calls for the EU to introduce a regulation in order to further secure gas and energy supply in Europe. The document contains several methods and ideas on how to prevent future gas conflicts as seen in the case of the Russian-Ukrainian problems in recent years. This regulation would provide preventive safety measures to ensure that nobody would be left in to the cold.

This reminds that one has to think beyond (but not excluding) its national borders in Europe. Internet freedom and intellectual property rights are issues that affect us all, especially when EU will introduce reforms in this field in the near future regardless whether you are a consumer or a provider of Internet content, be it written articles, music or videos. How should the EU respond to illegal file sharing? We are living in the 21st century and we all download a variety of things from the net. But what about the people that provide the content? If we chose to restrict downloading in today’s form, what measures can be taken? To what extent can we monitor peoples’ activities online? As anyone may guess, these questions affect us all.

Should there be introduced any directives or regulations on a EU level that the citizens will regard unsuitable, lacking or simply bad and they wish to change it – or even call for creating an entirely new EU policy – they have the chance to do so with the European Citizen Initiative. This is a project going to be launched next year, with the aim of giving EU’s citizens the right to introduce an idea for new legislation by the Commission; the latter has to respond and justify its answer and action that will or will not follow.

This is undoubtedly a big step in the development of the citizen society, moreover that all people from all Member States can have a say. This all will have to follow strict rules that are currently in the making. For example, according to the latest state of play, at least 1 million signatures have to be collected from at least 1/3 of the Member States, plus the number of signatures has to be proportionate to the population of that state. This opens up an even greater window of opportunity for small countries. As for now, the setting up of the system continues.

CV Indrek Tarand

Né le 3 février 1964 à Tallinn, Estonie

Marié, trois enfants


1972-1983 Diplôme d’études secondaires à Tallinn

1983-1991 Diplôme de l’Université de Tartu, historien/professeur d’histoire

1992-1993 Etudes européennes à l’université Johns Hopkins de Bologne – P. H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

Formation continue

1984-1985 Service militaire obligatoire de l’Union Soviétique

1997 Formation d’officier de réserve à l’école de combat des Forces de défense

2005 Formation continue pour officiers de réserve Cior Cla, Budapest

Carrière professionnelle

1991-1992 Directeur en relations publiques

1993 Envoyé spécial du gouvernement estonien à Narva

1993-1994 Conseiller du Premier Ministre estonien Mart Laar

1994-2002 Secrétaire général du Ministère des affaires étrangères, Ambassadeur  Extraordinaire et plénipotentiaire d’Estonie auprès du Saint Siège

2002-2003 Directeur des Ressources humaines, Banque d’Estonie

2003-2009 Journaliste indépendant, présentateur télévision et radio

2005-2009 Directeur du Musée de la guerre- Musée du Général Laidoner

2007 Conseiller auprès du Président Géorgien en matière de réforme de l’administration

Télévision et Radio

Présentateur dans « Êtes-vous plus fort qu’un élève de 10 ans ? »

Présentateur dans une émission de radio hebdomadaire


Associations professionnelles

Membre de la société estonienne des étudiants

Membre Fondateur de l’Union Nationale des officiers de réserve.

Membre du conseil des musées


Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur

Compagnon de Malte de l’ordre national du mérite

Magna cruce equitem ordinis s.gregorii magni (Vatican)

Ordre de Pologne du mérite,  5ème classe

Ordre mexicain de l’Aigle Aztèque

Ordre estonien de la Croix de la Terra Mariana, 3ème classe


Donneur de sang

CV Indrek Tarand

Born 3rd of February 1964 in Tallinn, Estonia
Married, father of three children

1971–1982 Tallinn 21st Secondary School
1982–1991 Tartu University, history and political science studies
1992–1993 Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University, Bologna – European Studies

Additional Education
1983–1985 Compulsory Soviet military service
1997 Battle School of the Defence Forces – reserve officers’ course
2005 Reserve officers’ additional course Cior Cla in Budapest

Work experience
1991–1992 Tartu Maja – PR Manager
1993 Special representative of Government of the Republic of Estonia in Narva
1993–1994 Advisor to prime minister Mart Laar
1994–2002 Chancellor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, representative of Government of the Republic of Estonia at the Holy See, Vatican
2002–2003 Chief of Staff at the Bank of Estonia
2002-2003 Chief executive of Estonian Hunter’s Society
2003–2009 Freelance journalist, television and radio host
2005–2009 Director at The Estonian War Museum – General Laidoner Museum
2007 Advisor to the Administration of the President of Georgia

Television and Radio work
„Teletaip“ – “Have I Got News For You”
„Targem kui 5B“ – “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?”
„Tantsud tähtedega“ –  “Dancing with the Stars”

Social activity
Member of Estonian Student Society
Founder of the Estonian Reserve Officers’ Association
Member of the Museum Committee in Estonia

Published articles
Indrek Tarand has published numerous articles on a regular basis.

Commandeur de la Légion d`Honneur (France)
Companion of the National Order of Merit (Malta)
Magna cruce equitem ordinis s.gregorii magni (Vatican)
Order of the Merit of the Polish People’s Republic (5th class)
The Royal Norwegian Order of Merit (Norway)
Order of the Aztec Eagle (Mexico)
Order of the White Star Third Class (Estonia)