Riigikogu to decide on the Päts monument at the beginning of the yearPublished: 30.12.2015

The Estonian Heritage Society (EHS) has sent a letter to the Board of the Riigikogu, containing a proposal to erect a monument to President Konstantin Päts and, according to the President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor a thoroughly considered answer will be given to the society this January.

Konstantin Päts. Photo: Internet

"This is a serious matter; the Board of the Riigikogu has received the letter and we will respond in January," Nestor told BNS on Tuesday. He added that the topic is a wide-ranging one and a simple letter exchange between EHS and the Board of the Riigikogu is not sufficient for making a decision in this matter.

"There are those who have expressed their views in favour of the monument as well as those who are against it. We will definitely not take any decisions on the basis of a bilateral letter exchange between EHS and the Board of the Riigikogu only; a public discussion is needed here. Whether the monument should be built and where – these are still open questions and I hope next year will bring some answers," Nestor said.
According to the chairman of EHS, the board of the society decided in October – with seven votes in favour and two against – that the process of erecting a monument should be initiated, and it sent a corresponding proposal to the Board of the Riigikogu. The Society sees Kuberneri aed (Governor's Garden), the park next to Toompea castle, as one of the potential locations for the monument.

"We sent a letter to the board and we think that representatives of all political parties in parliament should discuss the matter of the monument," Pillak told BNS on Tuesday. He added that the board of EHS has discussed the matter twice and voting was held after the second discussion round.
Pillak admitted that the board of EHS remains divided on whether the monument should be erected.

Archaeologist and long-time chairman of the Estonian Heritage Society Jaan Tamm wrote in Postimees that he considers it inappropriate to erect a monument to Konstantin Päts as a symbol of the First Estonian Republic on the centennial of the Estonian Republic. In Tamm's words, there is a Byzantine plan to pay homage to an autocratic ruler, leaving aside the people who have been the actual vehicle of the Estonian nation throughout the century, before Päts as well as after him.

Mati Strauss is another member of the board of EHS against the idea of a monument to Päts, with arguments similar to those of Tamm, according to Pillak.

There is similar discord among the members of the Riigikogu who are historians by education.

Eerik-Niiles Kross, a member of the Reform Party and a historian by education, says that all the heads of state of Estonia deserve a monument and Päts is the first among them. "The way I see it, even asking the question today whether Päts is 'worthy' of a monument is inappropriate if not outright subversive," Kross said.

The historian Mart Helme, Leader of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia, belioeves that Päts does not deserve a monument, as he was, according to Helme, an intrepid and opportunistic politician, but a statesman with a weak disposition. "Päts was an intrepid and opportunistic politician, but he was weak as a statesman and he lost his nerve when things got critical. The fathers of my generation were in their prime in 1939, and I know they were ready for even a hopeless fight – many of them cried tears of anger when they heard of the capitulation," Helme explained, adding that there already is a monument to Päts at Tahkuranna.

Historian Aadu Must from the Estonian Centre Party said that this question by BNS is "very interesting" and remarked that "this is a subject we could discuss for hours", but he preferred to take no position himself even after being asked three times.

25 years passed this October from the re-burial of the remains of Päts at Metsakalmistu cemetery in the soil of his homeland, and at the meeting following the commemorative service a number of people came up with the proposal that a monument to Konstantin Päts should be erected for the centennial of the Republic of Estonia. Among the instigators of the idea of the monument was Trivimi Velliste, honorary chairman of the Estonian Heritage Society.

Päts was born on 23 February 1874 at Tahkuranna in Pärnu County and died on 18 January 1956 in Burashevo, Kalinin Oblast, Russia.

Source: Baltic News Service

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