TALLINN - At a key address on Estonia's independence day, President Toomas Hendrick Ilves has said that battling unemployment is the country's top priority.
"The most troubling problem currently we need to solve is unemployment. In the good years of economic growth, we came to believe that the unemployed themselves were to blame. This is no longer the case. Companies laid off people not because of poor performance but because of their own economic problems," Ilves said.
"I currently see no other option but to prepare for the worst and do everything in our power to ease the economic impact of unemployment, and particularly its social impact. A substantial amount has been done, but it is not enough," he said.
The president was speaking at Vanemuine Theater in a high-profile annual address that takes stock of the state of the nation and outlines future priorities.
Ilves also mentioned a deteriorating education system as one of the main problems that needs to be addressed in the country.
"I note with growing concern that the desire to modernize Estonia’s educational system and the education we provide is becoming bogged down in political conflict and opposition from interest groups," he said.