President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said in a meeting with Parliament's special committee on implementation of the Anti-Corruption Act that only the legislature itself can come up with a parliamentary code of ethics.
"The reputation and dignity of Parliament can be upheld chiefly by Parliament itself," said Ilves on May 10. "I consider the parliamentary system of government an important value and strength of Estonia. The ethical and transparent activities of MPs add strength to Parliament."
The discussion on drafting a code of ethics rose to light after several MPs for IRL were found to be engaged in business with tie-ins to sensitive immigration quotas decided by the party's ministers in the coalition government. The issue is also on the agenda as the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption will put its focus in its next evaluation round on tackling corruption among MPs.
Responding to a question from Anti-Corruption Committee chairman Andres Anvelt as to who should author the code of ethics, Ilves responded: "It is clear for me that only Parliament can set rules on the conduct of its members."
Ilves added that it would be natural to include NGOs and experts in the process.
"But let's be honest with ourselves: a code of ethics has an impact and meaning only if it is viewed seriously and if instances where the ethical principles are flouted are met with clear condemnation," he said.
Party financing issues, transparent legislative drafting practices and the current situation on the front lines of the battle against corruption were also discussed at the meeting.