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Toomas Hendrik Ilves
Estonian politician who served as the fourth President of Estonia

Toomas Hendrik Ilves

Toomas Hendrik Ilves
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Estonian politician who served as the fourth President of Estonia
Is Politician Journalist Diplomat Psychologist
From Estonia United States of America
Field Healthcare Journalism Politics
Gender male
Birth 26 December 1953, Stockholm, Stockholm County, Sweden
Age 68 years
Star sign Capricorn
Politics , Social Democratic Party
Spouse: Ieva Ilves (2 January 2016-)Evelin Ilves (2004-30 April 2015)Merry Bullock (1981-2004)
Columbia College
Columbia University
University of Pennsylvania
Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose of Finland  
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Falcon  
Cross of Recognition  
Order of the Three Stars, 1st Class  
Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Netherlands Lion  
Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana  
Grand Cross with collar of the Order of Vytautas the Great  
Collar of the Order of the Star of Romania  
Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour  
Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary  
Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum  
The details (from wikipedia)


Toomas Hendrik Ilves ([ˈtoːmɑs ˈhendrik ˈilves]; born 26 December 1953) is an Estonian politician who served as the fourth President of Estonia from 2006 until 2016. Ilves worked as a diplomat and journalist, and he was the leader of the Social Democratic Party in the 1990s. He served in the government as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1996 to 1998 and again from 1999 to 2002. Later, he was a Member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2006. He was elected as President of Estonia by an electoral college on 23 September 2006 and his term as President began on 9 October 2006. He was reelected by Parliament in 2011.

Early life and education

Ilves was born in Stockholm, Sweden; his parents Endel Ilves (1923–1991) and Irene Ilves (née Rebane;1927–2018) fled Estonia after its occupation by the Soviet Union during World War II. His maternal grandmother was a Russian from Saint Petersburg. He grew up in the United States in Leonia, New Jersey, and graduated from Leonia High School in 1972 as valedictorian. He received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Columbia University in 1976 and a master's degree in the same subject from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978. He also received an honorary degree from St. Olaf College in 2014 in recognition of his relationship with the college. In addition to his native Estonian, Ilves also speaks English, German, Latvian and Spanish.


Ilves worked as a research assistant in Columbia University Department of Psychology from 1974 to 1979. From 1979 to 1981 he served as assistant director and English teacher at the Open Education Center in Englewood, New Jersey. Ilves then moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; from 1981 to 1983 he was director and administrator of arts in Vancouver Arts Centre and from 1983 to 1984 he taught Estonian literature and linguistics in Simon Fraser University.

From 1984 to 1993, Ilves worked in Munich, Germany as a journalist for Radio Free Europe, being the head of its Estonian desk since 1988. As Estonia had restored its independence in 1991, Ilves became Ambassador of Estonia to the United States in 1993, also serving as Ambassador to Canada and Mexico at the same time.

In December 1996, Ilves became Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, serving until he resigned in September 1998, when he became a member of a small opposition party (Peasants' Party, agrarian-conservative). Ilves was soon elected chairman of the People's Party (reformed Peasants' Party), which formed an electoral cartel with the Moderates, a centrist party. After the March 1999 parliamentary election he became foreign minister again, serving until 2002, when the so-called Triple Alliance collapsed. He supported Estonian membership in the European Union and succeeded in starting the negotiations which led to Estonia joining the European Union on 1 May 2004. From 2001 to 2002 he was the leader of the People's Party Moderates. He resigned from the position after the party's defeat in the October 2002 municipal elections, in which the party received only 4.4% of the total votes nationwide. In early 2004, the Moderates party renamed itself the Estonian Social Democratic Party.

In 2003, Ilves became an observer member of the European Parliament and, on 1 May 2004, a full member. In the 2004 elections to the European Parliament, Ilves was elected MEP in a landslide victory for the Estonian Social Democratic Party. He sat with the Party of European Socialists group in the Parliament. Katrin Saks took over his MEP seat when Ilves became President of Estonia in 2006. In 2011, he was re-elected for a second five-year term.

In 2013, it was announced that Ilves had accepted a position on the Council on CyberSecurity's Advisory Board. In 2015, it was announced that Ilves had agreed to join the group of advisers to the World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

During his presidency, Ilves has been appointed to serve in several high positions in the field of ICT in the European Union. He served as chairman of the EU Task Force on eHealth from 2011 to 2012 and was chairman of the European Cloud Partnership Steering Board at the invitation of the European Commission from 2012 to 2014. In 2013 he chaired the High-Level Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms convened by ICANN. From 2014 to 2015 Ilves was the co-chair of the advisory panel of the World Bank's World Development Report 2016 "Digital Dividends" and was also the chair of World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Cyber Security beginning in June 2014.

Beginning in 2016, Ilves has been co-chairing The World Economic Forum working group The Global Futures Council on Blockchain Technology. In 2017 he joined Stanford University as a Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. From July 2017, Ilves has been a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Ilves belongs to the advisory council of the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

Presidential elections

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and President George W. Bush, in Estonia 2006

Ilves was nominated by the Reform Party, Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica and his own Social Democratic Party on 23 March 2006, as a candidate for the 2006 presidential election.

On 29 August, Ilves was the only candidate in the second and the third round of the presidential election in Riigikogu, the Parliament of Estonia (he was supported by an electoral coalition consisting of the governing Reform Party plus the Social Democrats and the Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica which form the parliamentary opposition). Ilves gathered 64 votes out of 65 ballots. Therefore, one deputy of the three party alliance supporting Ilves did not vote in favour of his candidacy. A two-third majority in the 101-seat Riigikogu was required, so he was not elected in Riigikogu. His candidacy was automatically transferred to the next round in the Electors' Assembly on 23 September.

On 13 September 2006, a broad spectrum of 80 well-known intellectuals published a declaration in support of Ilves' candidacy. Among those who signed were Neeme Järvi, Jaan Kross, Arvo Pärt and Jaan Kaplinski.

On 23 September 2006 he received 174 ballots in the first round of the presidential election in the Electors' Assembly, thus having been elected the next president of Estonia. His five-year term started on 9 October 2006.

Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Dmitry Medvedev in 2008

On 29 August 2011, he was reelected by the 101-seat legislature to a second five-year term. His opponent was Indrek Tarand. He received support from 73 members of the legislature, and is the first candidate to be elected in the first round since Estonia regained independence in 1991.

Personal life

Ilves has been married three times. With his first wife, American psychologist Merry Bullock, he has two children: son Luukas Kristjan (b. 1987) and daughter Juulia Kristiine (b. 1992). In 2004, Ilves married his longtime partner Evelin Int-Lambot with whom he has one daughter, Kadri Keiu (b. 2003). Ilves' representatives announced on 17 April that Ilves and Evelin Ilves have divorced as of 30 April 2015. Their marriage lasted for 10.5 years and broke up after being distant from each other for a while. In December 2015 it was announced that Ilves was engaged in mid-November to Ieva Kupče, the head of the Cybersecurity Division in the Defense Ministry of Latvia. They married on 2 January 2016. On 28 November 2016 they announced the birth of their son Hans Hendrik Ilves.

Ilves has been noted for his enthusiasm for social media. He maintains a Twitter account, personally posting on a regular basis to comment on both current events and his own interests, usually in English.

In public, Ilves almost exclusively wears bow ties. He says that this is because his late father used to do so.

Ilves has a brother, Andres Ilves, formerly head of the Persian and Pashto World Service of the BBC. Until the early 2000s, Andres Ilves was head of the Afghanistan bureau of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty based in Prague, Czech Republic.


National honours

  •  Estonia 2006 The Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana
  •  Estonia 2008 The Collar of the Order of the National Coat of Arms, also known as the Presidential Chain

Foreign honours

  •  Norway 1999 Knight First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit
  •  Greece 1999 Grand Cross of the Order of Honour of Greece
  •  France 2001 Commander of the Légion d'Honneur of the French Republic
  •  Estonia 2004 Third Class Order of the Seal of the Republic of Estonia
  •  Latvia 2004 Three Star Order of the Republic of Latvia
  •  United Kingdom 2006 Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath of Great Britain
  •  Finland 2007 The Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose of Finland with collar
  •  Japan 2007 The Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum of Japan
  •  Georgia 2007 The Golden Fleece Order of Georgia
  •  Spain 2007 The Order of Isabella the Catholic with Collar of Spain
  •  Lithuania 2008 The Order of Vytautas the Great with the Golden Chain of Lithuania
  •  Netherlands 2008 The Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion
  •  Belgium 2008 Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold
  •  Latvia 2009 The Chain of the Order of the Three Stars
  •  Hungary 2009 The Grand Cross of the Order of Merit
  •  Georgia 2010 St. George's Order of Victory
  •  Iceland 2010 The Order of the Falcon, Knight Grand Cross
  •  Romania 2011 Order of the Star of Romania, Collar rank
  •  Kazakhstan 2011 "Dostyk" (Friendship) the Star of Award I of Kazakhstan
  •  Malta 2012 The Grand Collar of the National Order of Merit of the Republic of Malta
  •  Latvia 2012 The Cross of Recognition of Latvia, I class
  •  Poland 2014 Order of the White Eagle
  •  Norway 2014 The Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav
  •  Slovakia 2015 Slovak Republic's Order of the White Double Cross, First Class

International awards and honorary degrees

  • 2013 NDI Democracy Award by the National Democratic Institute
  • 2014 Freedom Award by the Atlantic Council
  • 2015 Aspen Prague Award by the Aspen Institute
  • 2016 Knight of Freedom Award by The Casimir Pulaski Foundation
  • 2017 Reinhard Mohn Prize by the Bertelsmann Stiftung
  • 2017 World Leader in Cybersecurity Award by the Boston Global Forum
  • 2007 Honorary Doctorate of the Tbilisi State University, Georgia
  • 2010 Honorary Doctorate of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland
  • 2014 Doctor of Letters honoris causa of the St. Olaf College, United States of America
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 03 Aug 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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