RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Alar Karis, Chile’s honorary consul, may have to give up the post he has held for about 10 years.
An academic and director of the Estonian National Museum, Karis was elected president of Estonia by the Riigikogu (National Parliament) by a two-thirds majority.
Karis was elected in the second round of voting with 72 votes out of a possible 101 after falling short of the required majority on Monday. He won with 63 votes from the ruling parties, a coalition of centrist and reformist parties.
Karis succeeds Kerti Kaljulaid, the first female president of the small Baltic country, a member of the EU and NATO.
The new president, who was born in Tartu, is a molecular geneticist and developmental biologist and a professor at the Estonian University of Life Sciences.
He was rector of the Estonian University of Life Sciences from 2003 to 2007 and the University of Tartu from 2007 to 2012.
He was then appointed Auditor General of Estonia. At the end of his five-year term, he was appointed Director of the National Museum, a position he currently holds.
Honorary consuls do not have to be citizens of the state they represent. For example, a British citizen with permanent residence in Estonia is the Honorary Consul of Croatia.
The position is suitable for representing states that do not have full or partial diplomatic representation in the host country – such as Chile in Estonia – or in secondary cities or towns in countries where they do.
In an interview before his appointment, Karis expressed a desire for Estonia to be known as an “intelligent and educated” country and to be “the country with the best-educated people.”