Former European Union budget auditor Kersti Kaljulaid was sworn in Monday to a five-year term as Estonia’s youngest and first female president, the Baltic nation’s fourth head of state since it gained independence 25 years ago.
The 46-year-old Kaljulaid was elected earlier this month by parliament as a consensus candidate, after votes earlier this year fell short of the required two-thirds majority needed to fill the presidency.
Kaljulaid, a political outsider, last week won 81 votes in the 101-member parliament, well above the required 68 votes.
In an address Monday, Kaljulaid stressed unity and security, calling on the country’s 1.3 million residents to “have confidence and faith that we can always, every day, maintain the Estonian country.”
The largely symbolic office has gained visibility in recent years, as outgoing President Toomas Hendrik Ilves became an increasingly vocal critic of neighboring Russia.
Estonia and the two other Baltic states, Latvia and Lithuania, gained independence with the dissolution of the former Soviet Union in 1991.
They joined NATO in 2004, seeking the protection of the Western military alliance from what the three governments frequently described as threats from their giant neighbor to the east.