Alar Karis

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Alar Karis
Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Estonian President Karis in Kyiv 2022 (13) (cropped).jpg
Karis in 2022
President of Estonia
Assumed office
11 October 2021
Prime MinisterKaja Kallas
Preceded byKersti Kaljulaid
Director of the Estonian National Museum
In office
9 April 2018 – 7 September 2021
Preceded byTõnis Lukas
Succeeded byKertu Saks
Auditor General of Estonia
In office
7 April 2013 – 7 March 2018
Preceded byMihkel Oviir
Succeeded byJanar Holm
Rector of the University of Tartu
In office
3 July 2007 – 30 June 2012
Preceded byTõnu Lehtsaar (Acting)
Succeeded byVolli Kalm
Rector of the Estonian University of Life Sciences
In office
Preceded byHenn Elmet
Succeeded byMait Klaassen
Personal details
Born (1958-03-26) 26 March 1958 (age 64)
Tartu, Estonia
Political partyIndependent
Sirje Karis
(m. 1977)
Alma materEstonian University of Life Sciences

Alar Karis (Estonian pronunciation: [ˈɑlɑr ˈkɑris]; born 26 March 1958) is an Estonian molecular geneticist, developmental biologist, civil servant and politician who, since 11 October 2021, has served as the sixth President of Estonia.[1][2]

Prior to presidency[edit]

Karis was born in Tartu on 26 March 1958[3][4] as son of botanist Harry Karis.[5] He graduated from the Estonian Agricultural Academy in 1981. In 1999 he became a professor at the University of Tartu.[4]

Karis served as rector of the Estonian University of Life Sciences from 2003 to 2007, as rector of the University of Tartu from 2007 to 2012, as the Auditor General of Estonia from 2013 to 2018, and as director of the Estonian National Museum from 2018 to 2021.[1][6]

2021 presidential election[edit]

In August 2021, he was approached by the president of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas with a prospect of nomination for the post of president of Estonia in the upcoming autumn election.[7] He accepted the nomination[8] and his candidacy was subsequently endorsed by both coalition parties, the Reform Party[9] and the Centre Party.[10] On 31 August 2021, Karis was elected as the president of Estonia with a two thirds majority of 72 votes in the Riigikogu.[2][11] He assumed the office on 11 October 2021.[2]

The election received criticism and calls for electoral reform due to the absence of opposing candidates.[12][13][14] Referencing the "turmoil that surrounded the presidential selection process" in his post election speech, Karis called for changes of the system to be examined by the Riigikogu, such as using an enlarged electoral college, facilitating the nomination of candidates or even using direct election.[15]

Personal life[edit]

He has been married to Sirje Karis ​since 1977, with whom he has 3 children and 5 grandchildren.[16] Besides Estonian, Karis is fluent in English and Russian. Although he is fluent in Russian, he has admitted that it needs some practice since he has not had to speak the language in a long time.[17]


National honour[edit]

Foreign honour[edit]


  1. ^ a b "CV: Alar Karis". Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Tambur, Silver (31 August 2021). "Alar Karis elected president of Estonia". Estonian World. Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  3. ^ "CV: Alar Karis". Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  4. ^ a b ERR, ERR News | (30 August 2021). "Who is Estonia's next president Alar Karis?". ERR. Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  5. ^ Eesti Entsüklopeedia 14, p. 142. Tallinn 2000. ISBN 9985-70-064-3 (in Estonian)
  6. ^ "Potential presidential candidate: Smart and educated nation key to future". ERR. 19 August 2021. Archived from the original on 19 August 2021. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  7. ^ "Riigikogu speaker asks museum director to consider running as president". ERR. 17 August 2021. Archived from the original on 17 August 2021. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  8. ^ "Museum director says 'yes' in answer to presidential bid offer". ERR. 18 August 2021. Archived from the original on 18 August 2021. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  9. ^ ERR, ERR | (19 August 2021). "Reform Party Riigikogu group supports Karis as presidential candidate". ERR. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  10. ^ "Center joins Reform in support for Alar Karis presidential candidacy". ERR. 22 August 2021. Archived from the original on 22 August 2021. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  11. ^ ERR, ERR News, ERR | (31 August 2021). "Alar Karis elected President of Estonia". ERR. Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  12. ^ "Estonia on presidential election day as Karis stays sole candidate". Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia. 30 August 2021. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  13. ^ "Estonia faces prospect of an election with only one candidate". euronews. 28 August 2021. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  14. ^ Tanner, Jari (28 August 2021). "Only one candidate in Estonia presidential election". CTVNews. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  15. ^ ERR, Alar Karis, president of Estonia | (11 October 2021). "Karis: I intend to be a balancer above all, and if necessary, a mediator". ERR. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  16. ^ ERR, ERR | (24 September 2021). "First lady Sirje Karis not planning on moving out of Tartu home yet". ERR. Retrieved 30 November 2022.
  17. ^ "VIDEO | Vaata, kuidas saab Eesti valitud president hakkama venekeelsete küsimustega".
  18. ^ a b c d e "Biography".
Civic offices
Preceded by Auditor General of Estonia
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by President of Estonia