Ieva Ilves' life between two countries

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Ieva Ilves, Estonia's First Lady, has been living between Latvia and Estonia for a few months now. She continues working at the Latvian Defense Ministry even after marrying president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, reported Latvian Television Saturday.

She has been employed at the Defense Ministry for ten years now, working side by side with the last seven Defense Ministers of Latvia. Her cabinet is off-limits to the public however, as she works at the secret part of the ministry, heading the National Cyber Security Policy Coordination Department at the ministry. The department protects data and computer systems from intrusion.

As Estonia's First Lady, she attended all the main events of the Estonian independence celebration in Tallinn last week.

"I am working very honestly at the Defense Ministry. I am doing my work duties in Latvia and thank my colleagues - both my subordinates and my bosses - who put up with my absence so that I could fulfill my duties here, like this week when there are no public holidays in Latvia," Ilves said.

She says that willpower and planning is required to manage that many duties. "I am learning very much to optimize my job - the things I do and which have to be done in Rīga. Being here, we have modern technologies that allow doing a lot remotely," she said. 

"Of course I want to do more both on one side and another. It demands work from both of us, from both of the parties, to arrange schedules and events. But at the moment I'm both here and there," said Ilves.

Anete Gnēze from the Latvian Defense Ministry said that Ieva Ilves does indeed manage to do all of her tasks which make up a long list. Ieva Ilves is in charge of overseeing and developing the cyber security policy as well as implementing it during security incidents. She also represents Latvia abroad in the cyber security niche. 

Estonians meanwhile seem to be divided over their First Lady continuing work and giving up privileges that come with being the First Lady.

For example, media expert Mark Raudsaar said: "Of course, everyone deserves happiness, however in the specific case a choice should be made between a personal and an institutional matter, not mixing the two together depending on the convenience or profitability of the situation."

However some say that the union between Toomas Hendrik and Ieva will benefit both countries.

Estonian media are publishing pictures indicating that their president got a second breath and looked much happier in this year's independence celebration in comparison to last year's.

There are at least two rational goods to the union, according to Estonians.

Ieva being a cyber security expert is seen as a big plus, as Estonian government websites came under attack after the Bronze night. The other is that there's a better chance that their president won't be moving abroad after his term runs out in August.

However Ieva Ilves said their future plans aren't clear yet. "I think he [Toomas Hendrik] has a lot of force left to invest. There's great interest in him, and there's great potential," she told Latvian Television.

In Latvia, she plans on making e-services more accessible as well as providing every Latvian with a secure digital identity. A similar system has been successfully running in Estonia for some time now.

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