Statement of parties negotiating coalition: No general course change to be expected (2)

Coalition negotiations between the Center Party, the Social Democrats, and IRL continued on Thursday. (Anna Aurelia Minev/ ERR)
11/11/2016 1:33 PM
Category: News

The Center Party, the Social Democrats, and IRL, who are currently negotiating a coalition agreement, released a statement on Thursday that declared their intentions as well as setting out principles for the new government, and expressing its priorities in defense, security, and foreign policy.

The full and unedited statement as submitted to the media in English:

Joint declaration of the Estonian Centre Party, the IRL Party and the Social Democrats

Effort and devotion of all our people is the foundation of the achievements of Estonia. We recognise all the previous governments who have ruled the country wholeheartedly. Now, the time has come to take a next step, because the development of Estonia has come to a standstill. We need fresh ideas and open-minded approach.

In order to break this standstill, Estonia needs a broad-based and open government which is capable of cooperation and relies on internal trust; does not adopt decisions alone, but listens to entrepreneurs, experts, non-governmental bodies and opposition parties. We would like to emphasize that we support open governing. All good ideas are welcome.

Our parties are responsible for establishing a government which has to put an end to the economic stagnation in Estonia, guard our security, increase social wellbeing and boost up population numbers.

We have agreed about the following principles:

We will adhere unconditionally to the current principles of security and foreign policy; our membership in the the NATO and the EU is the paramount guarantee for our security. We endorse the allocation of at least 2% of GDP to the defence budget and strengthen external service.

In cooperation with entrepreneurs we take serious measures to improve business and economic environment in order to put an end to economic stagnation. We'll save Estonia from the trap of almost non-existent economic growth. The welfare of people with lower salaries is important to us and we would like to abolish the image of Estonia as the country of largest disparities in income and implement new, innovative ideas to change current taxation policy. We are going to guarantee more equal opportunities to all the people of Estonia, paying special attention to education, to social and regional policy.

The focal point of our agreement is to solve the demographic problems of Estonia: Estonia should become a country with increasing population and rising birth rate, where the number of Healthy Life Years increases, where expatriates want to repatriate and which respects differences.

The common interest and responsibility of our government is the continuation of Estonia as a nation, the development of the Estonian language and culture, economic success and wellbeing of our people. By taking these decisions we keep in mind a free, prosperous and friendly Estonia where our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren would live happily ever after.

The negotiating parties also published an overview of their guiding principles in three main policy areas. This is the full and unedited statement as submitted to the media on Thursday:

Guiding principles of Estonian Government Coalition on Foreign, Security and Defence policy

Estonian Foreign, Security and Defence Policy is based on a wide consensus within Estonian society and political establishment that the cornerstone of our security is proactive membership in EU and NATO and active Trans-Atlantic cooperation and partnership. The Coalition is committed to redouble our efforts in delivering on these principles.

We are convinced that Estonian foreign service is under-resourced for the challenges it is facing today. We are committed to significant increase of resources for conduct of Estonian foreign and security policy as well as for promotion of Estonian economic and trade interests abroad.

We are focused on successful Estonian Presidency of the EU in 2017. We will, as a matter of urgency, review and adopt Estonian presidency priorities to match that goal.

We regard as highly important the successful continuation of European Union Eastern Partnership policy.

We stress the need to maintain close cooperation and relationship with the UK now and after the UK has exited the EU.

We stress the special importance our alliance and cooperation with the United States of America has for the security and prosperity of Estonia.

Estonia has strong and enduring interest in furthering security, stability and good neighbourly relations in the whole of our region.

Estonia supports wholeheartedly common policies of the European Union and NATO directed at defending the sovereignty of Ukraine and restoring its territorial integrity. Sanctions imposed on Russia should be eased only when Russia returns to the fundamental principles of international law on those matters.

We remain committed to defence spending of at least 2% of GDP to ensure adequate development of our self defence capability.

Investments needed to ensure good Host Nation Support for the troops of our Allies that will be stationed in Estonia within NATO Enhanced Forward Presence policy, will be made on top of the regular 2% of GDP defence spending.

We support further strengthening of NATOs defence and deterrence measures and persistent Allied military presence in Estonia.

We will create an additional National Defence Investment program.

Estonia will continue active participation in international peace operations together with our allies and partners.

We aim to increase the number of people who will receive military training through the conscription system. We also deem it important to advance the capabilities of National Defence League as well as to widen its membership.

To increase the resilience of Estonian society in the event of a crises we will adopt a concept of civilian defence.

Statements follow after hyped-up reports in foreign press

The parties made it a point over the last two days to stress their intention to continue with Estonia’s general approach to foreign, defense, and security policy. This became necessary after the Reform Party publicly treated the impending government change like something resembling the 1940 assistance pact with the Soviet Union that led to Estonia’s occupation and the end of its independence.

The currently ongoing change of government was portrayed by many foreign publications as an impeding complete change of course of the country — which, taking into consideration the statements and actions of the parties in the Estonian parliament since the country’s joining of NATO and the European Union in 2004, was exaggerated.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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