First coalition talks: Open agreement expected (2)
According to Jüri Ratas, chairman of Estonia's Center Party, who launched coalition talks on Wednesday, the new government coalition won’t draw up a long coalition agreement, but instead agree on general principles.
The Center Party, the Social Democrats, and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) met for a first round of official coalition talks on Wednesday evening. At a press conference following the meeting, Center Party chairman Jüri Ratas said that the three parties wouldn’t rush things.
“We won’t do it in a hurried manner, but instead discuss and involve experts,” Ratas told journalists on Wednesday evening. He confirmed that during the talks launched on Wednesday they had already met with leaders of the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) and the Free Party, up to now the other two opposition parties. Ratas said that they were also expected to contribute to shaping Estonia’s future politics.
According to Ratas, the partners want the new coalition to stand on three main pillars. The first is solving the population crisis, the second breaking the standstill in the economy and tax policy, and the third strengthening security and foreign policy. This last point had been at the beginning of the talks, Ratas said. He confirmed that there would be no change, and that Estonia would continue on its present course in that area.
Chairman of the Social Democrats Jevgeni Ossinovski said that they wouldn’t draw up a long coalition agreement, but instead agree on main principles. In other matters the coalition would be open to new ideas and acknowledge changing circumstances. “You can be sure that the new government will take Estonia forward and solve issues that the previous government was not able to deal with,” he added.
IRL chairman Margus Tsahkna confirmed that the new partners did not want to continue the previous political culture. “Our governing and coalition agreements will be open, and we will definitely include experts,” Tsahkna said.
According to Tsahkna, all good ideas would be discussed. Priorities are economic growth, security, and population growth. He added that negotiations would be tough, but expressed hope that they would be productive, since there was the necessary will.
Statement: No course change in foreign and defense policy
A statement by the three parties made on Wednesday confirmed that they intended to continue Estonia’s current security and foreign policy principles. “Partnerships and allied relations in NATO and the European Union are the most important guarantee of our security. We will continue to support allocating at least 2% of GDP to defense expenditure, and we will strengthen the diplomatic service,” the statement read.
To get the country past its current economic stagnation, they would work with businesses and entrepreneurs, the parties wrote. But they would also include social considerations: A reduction of income inequality is part of the principles.
The common interest of the new government would be the preservation of the Estonian people and state, language and culture as well as their economic success and the well-being of the people. “Making these decisions, we will make sure that our children, grandchildren, and also their children will live in a free, prosperous, and friendly Estonia,” the statement read.