Estonian Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) said in his end of year interview with the Russian-language portal of Postimees that the Estonian state does not cooperate with the media organization Sputnik operated by the Kremlin's propaganda channel Rossiya Segodnya.
"I have repeatedly spoken on this topic. We do not cooperate with Sputnik. And in connection, it would be appropriate to ask if were are indeed doing so little ourselves in our own Estonian mass media," Ratas said, adding that the commitment of Postimees to its Russian-language news portal is commendable.
"In my opinion, this contribution is discernible. I am aware of page views on Postimees' Russian-language portal and they are on the increase," the prime minister noted.
Ratas added that the information space has to be transparent, honest and professional for Estonia's 1.3 million residents, highlighting Postimees' contribution to the media landscape.
"Perhaps we can even one day discuss the return of the Russian-language paper version of Postimees. That would be particularly wonderful," he said.
The prime minister also said Estonia does not fear Sputnik.
"Estonia is an independent state, what is there to fear? Estonia is a peace-loving state, we have excellent allies, what do we have to fear? We need to look to the future and firmly stand up for the residents of Estonia," he added.
It emerged in late November that sanctions against Rossiya Segodnya are forcing the organization conducting its business under the Sputnik brand to vacate its rental premises in Tallinn. Banks in Estonia have been reported to have withheld Sputnik's paychecks already in October due to sanctions.
Ratas said in the same interview that it is not just the words of the Estonian minister of the interior, Mart Helme (EKRE), that pose a challenge for him as prime minister but each day in this position is a challenge.
"Each day as prime minister is a challenge. Each day, different issues and problems need to be solved. As to Mart Helme's latest utterance about the Finnish prime minister [Sanna Marin] - it was inappropriate and clearly had a negative effect. There is nothing good about that," Ratas said.
The prime minister noted, however, that Helme apologized for his words.
"Having spoken as prime minister with my Finnish colleague, I reaffirmed that Estonian-Finnish relations remain fraternal, that we are the closest two neighbors can be, and this positive platform is what we need to be guided by in the future, too," he said.
The general atmosphere in the government is work-oriented, according to Ratas.
"Over the last days, the government made a number of important decisions, such as those relating to combating money laundering and to the European energy and climate policy. It has even been said that Estonia's climate plan is the best in the European Union. Such major decisions indicate that the coalition partners are able to make a joint effort towards a shared goal," the Ratas said.
Editor: Helen Wright