In a post on social media, Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) defended Prime Minister Jüri Ratas' (Centre) stated decision not to attend President Kersti Kaljulaid's Independence Day reception next February, stressing that Ratas has the right to spend that time with his family instead.
"This complaining over the prime minister's terse response to a journalist that he would not take part in the president's reception, and the fact that critics believe this is terribly inappropriate, doesn't withstand scrutiny," Reinsalu wrote on Facebook. "If Jüri Ratas chooses to be with his family that evening, that is his right."
According to the minister, it would also be Ratas' right to not attend the Independence Day reception if his goal in doing so was to send a message regarding his assessment that namely cooperation — "no, not even cooperation, but rather solely interinstitutional tolerating of one another's legitimacy, not calling it into question in the harshest of words" — between the president and the government led by the prime minister has been questionable.
"It is the sending of this particular signal that critics of Ratas' absence from the reception appear to presume," he continued. "He as someone leading the state and as a politician has the full right to do such a thing as well, by the way, should he wish to do so — which, I might add, he has not confirmed. It is in the interest of the dignity of the state that I prefer such a silent gesture over dramatic actions accompanied by a bunch of hoopla. As someone who knows a thing or two about state protocol, I can confidently say that there is nothing inappropriate in either reason for missing the reception.
Ratas to spend evening with family
In his end-of-year interview with the Russian-language ETV+ last week, Ratas mentioned that he would not be attending Kaljulaid's Independence Day reception on February 24 next year.
"On February 24, I will definitely be attending events at Vabaduse väljak (Freedom Square), the parade ad such," Ratas said. "If you are wondering whether I plan on attending the presidential reception, I can tell you that I have already informed the president that unfortunately, I will not be in Estonia [that evening], as I would like to spend school break with my family."
Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) wrote on social media on Saturday evening that he would not attend the traditional Independence Day reception next February either.
Editor: Aili Vahtla