No end-of-year meeting between president and government this year ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

This year's Christmas forest in front of Kadriorg Palace.
This year's Christmas forest in front of Kadriorg Palace. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The traditional end-of-year mingling of president and government ministers has been cancelled for this year, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

The government had been offered two slots late last week, ERR reports, but since there was no positive response from the government office, the event, which was begun by President Lennart Meri, was cancelled.

President Kersti Kaljulaid's public relations advisor Taavi Linnamäe told ERR that: "Yes, this event did not take place, but I do not think it is right to elaborate on the subject in public."

The government's communications office said that both parties had been unable to find a time amenable to them.

Monday was also the president's 50th birthday.

The meeting did take place this time last year and is thought to be the first time the event has not happened since Lennart Meri, who was Estonia's first president following restoration of independence, inaugurated the practice.

Prime minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) recently said he would not be attending the annual presidential evening reception at the Estonian National Museum (ERM) on February 24, either, with finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE) saying he, too, would not be attending.

Ratas also did not attend the traditional Rose Garden reception at the Kadriorg Palace, seat of the president, in late August.

Speculation has long been rife of a rift between the prime minister and the president, largely as a result of issues with the current coalition government, which the president recently called a threat to Estonia's national security, mainly arising from the inclusion of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) in its ranks.

On the very day the current coalition was signed into office in late April, President Kaljulaid wore a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words "Sõna on Vaba" (literally "the word is free", but also a play on an earlier EKRE slogan).

Martin Helme also recently said that Mart Helme, his father, and leader of EKRE as well as interior minsiter, also recently declined an invite to Kadriorg for coffee and a discussion, on the grounds that there was no need for it.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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