Kristina Kallas: Ida-Viru County awaiting government alternatives to Põxit

Estonia 200 chairwoman Kristina Kallas on
Estonia 200 chairwoman Kristina Kallas on "Esimene stuudio." Source: ERR

Speaking on ETV's "Esimene stuudio" on Tuesday night, Estonia 200 chairwoman Kristina Kallas said that Ida-Viru County is prepared to take action in the direction of alternatives to abandoning oil shale, but the government doesn't have the necessary vision.

Host Andres Kuusk noted that Kallas had written on social media a few days before that Estonia has a weak Riigikogu that is incapable of initiating big and bold changes.

According to Kallas, the current Riigikogu thus far has not been capable of resolving problems related to investments in Estonian-language education.

She said that while Estonian-language education in Ida-Viru County was a hot topic ahead of last spring's general election, no one is actually dealing with it anymore. "No extra money has come to Estonian schools in Ida-Viru County," said the former director of University of Tartu Narva College. "Or Russian schools in Ida-Viru County, so that they'd be capable of improving their Estonian-language instruction."

Kallas also finds that green revolution and climate neutrality-related issues haven't been addressed adequately enough either.

"We don't actually have any plans, steps, visions or even proper discussions in the Riigikogu," she said, claiming that the government is afraid of the topic of the green revolution.

"The government doesn't actually have answers for people about what's going to happen," Kallas said. "Trust in the Jüri Ratas-led government is simply eroding, as is trust in Jüri Ratas (Center) himself. The Center Party's rating in Ida-Viru County has fallen sharply since December."

Põxit not realistic for Estonia

According to the Estonia 200 chair, a rapid exit from the use of oil shale, dubbed Põxit in Estonian, isn't realistic for the country.

"It is clear that it will happen, but considering Ida-Viru County, we cannot rush with this," she said. "At the same time, we cannot focus only on Põxit. We have to focus on the fact that by the time Põxit takes place, we already have something else in its place. Will it be a hydrogen plant, will it be the robotics industry that we have attracted there? Will it be the film and cultural industry? I don't know, but we should very seriously consider all of these ideas."

Kallas said that two colleges located in Ida-Viru County have long since been waiting for a signal or plan from the government.

"Once the government says that their plan is to do this, that or something else, then they are prepared to start developing curriculums and running in the same direction as the government, but there are no answers," she said.

Until it is known what will replace the oil shale industry, it is too early to start shutting the latter down, she also stressed.

Kallas agreed with President Kersti Kaljulaid's Independence Day speech, in which the head of state said that people in Estonian politics have insulted one another to the point where they close themselves off.

The opposition has also acted too emotionally as well, she acknowledged. "I and a lot of voters feel like cursing the coalition isn't quite right either, as the opposition has also been very emotional and continually played on emotions," Kallas said.

While the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has played itself into a corner in the Estonian political arena, the concerns of EKRE voters are nonetheless important, she stressed.

Preparations for next year's local elections

Kallas said that Estonia 200 is currently preparing for the local government council elections to take place next year.

"We have a lot of work to do," the party chairwoman said. "We have about a year and a half to go until the next elections. Unlike the last elections, when we established the party four months prior to the elections, this time around we actually have quite a bit of time to work with the people of Estonia. And that is what we are doing right now."

Kallas admitted nonetheless that the party must still learn how to get simple messages across to voters.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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