Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE), who has been the subject of criticism for awarding bonuses to the heads of Estonia's power structures, said on Tuesday that the bonuses were paid for their good work last year.
"The extraordinary bonus was awarded for last year's work," Helme said. "I indeed could have been smart and delayed the signing of the documents by a couple of weeks — then there wouldn't have been this kind of stirring up of a fuss. But I'm really nothing but impressed with their activities over the past month."
The minister said he would not have believed that the agencies led by the men in question are capable of working so flexibly and fast.
"In a sense, I shed my political blood in recognizing the heads of agencies, but I don't regret it," he added.
According to the minister and EKRE chairman, Estonia is in a crisis of such scale for the first time since regaining its independence, and the country has coped well in the crisis. The crisis management committee is convening every day, various agencies and institutions have their own crisis committees, and information exchange is functioning well.
He said that even if there were initially more delays and glitches, by now, decisions are reaching those that must execute them quickly and are being executed quickly as well.
Also, for instance, while personal protective equipment (PPE) was in short supply at the beginning of the crisis, the country has since achieved a situation in which deliveries are functioning and a degree of reserves has been achieved.
"We are learning every day; nobody's absolutely infallible," Helme said. "All the links in the chain that engage in governing the state, combating the disease and saving lives are also learning as well."
Estonia will come out of this crisis significantly stronger than it entered it, he added.
Editor: Aili Vahtla