Ratas: Center has cause to repent

Prime Minister and Center Party leader Jüri Ratas making a speech to party members.
Prime Minister and Center Party leader Jüri Ratas making a speech to party members. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said on Vikerraadio's "Stuudios on peaminister" talk show that the Center Party started looking into the origins of the suspicious donation too late, while there was no criminal intent behind it according to the prime minister's information.

Ratas admitted that Center has cause to repent in light of the donation scandal for failure to investigate the origin of the donation in a timely manner.

"The prosecution has launched an investigation, which I believe is the right thing to do. However, political parties do not have levers with which to investigate the origin of donations. There are simply questions and answers, questions we asked. True, we did it too late," Ratas said.

Ratas said Center is introducing more stringent in-house controls to avoid such situations in the future. He added that Center trusts its secretary general Mihhail Korb who will be keeping his job.

Attitude toward EU funds needs to be conservative

Ratas said that the government is looking to consult the Riigikogu when making important decisions. In this light, opposition leader Kaja Kallas' position, according to which moving the EU rescue package decision to the Riigikogu is an exercise in political technology by the government, is not true.

"Heaven help us!" Ratas said when commenting on Kallas' statement.

Asked what would happen should it turn out the EU rescue plan is not in accordance with the union's founding treaties, the PM said that the EU is a flexible organization that is aimed at finding solutions. The necessity of altering the founding treaties and potentially unconstitutional aspects therein have become an issue, Ratas said.

"We have commissioned a legal analysis, with assessments provided by the finance ministry, justice ministry and the government office. They are saying that there is no conflict," Ratas said, adding that an independent legal analysis will also be provided by lawyers from an Estonian university that he did not name.

Ratas explained that EU rescue fund financing needs to be conservative and transparent.

"The approach we support is that loan payments should be made through Estonia's EU contribution," Ratas said, adding that the fund is still a plan at this point, albeit one of colossal sums. Ratas said the sums in question can be as high as €809 billion in current prices.

Ratas described as very important the EU Just Transition Fund on climate policy. It will see Estonia get €736 million. The prime minister said he strongly supports green technology development and implementation.

We need to introduce hydrogen in public transport. If we can do that, for example, on the level of trains or buses, we can create demand the private sector can get behind," the PM said.

Ratas also talked about the idea for a joint Estonian-Latvian wind farm in the Gulf of Riga.

Most Estonians in favor of Rail Baltic according to PM

Jüri Ratas also emphasized the necessity of Rail Baltic in light of a recent audit by the European Court of Auditors and said the Estonian people support the project. He said the audit overlooked several aspects, such as transport moving from the roads to the railroad.

Ratas said that Rail Baltic is described as a functional project in which the European Commission is involved and important in terms of the European Green Deal.

No one can be left behind in rural areas

Ratas said that it is important to have future infrastructure that would allow people to work where they are.

"No prior government has contributed so much to regional development as evidenced by Estonia's strong local governments," Ratas said, adding that work is being done to tie urban and rural regions together. The PM mentioned development of the transport network as an important aspect therein.

Ratas said, in light of the Lihula incident, that psychiatric control needs to play a bigger role in whether a person qualifies for a weapons permit. Ratas added, however, that an ordinary police patrol could have achieved little and that what mattered were the actions of rapid response units that the area did not have four or five years ago.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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