Minister recommends reconsidering Foreign Service Act

Foreign Affairs Ministry building in Tallinn.
Foreign Affairs Ministry building in Tallinn. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) says that that the Foreign Service Act, which the president declined to promulgate, should be discussed calmly, and passing it again in the Riigikogu shouldn't be a rushed process.

The president rejected the bill in June on the grounds that it did not provide for equal treatment of partners of Estonian diplomats who were in a registered partnership, but not married.

The Riigikogu accepted the law amendment on June 10, but President Kersti Kaljulaid announced two weeks later that she will not promulgate the amendment because it is against the constitution in her opinion.

Reinsalu told ERR September 14 that the Riigikogu should discuss the bill anew, but its entry into force could create problems.

"The Riigikogu will make its decision. My evaluation is that it is hard to accept it without making any changes already, for technical reasons. The law should have entered into force, because the date was August 1. If it is declared unamended, it would go to the Supreme Court (as per the constitutional process for bills which the president does not promulgate - ed.), then, to put it mildly, there will be huge legal chaos," Reinsalu said.

Reinsalu noted that if the law is accepted next spring for example, then the retroactive enforcement of diplomatic wages and benefits would result in chaos.

Reinsalu said that the situation should be discussed again.

"My message is that these questions should be discussed as calmly and transparently as possible. In the current crisis of international relations, the main focus of the Foreign Service must be on the fulfillment of its main tasks, which are diplomacy and the realization of Estonia's interests internationally," Reinsalu said.

President Kaljulaid said that the law is in conflict with §12, 26 and 27 of the constitution, namely, that the law does not extend the principles of equal treatment which would treat people who are in a registered partnership with those who are married. There is no legal provision for same-sex marriage in Estonia at present.

The amendment to the Foreign Service Act changes the salary system of foreign civil servants and the principles of payment of fees and reimbursement of expenses, as well as the conditions for the social protection of accompanying spouses.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte

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