Former PM: Finland has never decided to support Estonia in risk situations

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Siim Kallas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Referring to the Finnish government's discussions about tightening entry restrictions, former Estonian prime minister and long-time politician Siim Kallas (Reform) said the Finnish government has never made decisions that would support Estonia in risky situations.

"The Finnish people have been invaluably useful to the Estonian people, having opened the West to us. We must be very-very grateful to the Finns. But the Finnish government has never made decisions that would support Estonia in risky situation," said Kallas, currently a member of the Riigikogu.

Kallas said on ERR's "Otse uudistemajast" web show that this was also apparent when Finland did not rush to recognize Estonia as an independent state and later, when Finland did not wish to grant Estonia visa freedom.

Responding to show host Indrek Kiisler, Kallas also noted that Finland did not support Estonia's monetary reform in 1992. "They helped us humanly and helped educate us. But they left us alone with the political decision. It is like a paradox."

Additionally, Finland not being a part of NATO while Estonia is also causes contradictions.

On Wednesday, the Finnish government began discussing tightening entry restrictions and will discuss dropping the infection rate threshold from 25 per 100,000 to 10 per 100,000.

Presidential candidates doubtful of their support level

Kallas, a former presidential candidate himself, said candidates have not announced their decisions yet this year because they do not know of their support and even just setting up a candidate requires 21 MPs to approve it.

"I think it is a practical question mostly and not as emotional. Nobody wants to just come out before there is some likelihood that they can get their votes together," he said.

"Since it is currently not clear how these 68 votes (necessary for a president to be elected in the Riigikogu - ed) will be collected, the parties do not want to announce anyone in fear of the candidate being torn to pieces. People do not wish to run themselves, either. This situation still needs some settling and some candidates will eventually come out," Kallas added.

The former prime minister has been a member of the Reform Party since 1994 and said the party has looked for presidential candidates from within the party and outside of it, but there is nobody that would get enough votes currently. At the same time, he emphasized that since Reform already holds the prime minister seat (Kaja Kallas, Siim's daughter - ed), the position of president is not appropriate.

The toughest part of the vaccination process is behind

Responding to a question about COVID-19 vaccination, Kallas said that since he is vaccinated, he is pleased, but 68,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines being written off due to faulty storage facilities is a sad situation.

At the same time, Kallas noted that Estonia has passed the toughest part of the vaccination process. "It has been a great battle, the number of vaccinated people is critically high. The hardest period was in winter, when we were looking at the hospital network being drained. That was a danger. Today, the hardest point is passed with vaccinations," he said.

Minister of Health and Labour Tanel Kiik (Center) has managed his job well, according to Kallas. "We respect him. Think how he has led this whole thing in such a difficult time. There is no country in Europe that could say their government has operated perfectly. Some things have went well, some things have not. There is no need for lynching today," Kallas said.

Russia detaining Estonian consul was likely a provocation

Russia's internal security service (FSB) detained Estonian diplomat Mart Lätte in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, accusing him of "receiving classified materials". Russia on Wednesday declared Lätte persona non grata and gave him 48 hours to leave the country.

According to the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the action is likely meant to be a provocation.

Kallas said the foreign affairs ministry's official explanation is likely true because consuls generally do not deal with classified materials. "It could have easily been that someone told the consul they were going to bring him something interesting. If that is how it was, then the consul should have realized it and not accept any materials from anyone."

"I assume the consul is not the man who is tied in some classified operations. I believe this is very likely a provocation," Kallas added.

Speaking about the unprecedented increase in irregular migration situation on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, Kallas said managing the refugees will be a complicated and challenging task for Estonia.

"It will be complicated for Estonia. If Lithuanians are truly struggling and ask for help, it will be difficult for us to say no," the former prime minister said.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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