Eesti 200 chair: Crisis management being paused for elections is criminal
The government's decisions to implement restrictions this week are too little and too late, Eesti 200 chairwoman Kristina Kallas said on ETV's interview show "Esimene stuudio" on Wednesday.
Kallas said the government's decisions on Wednesday, among which are restrictions imposed on unvaccinated people on entry to public locations and motivation packages for municipalities and cities and for family physician vaccinations, came two months too late.
"Too little and too late from the government. The decisions the government made on Wednesday are two months late. It is criminal that crisis management was put on pause for the length of the [local] elections and practically nothing was done in terms of vaccination pace, strategy and restrictions, although we are moving in the same direction as Latvia. The elections ended and decisions came, but they are not enough," Kallas said.
The Eesti 200 chair said the government must now up the stakes and drop the vertical command chain to involve partners and supply them with the necessary equipment.
"There is a large amount of partners who are ready to act and the government must take a stance of letting them go ahead, giving them what they want, whether it be private sector healthcare companies, other institutions, employers, schools," Kallas noted.
She said implementing new restrictions for unvaccinated people is not a solution because societal division is already great and the confrontation has become fundamental. "Those against vaccinations have put their hands over their ears and pointing fingers and punishing them does not help. I believe we need to maintain communication with those that have not gone for vaccinations yet. We might need to replace those that talk to them. The government is not trustworthy and the government should not be who communicates with them," Kallas said.
Eesti 200 ready to join coalition in Tallinn
Regardless of their local election success in three of Estonia's major cities, Eesti 200 has only been involved in coalition negotiations in Narva. Kallas said a coalition that thinks of something other than cushy jobs is being created in the city for the first time in 30 years.
Reform Party, which won the election in Tartu, has decided to proceed with familiar partners Isamaa and the Social Democratic Party (SDE). "It was a comfortable choice for Reform to take Isamaa and the Social Democrats, significantly more comfortable than picking Eesti 200 and solving actual problems in Tartu. /.../ With a mandate as large as ours, our wish was certainly to prove ourselves in the coalition, but that was up to Reform," Kallas told show host Johannes Tralla.
The Center Party is currently discussing who to involve in coalition negotiations in Tallinn. Kallas said Eesti 200 refusing an offer would only happen in a joke.
"All parties want to be in the coalition to implement their programs. It would be funny if Eesti 200 were to say no, we don't want to, we will be the party sitting in opposition. Of course we would like to be in the coalition, but there is no reason to go if the coalition partner is not prepared to change," Kallas said.
"The situation in Tallinn is unfortunately one where Center has great power (38 seats out of the 79-member city council - ed) and whoever the coalition partner ends up being, they must be ready for the difficulty of implementing their ideas of change. If Center is actually prepared to make changes in city leadership and to fight corruption, we are ready," the Eesti 200 chairwoman added.
Kallas said the party's most important issues in Tallinn are a decentralization of city leadership and giving city districts more power to make decisions in matters of budget and city space. Another is Estonian-language education. "It is up to the Center Party to decide if they are prepared to see a school network reform through," the Eesti 200 chair said.
Eesti 200 received 6.0 percent (35,317 votes) of the total votes in Estonia, Kristina Kallas was the party's most popular candidate and Estonia's ninth most popular candidate overall, receiving 3,000 votes in Tartu.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste