Eleven ex-ministers issue written appeal on coronavirus crisis strategy

Coronavirus restrictions signage, in three languages.
Coronavirus restrictions signage, in three languages. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Eleven former government ministers have signed a joint address to the prime minister, the president and the Riigikogu speaker, calling on them to take urgent steps towards reaching a cross-party consensus on strategic issues in resolving the coronavirus crisis.

The signatories belong to, or have represented, the Social Democrats (SDE), Isamaa, Center and Eesti 200.

"The next month will be critical for Estonia. We do not need a new world record for infection and remaining among the last place in the EU in terms of vaccination coverage. Estonia can do better, our people deserve better. Targeted and joint action without political opposition is essential to overcome the crisis," the address, signed by Kaia Iva, Helmen Kutt, Marju Lauristin, Eiki Nestor, Jevgeni Ossinovski, Siiri Oviir, Marko Pomerants, Riina Sikkut, Margus Tsahkna, Rannar Vassiljev and Toomas Vilosius.

"The people expect politicians to exhibit statesmanlike behavior, to set aside party politics and to act responsibly to bring society out of this crisis. No political force must cash in political points at the expense of public health. Heads of state and MPs must speak with one voice. Consensus must be sought and an example must be set," the address goes on.

"The crisis raises important ethical and fundamental rights issues, be it privacy and data protection, compulsory vaccination in certain job positions or various restrictions. These should undoubtedly be discussed and decided in the Riigikogu across political parties and practical results should be achieved without delay."

Regaining the trust of the people in the state is also paramount, the framers of the address noted.

"Decisions must be informed and explained to the public in a convincing and comprehensible manner," they wrote, adding that the pressure on the healthcare sector made acting in a timely manner more crucial than ever.

"Doctors, nurses and carers are working under terrible pressure in difficult conditions. Not everyone in need can be helped with their health concerns anymore, and we have had too many deaths throughout the year. And there seems to be no relief, no end of the third wave on the horizon," the address continued.

Kaia Iva was social protection minister with IRL, renamed Isamaa, 2016-2019, Helmen Kutt (SDE) held the same post 2014-2015, Marju Lauristin was social affairs minister in the early 1990s, Eiki Nestor held the same post in the late 1990s/early 2000s with SDE, and was more recently Riigikogu speaker (2014-2019), Jevgeni Ossinovski is an SDE MP who was education minister and then health minister 2014-2018, and later SDE leader, Siiri Oviir was a Center Party social affairs minister in the mid-1990s and then an MEP 2004-2014, Marko Pomerants was environment minister with IRL/Isamaa 2015-2017 and a social affairs minister in the early 2000s, SDE MP Riina Sikkut was health minister 2018-2019 and has been tipped as a potential future party leader, Margus Tsahkna was defense minister with IRL (now Isamaa) 2016-2017 and social protection minister immediately before that – he is now in Eesti 200 – Rannar Vassiljev (SDE) was health minister in 2015 and is a former mayor of Rakvere, and Toomas Vilosius was social affairs minister for a few months in the mid-1990s.

The written appeal was addressed to the head of state, President Alar Karis, the head of the government, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform), and the Riigikogu speaker, Jüri Ratas (Center).


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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