Tartu opposition thinks coalition agreement lacks ambition

Tartu Town Hall Square.
Tartu Town Hall Square. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The parties left out of the coalition government in the city of Tartu say that the city government will continue without much change. There are aspects in the coalition agreement that the opposition praises, but there is a lack of new ideas and specificity.

Eesti 200 chairwoman and Tartu's second most popular candidate in the local government elections Kristina Kallas said the coalition's plan to transition to Estonian-only education is confusing. "If the goal to transition to Estonian-only education would be that Estonian children would also go to these schools, I would understand. Then we would move toward a common school, all schools would be similar and parents would not say 'this is a Russian school, I will not take my child there'," Kallas said.

She said Annelinn High School, which implemented a rather successful language immersion program, had an idea of constructing a common Estonian-language school. The plan would have seen a school developed, in which Estonian parents could have sent their children to study in a Russian study program.

"That would have been an option in bilateral language immersion, leaving Estonian and Russian children to study together. Russian children would study Estonian and Estonian children would be given a study program focused on Russian," Kallas said.

The Eesti 200 chairwoman noted that there is nothing wrong with the Tartu coalition agreement, but things could be more specific and powerful.

"I would certainly change the goal of becoming climate neutral by 2040. This should be brought forward by a lot - 10 years. It would be one of the agreements of the coalition agreement. Based on that, we would agree upon the specific actions and what they mean to the city of Tartu. In addition to the 'green accelerator', which would need double the investments," Kallas said.

EKRE's Tartu region chairman Silver Kuusik said that since the coalition has not involved the Russian community enough, the idea of Estonian-only education may be obstructed by community resentment. All this could be helped by valuing participatory democracy.

"We want there to be a section in the city statutes, which would allow draft laws to be put into force, if a certain percentage of the city population agrees on it," Kuusik said.

Center Party's Tartu region chairman Jaan Toots also said the coalition agreement is good, but also wondered why previous promises have not been completed. He pointed to cycle paths: "Cycle paths are criticized in Tallinn for being red, but at least they are completed. Whether they are bright pink, red, green in Germany, but they are colored. The question is answered at the expense of roads and not sidewalks. Scooters are an issue in Tartu. They drive fast on sidewalks and that is an issue for young people and old people," Toots said.

The Reform Party, Isamaa and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) signed a coalition agreement in the end of October, keeping Urmas Klaas (Reform) as the city's mayor. Reform won 19 seats in the 49-seat Tartu city council, both EKRE and Eesti 200 received eight seats on the council, SDE got five seats, as did Isamaa. Center Party sent four people to the city council.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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