Reform members push back on Ansip's criticism of prime minister

Liina Kersna.
Liina Kersna. Source: Riigikantselei

Reform Party deputy chairman and former minister Jürgen Ligi said Reform MEP Andrus Ansip may not be too aware of what is happening in Estonia as he works abroad. Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna said she is not aware of any discussions about replacing Kaja Kallas as prime minister.

Reform MEP and former prime minister Andrus Ansip criticized Prime Minister Kaja Kallas last week and told ERR on Monday that the government has not handled the coronavirus crisis well and that Kallas cannot present herself as irreplaceable.

He said the government could have prevented Estonia from getting into a third coronavirus wave and that Kallas should think about who will replace her if she is no longer the prime minister.

"He is certainly overdoing it - he would have been very mad if someone had used these words during his term," Ligi said on Vikerraadio's news show "Uudis+" on Monday. "Such sharp criticism is unpleasant. Tallinn is certainly mad at Brussels in that sense."

Ligi said Reform does not understand what Ansip means when he criticizes the government in coronavirus crisis management and that the situation should be explained to the MEP. Ligi added that it might be too much to ask of Ansip to keep a close eye on what is happening to the party and government in Estonia, seeing as he works in Brussels.

Education minister Liina Kersna told ERR that she is not aware of any discussions about replacing Kaja Kallas. "As far as I know, Kaja Kallas' term ends in a year and a half. And I do not know of any discussions about replacing the party chair," Kersna told ERR.

She added that the government has managed the crisis fine. "Regardless of us trying to keep society open and imposing restrictions on unvaccinated people, we see infection indicators going down. We are making an effort to keep society open, to increase vaccinations and trying to live a safe and normal life. That includes having children be able to go to school," Kersna said.

Ligi agreed with Ansip's criticism of government communications during the coronavirus crisis and added that the communication issues may stem from the personalities of Kaja Kallas and Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center).

"Andrus Ansip must be praised here, we knew what he was trying to say. It always sounded powerfully behind the table and it was a large part in his success - he was able to explain his position whenever he took one," Ligi said.

"There are not too many of these powerful messages. The responsible minister (Kiik - ed) speaks fast, but that does not reach the people, especially risk groups. The prime minister's feminine manner of speech is certainly not as powerful as good old Andrus Ansip's," Ligi said.

Kersna noted that the current atmosphere within Reform is constructive. "I believe there are things we can learn from Andrus Ansip's criticism. And I believe we will learn these lessons," the education minister said.

Ligi said the coalition partners have not always been in synchronicity, either. "We have mainly had an issue with Jüri Ratas (Center chair and previous prime minister - ed) not being in government, but trying to stand out as a thinker," Ligi said.

Kaja Kallas and Jürgen Ligi. Source: Sander Koit / ERR


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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