Mart Laar: Center and EKRE combination comes off pro-Russia

Mart Laar..
Mart Laar.. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Former Isamaa leader and prime minister Mart Laar considers Kaja Kallas and Jüri Ratas creating a government crisis to have been irresponsible but does not support Isamaa working with Center and the Conservative People's Party (EKRE). Laar said that Center and EKRE are not the best combination for Estonia right now as they come off pro-Russia.

Were Mart Laar head of Isamaa today, who would he invite to form a new coalition? Reform Party and the Social Democrats or Center and EKRE?

As honorary chairman of Isamaa, I have never felt the urge to advise the chairman. He will be fine without it.

But ask me what I think about the current situation and I will tell you that the recent conduct of both Kaja Kallas and Jüri Ratas has been utterly irresponsible. It is a special kind of effrontery to throw Estonia into a government crisis seven months before regular elections. But it has happened now, and there is nothing we can do about it.

Secondly, listening to the splendid statement from Jüri Ratas yesterday (Sunday – ed.) on how the EKRE, Isamaa and Center Party coalition and government worked so well, that is not what I saw at the time. I saw it more as the swan, pike and crayfish, with the swan really struggling to rein the others in and point them in the right direction. To be honest, I saw nothing in it that was functional.

And talking about my preferences [for the new coalition], I believe they are reflected in this comment. I believe that the combination of Center and EKRE is not what's best for Estonia at this time. It comes off rather pro-Russia to put it mildly.

You mean to join those saying that Center and EKRE are promoting Putin's agenda in Estonia?

I would not put it quite like that. But their behavior, statements, utterances and attitudes tend to give that impression. And that impression does Estonia no favors.

What should Isamaa ask from Reform in exchange for joining them in a coalition?

I believe the switch to Estonian language education should definitely be one of those demands. The time is favorable. Secondly, some cleanup work is in order on a law that gives citizens of other, including hostile countries the right to vote in local elections. European Union citizens – yes, while the chance should be taken away from citizens of non-EU countries.

Thirdly, we could sort out higher education. The previous government really missed the mark there. National defense spending etc. would also be in there. I would finish with a small reform but one that has been a dream of mine for some time – the digital reform and pruning the bureaucracy tree. So we wouldn't have to close rural area post offices or lay off policemen. But the bureaucratic apparatus is yielding a mountain of harebrained decisions and regulations. And they are costing an arm and a leg. We should also end costly political campaigns, like free public transport.

Are you concerned for Estonia's future?

I am not. Listening to the verbal abuse directed at Estonia from the Kremlin, I am not worried at all. That is the best indication of Estonia being on the right path.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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