Isamaa leader: Reform are to blame for coalition talks impasse, not us

Helir-Valdor Seeder and Kaja Kallas.
Helir-Valdor Seeder and Kaja Kallas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Reform Party and its leader, Kaja Kallas, are to blame for the current stalemate on coalition talks, Isamaa leader Helir-Valdor Seeder, whose party is involved in the talks, said on Thursday, adding that Kallas had even 'spread lies' about Isamaa's actions in relation to the talks. Reform had also failed to provide any concrete proposals or solutions, he said.

Speaking to ERR Thursday, Seeder hit back at comments Reform leader and prime minister Kaja Kallas had made earlier in the day to radio show "Vikerhommik", to the effect that Isamaa was leery about entering office when times were hard, while at the same time had refused to budge on any of its key demands going in to the talks, now in their third week.

Seeder said: "Such emotional statements in public surely do not promote a good negotiation climate, and do not cultivate a good negotiation culture in any way, when these types of half-truths, accusations and even lies are spread via the media."

This could mean that compromise will never be made, Seeder hinted.

"It seems that we are fundamentally different, especially with regard to the Reform Party, regarding the formation of a new government," Seeder went on. The third party in the talks is the opposition Social Democrats (SDE).

Seeder lay the blame for the impasse firmly at Reform's door and pressed into action an Estonian folk aphorism, saying that the party and its leader had "spat into the old well before the new one was ready" ("Sülitas enne vanasse kaevu kui uus valmis oli").

Furthermore, Reform wants essentially a continuation of the previous administration, at least so far as policy goes, Seedeer added, and has nothing to say in regard to Isamaa's proposals on boosting family support, or even on Estonian-language education (which by their core principles both parties should be on the same page with – ed.) nor has come up with any good proposals of its own.

Seeder added that this was merely his response to Kallas' words earlier, adding that the party is open to other offers.

The means by which the coalition negotiations came about, with Reform ruling in isolation for nearly a month now since the dismissal of the Center Party ministers, merely prolonged things for Reform and did not provide a shelf life for the current set up.

Neither Reform nor SDE have come up with good ideas ahead of the next autumn and winter and the likely high energy prices either, Seeder said, also hitting out at SDE's leader, Lauri Läänemets, who had suggested Isamaa had switched the main focus of talks to Estonian education instead of the energy crisis, which had been on the agenda. Seeder said that the education talks had simply overrun, meaning the energy topic would need to be returned to later.

Seeder: Reform could have waited on Tallinn Hospital decision

Seeder also said that Reform ought to have waited until a new national coalition was in place before pulling funding for a proposed Tallinn Hospital, including funding of EU origin, saying that the European Commission would have waited and that a decision was not urgent.

This would also have engendered a more optimistic mood in the coalition negotiations, he said.

Given the soaring construction prices, for instance, he did not condemn the decision itself, however, simply the timing.

"The state cannot allocate money everywhere indefinitely, and there is no possibility of printing more money, and as we can see, printing more money is not a solution anywhere in the long term," he said, noting that the proposed hospital, a pet project of the Center-led Tallinn city government, had to compete with several other important entries including national defense and security, and the energy crisis.

While SDE accepted Reform's offer for talks within 24 hours of it being made on June 3, it took Isamaa a full week or more to do the same. The party had also had an offer for talks from Center and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE).

The Riigikogu summer recess, the midsummer holiday and Kaja Kallas high-level visits to Brussels and, this week, to Madrid, for the NATO summit, have also had the ostensible effect of delaying things.

A national conservative party, Isamaa has in a broad sense some similar free-market philosophies to Reform, though hotly debates the detailed nuances of these areas. Isamaa's showcase policy from the last administration it was in, with Center and EKRE, resulted in the liberalization of the national pension system.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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