42 MPs initiate no-confidence motion in economic affairs minister

Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Riina Sikkut (SDE).
Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Riina Sikkut (SDE). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Forty-two Riigikogu MPs initiated a promised vote of no-confidence in Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Riina Sikkut (SDE), following a vessel bringing Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) heading for Finland, rather than Estonia, ahead of the coming winter.

The motion of no-confidence at the 101-seat Riigikogu was handed over by the opposition Center Party chief whip Jaanus Karilaid, who expressed his hopes that in addition to MPs from his party and from the other party in opposition, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), as well as from former Isamaa and now Parempoolsed MP Siim Kiisler, as well as Isamaa MPs who are not satisfied with the way things are going, will support the motion.

Karilaid said that Sikkut has lost confidence as a minister namely due to acting inconsistently and incompetently in connection with bringing a Floating Re-gassification Storage Unit (FRSU) vessel carrying LNG to the port of Paldiski, with it ensuring the security of supply of LNG to Estonia.

Karilaid said: "Only on September 29 did she give a message via the national broadcaster that bringing the LNG ship to Estonia was a priority. Twelve days later she also gave a message via national broadcaster ERR that she had already been aware on July 18 that the LNG ship would not be coming to Estonia. At the same time, 10 days later, ie. on July 28, the government produced a €38-million guarantee for the construction of the terminal quay. Ministers must fulfill their duties honestly, and in the interests of the country,."

The motion is the first to be brought against the current coalition since it entered office in mid-July.

Sikkut's predecessor as minister, Taavi Aas (Center), was involved in the earlier stages of the construction of the berth, at Paldiski.

While the FRSU will sail for Inkoo, off the south coast of Finland, the trans-Gulf of Finland gas pipeline, Balticconnector, connects the two countries and re-gassified LNG can flow through it to Estonia.

The changed security situation has necessitated both countries wean themselves off the use of Russian natural gas supplies, while in Finland's case the Russians made the decision for them, by switching off supply during the summer.

The motion would need a straight majority to pass at the 101-seat Riigikogu.

The Reform/SDE/Isamaa alliance which Sikkut is a part of has 55 seats (Reform: 34, Isamaa: 11, SDE: 10) at the 101-seat chamber, meaning four or more MPs would need to dissent and vote in favor of the motion, assuming all Center and EKRE MPs vote for it also.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Urmet Kook

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