Eesti 200 leader: Coalition would appoint Ida-Viru County representative

Eesti 200 leader Lauri Hussar talking to ERR's Iida-Mai Einmaa earlier this week.
Eesti 200 leader Lauri Hussar talking to ERR's Iida-Mai Einmaa earlier this week. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The prospective new coalition government will appoint a special representative to Ida-Viru County, the leader of one of the parties involved in the talks announced Tuesday.

Negotiations between the Reform Party, Eesti 200 and the Social Democrats (SDE) are now into their second week, and Eesti 200's leader, former newspaperman Lauri Hussar, told ETV politics show "Esimene stuudio" Tuesday that two things have been agreed on Estonia's easternmost county.

He said: "We agreed on two things in Ida-Viru County. One is the appointment of a special representative to that county.

"This would be a special government representative, who would deal with effectively solving acute problems there, and help Ida-Viru County in every possible way, just as any region facing more challenges than most should be helped."

"The second aspect is creating an Ida-Viru County investment fund, which will contribute to its development," he went on.

Hussar was unable to put a figure on the size of this fund, though, Ida-Viru County is also receiving €340 million from the EU Just Transition Fund. €20 million of this total has already been put to use, as an investment into the creation of a factory making magnets.

Of other topics under discussion, Hussar said that while a balanced state budget was still the goal, the €750 million deficit announced by the Ministry of Finance will not be erased in a year, or two years.

"A comprehensive revision of the state budget must be done and possibly a reform of the state apparatus. We can to agree on the principles during the coalition negotiations," Hussar added, noting that Finn-Swede businessman Joakim Helenius, who may be in line to take up a Riigikogu seat, has calculated that a through state apparatus shakeup, plus the introduction of the principles of a "personalized state" are introduced, this could save around €700 million.

Of 16 total points up for discussion, five had been gone through, Hussar added.

While some topics have been put aside for the time being, due to disagreement between negotiators, Hussar called the overall atmosphere "constructive".

"Unfortunately, I cannot talk about all these issues, as we will return to them," he added.

Hussar also said he had no reason to mistrust Eesti 200 candidate Johanna-Maria Lehtme, who heads up the "Slava Ukraini" NGO.

Hussar: Johanna Maria Lehtme a very dedicated person

The NGO recently hit the headlines over allegations of the misuse of funds it had raised, once they reached Ukraine.

Lehtme won a Riigikogu seat at the March 5 election, polling 5,251 votes in the Haabersti, Põhja-Tallinna and Kristiine electoral district, in Tallinn, while pre-election campaign posters had noted her status as a volunteer helping Ukraine.

Hussar said Lehtme is "A very dedicated person, who has given her time to helping Ukraine for the last 12 months or more. 'Slava Ukraini' has done a great job, and helped thousands and thousands of people in Ukraine," adding that the only facts of the matter known at present are that the organization's board and supervisory board are in the process of auditing the activities of two partner bodies on the ground in Ukraine.

"I would proceed very cautiously, because 'Slava Ukraini' is one of the biggest organizations which has been involved in helping Ukraine, and if their activities are seriously traduced, this will also damage the desire of Estonians to help Ukraine," he went on.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

Source: 'Esimene stuudio', interviewer Johannes Tralla.

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