Prime minister declines call to apologize over opposition Russia remarks

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) at question time at the Riigikogu, Wednesday, May 17, 2023.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) at question time at the Riigikogu, Wednesday, May 17, 2023. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) has rejected a call from an opposition MP to apologize over remarks she made on the radio Tuesday in which she likened the actions of the three opposition parties to those of the Russian Federation in the period leading up to the invasion of Ukraine, particularly with regard to Russia's stance towards the West.

Answering Center Party chief whip Tanel Kiik at the Riigikogu Wednesday, Kallas said: "I compared your negotiation tactics with the tactics used by Russia before the war in Ukraine."

"In the same way, journalists had been asking me what the West should do in order to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine. Look, the West has not created this situation in Ukraine, so in the same way, the situation does not exist here, one where the Riigikogu cannot process laws, which has been created by the coalition. Yes, you can obstruct specific laws and submit amendments, that we can discuss, but at the moment, you are demanding a right that the opposition has never had," she continued.

The prime minister and government ministers do not sit at the Riigikogu, but regularly appear there, for instance at question time, which is what was taking place Wednesday.

Tanel Kiik had asked Kallas if she intends to apologize over the statement likening his party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa, to the Russian regime in the lead-in to the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Kallas reiterated the statements she had made to Vikkeraadio Tuesday, following a filibuster conducted by the opposition which is now in its second week.

The negotiating tactics used were precisely the same used by Russia towards western states ahead of the current conflict, she went on.

"You are threatening the Riigikogu and holding it hostage in saying that you will not allow a government representative to introduce bills which emanated from the government, while you want us to sit down with you to agree with you which bills we will bring [to the Riigikogu] and which not. This is not the form of democracy that we have in Estonia," the prime minister continued.

"I haven't compared the opposition itself to Russia, but the negotiation tactic you have been using. This is the same KGB negotiation tactic, precisely the same," Kallas concluded.

The head of government had made her original remarks on the Vikerraadio show "Stuudios on peaminister", on Tuesday. In the same interview, she also drew a parallel with the neutering of the legislature in 1930s Germany.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

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