Kaja Kallas says calling Riigikogu members 'clowns' was a joke

Kaja Kallas speaking before the Riigikogu.
Kaja Kallas speaking before the Riigikogu. Source: Government Office.

On Wednesday, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform), in response to a question asked in parliament by EKRE leader Martin Helme, said that she was joking when she called the members of the Riigikogu "clowns."

Helme asked Kallas if she would like to apologize to the Riigikogu for referring to its members as "clowns."

"At a public appearance you made, the quote is: 'we have singers in the Riigikogu, but for the most part, I have to say, we have clowns.' As I understand it, you have not been willing to apologize, so I am not going to ask for an apology, but it is always welcome if you would like to apologize, not to me - what do I care - but to the Riigikogu, as an institution and a collective," Helme said.

Helme also asked Kallas to specify, who exactly among the Riigikogu's members, she considers to be clowns.,

"Well, it is clear to everyone that the term 'clown' does not apply to you, because you are so wicked. You know, actually, I think we make too few jokes on a daily basis. If there is an event like this, conducted with humor, where jokes are being made, then politicians are people too, or at least they ought to be," said Kallas.

"I respect good humor and I make jokes. Not everybody laughs all the time, but Riina (Minister of Social Affairs Riina Sikkut (SDE)- ed.), for example, has some really good jokes. She is able to relieve all kinds of tension with a good joke. So again, I recommend you watch the whole video. It was not in any way malicious, it was just a friendly joke, (in which I said) that we have some singers, but unfortunately there are more clowns," the prime minister added.

"Yes, that's what I said, exactly like that. It was not at all meant in a bad way. But it's interesting that you feel so concerned by it, because you're really not joking at all," Kallas added.

Helme responded that it was not customary for a prime minister to use the word "clown" to describe members of the Riigikogu. Helme also protested against the opposition being referred to as "The KGB," "Hitler" and "Putin."

"Kaja Kallas' rhetoric, her jokes, so to speak, are leading us into a totalitarian society, and this really concerns me very deeply. I disagree with it. Once again, I am offering you the opportunity. If this was a failed joke, could you please apologize?"

"If that joke really offended you so much, but you yourself say it was not about you, then I am certainly ready to apologize for that," Kallas replied.

On Monday, Lauri Laats, a member of the Center Party's Riigikogu group, also requested that Prime Minister Kaja Kallas investigate why the head of government had belittled MPs and why she has not publicly apologized for using insulting language.

According to Laats, Kallas overstepped the mark when, in response to questions she was asked at a technology conference on May 26, responded with the following in reference to members of the Riigikogu: 'We do have singers there, but unfortunately, I have to admit that for the most part, there are clowns.'"


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Editor: Michael Cole

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