Three-week foreign trip means Reform MP to miss government confidence vote

Karmen Joller (Reform).
Karmen Joller (Reform). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

A Reform Party MP is on a three-week working trip to the United States and to France. The visit is in part paid for by the hosts, and means the Riigikogu member will be absent from a vote of confidence in the Reform-Eesti 200-SDE government.

Information published by the Riigikogu reveals that the MP, Karmen Joller, is set to take part in high-level training on disinformation in Seattle, Washington, and then right after to attend the Free Iran World Summit in Paris, France.

The trip runs June 10 to July 2 inclusive.

Reform's Riigikogu chief whip Erkki Keldo told ERR that Joller is to take part as Estonia's representative in the U.S. as part of a Ministry of Foreign Affairs-funded initiative to fight against disinformation.

Joller had applied to take part last October, before she was an MP, and informed the Reform Party immediately after opting to run in the March 5 election, Keldo said.

The U.S. embassy also had input into Joller's selection.

"We are dealing with thorough and high-level training, which a total of 18 people selected by the U.S. embassies in the Central and Eastern European and Central Asian regions are involved," Keldo went on.

The MP herself told ERR that she regrets that her being away will mean she will miss an upcoming vote of confidence in the government, which is tied to several tranches of legislation to be processed at an extraordinary session next week.

The Riigikogu officially wound down for summer from Thursday this week.

Joller said: "I am in the U.S. for a high-level training in combating disinformation, which I applied to before entering politics."

"In Estonia, there is no systematic approach to combating disinformation. Various universities, state institutions and also some NGOs (e.g. some medical associations) do fight against disinformation as part of their day-to-day work, but this cooperation is done quite arbitrarily, and relatively scarcely. From the very start, my goal is to return from the training with a vision of how Estonia should combat disinformation."

Joller added that she has already laid the groundwork to cooperation for instance between the Baltic states, and had set up a Riigikogu support group aimed at mitigating disinformation.

Joller also said she also fully backed the government of Kaja Kallas.

Riigikogu spokesperson Karin Kangro told ERR that the U.S. State Department program has covered the cost of accommodation and flights for the U.S. portion of Joller's working trip.

Joller has also applied for expenses from those allowances allocated to Riigikogu MPs.

The Seattle training sessions are already underway, while the Paris conference runs June 30-July 1.

Karmen Joller is a medical doctor who rose to prominence during the Covid pandemic.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

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