Reinsalu: Allegation of improper conduct by president's office very serious

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Kadriorg Palace.
Kadriorg Palace. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERRR

Isamaa party chair Urmas Reinsalu said that the allegation that the president's office linked its request for additional funding to the promulgation of bills passed by the Riigikogu is very serious and must be investigated.

Postimees wrote (link in Estonian) on Friday that the government has fallen out with President Alar Karis.

Peep Jahilo, the head of the Office of the President, approached the minister of finance in May and requested an additional €360,000 from the government's reserves. This was followed by conversations and phone calls in which the request for funds made by the Office of the President was linked to the promulgation of the bills passed by the Riigikogu at the same time.

A minister confirmed to the publication that a senior official in the Office of the President made these statements, which ultimately reached Finance Minister Mart Võrklaev (Reform) and the government.

"Absolutely unprecedented and scandalous", the anonymous minister said.

The daily Postimees drew attention to the situation in which two concerns collided: the president's office had a problem and expected additional funds from the government reserve, while the government had a problem with filibustering and expected spring legislation to be promulgated without hassle.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said that no one had these conversations with her, but she was aware of them.

Toomas Sildam, advisor to the president, refuted claims that the president's office had made an inappropriate suggestion. "It is sad, to be honest, that someone gives such an interpretation to the discussion that did not have any 'you-for-me' proposal in it," he said in the comment to Delfi (link in Estonian).

"It is very sad that someone assigns such meanings to conversations; at the same time I am absolutely sure that these interpretations are not malicious, but that the person was mistaken," Sildam said.

Sildam said the president's office did not initiate any connection between the request for money and the bills to be passed; on the one hand, it was discussed whether it was possible to secure additional funds for this year and, on the other hand, these were very tense times in the Riigikogu, which were also discussed as standard communication between the two institutions. "The only thing that unites them is the time period," he said.

"The president bases his promulgation or rejection of laws solely on the Constitution and, clearly, not on the budget of the president's office," Sildam said.

Isamaa chairman Urmas Reinsalu wrote on social media that the government representatives' allegations were very serious.

"In substance, it was said that the president's representative pressed for additional funds for the president's budget for the promulgation of the spring laws that were pushed through the parliament," he said.

"The prime minister claims to have been aware of this, the finance minister has known about this and the source is yet another, anonymous, minister. Such serious allegations need to be made unambiguously clear."

He said that answers have to be given to whether what was described happened, why it was kept quiet, why it was leaked to the media the day after the president's criticism of the car tax, whether there was no blackmail, whether these accusations were thrown out for other reasons and on what grounds, and who are these country's anonymous power holders.

Reinsalu said that the president's capacity to carry out his responsibilities if the visits are canceled is a separate issue. The government is implying that money is not being used sparingly, but is this in fact true?

"There needs to be parliamentary scrutiny of this case. It is a question of the rule of law," the party leader said.

This article has been updated to include comments from the Office of the President.


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Editor: Karin Koppel, Kristina Kersa

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