President's office director: No horse trading on legislation assent

Peep Jahilo.
Peep Jahilo. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The Director of the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, Peep Jahilo, says that the office which he heads up does not, and has not ever, made the promulgation of legislation which has passed at the Riigikogu contingent on the president's office obtaining additional funding, over and above that set out in the state budget.

In a statement issued Monday, Jahilo said: "Decisions on promulgating legislation lies within the sole competence of the President of the Republic. No one else, including any official from the president's office, can make these decisions on behalf of the head of state."

Jahilo says that questions from the president's office on whether additional funding might be forthcoming for 2023 given soaring costs and in support of the president's role in foreign relations, were put to the finance minister in spring.

The fact that these coincided with several laws being processed at the same time at the Riigikogu was just that, a coincidence, Jahilo said.

While the finance minister said at the time no supplementary budget for 2023 would be granted to the president's office, the head of state promulgated laws passed at the Riigikogu, in line with his constitutional role, precisely because they were in line with that Constitution, Jahilo said, noting that the president did not take advantage of a 14-day period, as prescribed by law, in which to do this.

Nonetheless, Jahilo added, there should be "no exuberant playfulness or use of irony as a rhetorical device," in day-to-day communication between his office and that of the government and with politicians generally, lest this tone be misinterpreted.

Jahilo reiterated that the sole criterion on which laws are given presidential assent, and thus pass into effect, is that they are in line with the Estonian Constitution.

"There is not and cannot be any other justification," he added.

"I consider hard work and trustful cooperation from the President of the Republic and his office with the other constitutional institutions to be vital. There is one state, Estonia, that we all serve," Jahilo concluded.

Daily Postimees reported Friday that the president' suffice and the coalition government had had a spat over the issue of an additional €360,000 which Jahilo, as head of the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, had requested by way of a top up for this year, a request which was ultimately denied.

Ensuing communications saw a link forming between granting that money, and giving assent to bills which were then being debated at the Riigikogu, a claim which the president's office strongly denies.

The president has had to cancel or at least postpone a planned official visit to Australia, citing funding issues.

The head of state has also been critical of the planned car tax, as announced by the coalition government after it entered office, and currently at planning stage.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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