Ratas would attend Reinsalu's proposed meeting of party leaders

Jüri Ratas (left) and Urmas Reinsalu at a government press conference when they were in office during the last administration.
Jüri Ratas (left) and Urmas Reinsalu at a government press conference when they were in office during the last administration. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Center Party chair Jüri Ratas said he would be prepared take part in a meeting of party leaders, after the idea was put forward by Isamaa chair Urmas Reinsalu on Tuesday. The aim of the meeting would be to restore the working capacity of the Riigikogu.

"I would certainly support a meeting of party chairs during the political impasse we are in. It is a question of when exactly this meeting will take place and how it will suit the chairs," Ratas told ERR on Tuesday.

Isamaa chair Urmas Reinsalu issued a statement on Tuesday saying that discussions during the summer among the leaders of the different parliamentary groups related to the organization of work in the Riigikogu this fall had not proved fruitful. Reinsalu therefore called on the party leaders to meet next week in order to resolve the dispute.

In an interview with ERR, Jüri Ratas said that Riigikogu speaker and Eesti 200 chair Lauri Hussar, has so far failed to find a way to resolve the deadlock.

Ratas also said, that despite suggestions Hussar has held meetings with party leaders, he has not been involved in any discussions with the Eesti 200 leader.

"The last time we discussed it was before the opinion festival. At that time, the Riigikogu speaker said he would try to talk to the party leaders during the opinion festival, regarding when this kind of meeting might take place. Well, I didn't take part in that conversation at least. I don't know if it took place at all."

Center would agree to withdraw questions.

Ratas went on to say, that the Center Party would be prepared to withdraw identical questions it had addressed to several government ministers in response to the coalition.

At a time of economic downturn and worsening livelihoods, Ratas said his party would like the government not to make things worse for poorer people by raising taxes. On the contrary, it ought to be prepared to support people once more when energy and heating prices rise, as they have done over the last two winters.

Ratas also expressed hope that the much-discussed car tax would not be introduced, or that if it is,  the coalition would at least be able to reach a compromise regarding its content with the opposition.

 "Steps like these, for which no mandate was really requested from the voters, are being taken. When it comes to these steps, the coalition has to find a compromise, not only on the technical side, but also in terms of the substance. /---/ This would certainly mean discussing the issue with the opposition."

At the same time, Ratas refrained from outlining strict conditions. "If all six parties come with their demands clearly carved into concrete slabs, then this Riigikogu will not move an inch," he said.

Reinsalu: Stand-off requires decision of party leaders

In his address, Reinsalu said that the current stand-off is a fundamental one and therefore the discussion on how to overcome it must take place at the political level. That is, at the level of party leaders.

"Earlier proposals to this end have remained vague. I am therefore making a specific proposal to meet at the level of party chairs and discuss the political stand-off next week. I propose an indicative time of August 29 at 12 noon. If there is substantive willingness to discuss things, then we can find a suitable time," Reinsalu wrote.

However, Martin Helme, who chairs EKRE, the largest opposition party, will not be able to attend the meeting on August 29, as he is reported to be abroad at the time.

The  Riigikogu's fall session begins on Monday, September 11.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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