Minister: Stark Logistics saga post mortem up to Kaja Kallas and her party

Margus Tsahkna.
Margus Tsahkna. Source: Jürgen Randma/Government Office

The recent controversy to have engulfed Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) concerning her husband's ties to a company doing business in Russia can be resolved, but needs open discussion, Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) said Thursday.

Both the prime minister and the Reform Party must now deal with issues of moral and political responsibility, the minister added.

Speaking at the regular government press conference Thursday, Tsahkna said: "Doing business with Russia, which one way or another will contribute to the Russian war machine or the operation of Putin's regime, is wrong, morally speaking. This means the debate here in Estonia, which has erupted amid one specific case, is certainly unfortunate and uncomfortable for all of us, and especially I think for the Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, but we have to forge ahead through it."

"Speaking openly about what has happened, what has not happened, who has been involved in what role and whether anything has been violated or not, is all needed," Tsahkna said.

"But politics always comes with political and moral responsibility. And if these questions are ever reached, then in this particular case then both Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and the Reform Party itself can answer these questions at some point," the minister added.

Tsahkna said the media, too, had its part to play here.

"If someone has done something really quite wrong, if someone is seriously mistaken about something, then these things need to be pointed out. But we have to treat this matter exactly as it is," the foreign minister added, somewhat cryptically.

Clarification is required first, followed by assessment, on the part of Kallas and her party, Tsahkna summarized.

Minister for Regional Affairs Madis Kallas (SDE) was much more circumspect, saying that Prime Minister Kallas (no relation – ed.) had provided the cabinet with a strong overview of what had happened and what the state of play currently is, at the regular morning meeting which precedes the press conference.

"As of now, on behalf of the Social Democrats I can say that, based on today's information, we do not have any additional questions for the prime minister," he said.

"Presumably, this discussion will continue within society. Certainly these firms (Stark Logistics and Metaprint – ed.) can provide their additional comment. And if there is something else that the Social Democrats, as a coalition partner, also can answer, we are certainly ready to answer."

"Hopefully this won't hinder our cooperation in any way, and we can go on with our business," he added.

Foreign minister Tsahkna added that there was no danger of a shift in foreign policy or the international perception of Estonia's foreign policy, as a result of the saga.

"Estonia's foreign policy image has been built up over the course of 32 years. It's not like everything is going to collapse somehow," Tsahkna said.

He added that there are plenty of people out there wanting to seize on the story and make of it what they want, including for malicious reasons, and not only in Russia.

"My contention is that Estonia projects our image primarily in what we do, and we actually do very big things," he added.

Tsahkna also praised Kaja Kalla for her openness and persistence, "though all questions must be answered," he added.

As reported by ERR, a company which the prime minister's husband, Arvo Hallik, owns a 24.8 percent stake in, has been providing logistics – hauling freight in other words – to Russia, right up to the present, on behalf of one client, also an Estonian firm.

The firm in question, Metaprint, makes aerosol cans and other metal containers, and has facilities in Estonia and in the Netherlands.

The prime minister had also loaned her husband €350,000, ostensibly for investment purposes, and reportedly for a residential property's construction.

The loan was provided to Novaria Consult OÜ, Hallik's company, through which he holds his stake in Stark Logistics.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krujkov

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