Estonian president: Prime minister has to answer unpleasant questions too

Estonian President Alar Karis and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform).
Estonian President Alar Karis and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) has to answer unpleasant questions as well, and she must also do so before a Riigikogu committee, regardless of whether that committee is led by an opposition or coalition MP, President Alar Karis said in a statement issued via the Office of the President on Monday morning.

ERR News is publishing the Estonian president's latest statement in full.

One of the tasks of the President of the Republic and members of the government is to maintain Estonia's internal stability as well as the state's domestic and foreign political credibility.

The imposing of economic sanctions on Russia, which is waging a war of conquest in Ukraine, is part of the EU's common policy to stifle the aggressor. Estonia has been one of the drivers of [this] sanctions policy.

Over the past year and a half — since February 24, 2022 — many companies doing business in Russia pulled out of that business on moral grounds. They did the right thing so as not to be associated with the aggressor state and its economic lifeblood.

But we know that not everyone in Europe has done so. In Estonia either. In the case of certain companies, this calls the credibility of the Estonian state into question in relations with our allies.

The Russian business activity of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas' family member has raised a lot of questions in the media and society, and put the spotlight in this story on the head of government and the values on which Estonia is based.

It is also the job of government politicians to answer questions when they arise. And to also do so before a Riigikogu committee, regardless of whether that committee is led by a representative of the opposition or coalition. And especially when it comes to difficult and unpleasant issues, as is appropriate and necessary in a normal parliamentary state — necessary for the functioning of democracy.

Choices that leave the Riigikogu out in this situation create a precedent for the future and shape the reputation of Estonian democracy.

Estonia is a parliamentary state, which demands respect from all of us of the representative assembly elected by the people.

The prime minister has told the public that she does not intend to resign. The head of government's next steps will demonstrate how serious she considers the issue to have arisen to be and what she believes is the right solution for the Estonian state.

Of course, the government coalition parties have an important role to play as well — the Reform Party, Eesti 200, the Social Democrats (SDE).

As president, I must emphasize that Estonia needs a functioning government based on internal trust.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas declined to attend a sitting of the Riigikogu State Budget Control Select Committee on Monday — where she was expected to comment on presidential office funding — marking her second refusal to do so, ERR reported Monday morning.

The Estonian head of government is slated to appear at a sitting of the Anti-Corruption Select Committee on Tuesday morning focused on continuing to do business in Russia during the latter's ongoing war in Ukraine.

Last Wednesday, ERR reported that a transport company partially owned by Kallas' spouse Arvo Hallik has continued to operate in Russia following the latter's full-scale invasion of Ukraine last February.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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