Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) answered questions to journalists from major news publications in Estonia following a meeting of the coalition council on Monday, questions which focused on the furor over her husband's business links to a firm which has been exporting manufactured items to Russia.
The prime minister's answers to ERR are here, while those to other journalists are as follows (questions in bold).
Journalist: Isn't it in your best interests to resolve this situation quickly?
Prime Minister: For this reason I hope that the members of the Riigikogu; opposition politicians, since they have stated and threatened that they will issue a motion of no confidence in me, might do so. Then I would also be able understand what exactly they are charging me with, and I would be able to answer all these questions in front of the Riigikogu, which is also a completely public session. Then this topic can be dropped, while MPs also get to express their views, via a vote.
So you don't understand precisely what it is you are being accused of?
You can ask me about moral judgments, and I have given such moral judgments. As was the case before, so it is now; I feel exactly the same way about it. All activity in and with Russia must halt. Each and every company must find its own moral compass, in order to achieve this.
I am not personally engaged in business, I work as the Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia. And what have I been wrong in as the Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia, this is the question that will probably arise from this motion of no confidence.
When you visited Metaprint (in January 2022 ed.) were you unaware your husband's company was involved?
I knew that my husband's business partner is a shareholder in Metaprint. Of course I was aware of that; we have met. But given all the companies I visit with, there's no way to say that if I'm presented with a slideshow , I'm somehow responsible for that. That would mean that I couldn't go to visit firms any more, lest I end up unaware of what I can end up being accused of.
You did say your husband sold the business for a peppercorn sum (in Estonian "for the price of a sandwich" – ed.). What did you mean by that?
That it was sold cheaper than the value of this holding.
How much cheaper?
This is none of your business.
How much have you had to report to foreign colleagues regarding this saga?
Foreign colleagues have been very supportive, everyone has sent messages along the lines of hang in there, we support you, we need you. These are the messages that have come from abroad.
The president's statement is that such activity in relation to Russia also calls into question the credibility of Estonia. In your opinion, to what extent is Estonia's credibility currently in doubt?
The credibility of Estonia is not in any doubt.
You said you had had nothing to do with your husband's business, and yet you gave a loan to him.
Look, these concern two different companies. I gave the loan to my husband's financial holding company (Novaria Consult – ed.). I didn't obtain any equity for that loan, I gave the loan to his financial holding company. The annual reports from this financial holding company are public. You can see where the money has gone to, so there is nothing to hide.
Was this loan related to the construction of a house?
I gave the loan to a financial holding company which is not engaged in the business of building any houses at all. (Arvo Hallik had previously told in an interview to ERR that the loan was planned to be used for the construction of a residential house in Kuusalu municipality, to the East of Tallinn – ed.).
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov