Ossinovski: SDE can do nothing to help prime minister restore confidence

Jevgeni Ossinovski.
Jevgeni Ossinovski. Source: Priit Mürk / ERR

The credibility of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) has certainly suffered due to husband's business activities in Russia, However, restoring that credibility is in the hands of Kallas and the Reform Party, said Social Democratic Party (SDE) whip Jevgeni Ossinovski.

Ossinovski echoed the words of SDE leader and Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets, on Wednesday when he said the prime minister has to restore public confidence. "And I hope she will succeed," Ossinovski added.

"For a member of the government, credibility is the basis of all their work, and [for Kallas] this has undoubtedly suffered. There is the overriding question of whether the prime minister has, morally, applied a double standard in relation to doing business in Russia. And then there is the question of whether she knew, or should have known, that her husband was engaged in this kind of business. These are questions that she is trying to answer," Ossinovski said.

However, Ossinovski did not say what he would do if he were in Kallas' shoes or whether he believes the prime minister should resign.

"My personal position at the moment is not something I want to express. I think that at the moment we are at the stage where the prime minister has to have the opportunity to defend herself from the accusations and to respond to them. We have to give her that time," the SDE whip said. However, Ossinovski did not specify how long the prime minister should be given to do so.

Ossinovski said that the SDE leadership had discussed the Kallas issue during a meeting and were concerned about the situation.

"Of course, this issue has been discussed in every political party. And, of course, the Social Democratic Party also discussed it during our leadership meeting. We have a political group that has met and discussed this issue. We are concerned, and it has been clear from the positions expressed by various members of our party in public that we are concerned about the situation," Ossinovski said.

Ossinovski added that the SDE's cooperation as part of the government with fellow coalition members the Reform Party and the Eesti 200 is otherwise going well. "We have an ambitious coalition agreement and we want to do the job, however the crisis concerning the identity of the prime minister is certainly a problem in this respect at the moment, and we hope that the prime minister will manage to solve it," Ossinovski said.

"On the other hand, the situation is that it is up to the prime minister to resolve this crisis. It concerns her, and we cannot help in any way. We are waiting for her to provide extensive answers to the questions that have rightly been raised by the public, so we can get on with our job. But, it's up to her," Ossinovski said.

Ossinovski added that there are also members of the SDE leadership who think Kallas should resign as prime minister.

Ossinovski against creating investigative committee

There have been plenty of calls from Riigikogu members for the establishment of a separate committee of inquiry to investigate Kallas' activities. Ossinovski however, is not in favor.

"My fundamental position as a committed parliamentarian is that a member of the government has to be accountable to the Riigikogu for his or her activities, and of course the prime minister has to attend those parliamentary formats to which he or she is summoned to report. There has now been one meeting of this type and there may be more. If there are more, then of course the prime minister will have to give answers. However, the creation of a separate committee of investigation, in my view, would not contribute anything to the matter," Ossinovski said.

"My experience with previous experiences of a similar kind is that there are no new objective facts that could shed light on the matter, which, as a general rule, commissions of this type could provide us with," he added.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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