Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) told Vikerraadio's program that the press has paid far less attention to former President Kersti Kaljulaid's post on the executive board of Alexela, a company that imports fuel from Russia, than to her husband's business connections with Russia.
Comparing Kaljulaid's position on Alexela's board to her husband Arvo Hallik's stake in a company that did business in Russia, Kallas said that the press could apply the same standards to different cases involving politicians and that Kaljulaid's involvement in Alexela's board received disproportionately little attention.
"If moral standards apply to one person, they should also apply to the others. The way in which my situation and that of Kersti Kaljulaid is handled is illustrative, however; these approaches are entirely different. When Mrs. Kaljulaid joined the Alexela Board, it had been reported for a full year that Alexela imports hydrocarbons from Russia. Even so, she joined that board. Even after a very detailed article was published in mid-June [in Eesti Päevaleht], there was no outcry that the former president was involved in the decision-making processes of a company that, according to the press, was importing fuel from Russia and aiding the Russian military machine," Kallas said.
Former President Kersti Kaljulaid, who joined the board in April of this year, announced last week that the company had purchased LPG produced in Russia during the summer due to supply issues. Since she is unwilling to conduct business with Russia, she has submitted her resignation from the executive board.
It is noteworthy, according to Kallas, that Kaljulaid did not resign from the board after mid-June, when a newspaper article about Alexela first appeared.
"It is interesting to me that you [the critics] do not ask as to when she first learned about the Russian imports. On June 19, there was an extensive, in-depth article about Alexela, according to press reports," Kallas said.
"What I mean is that I'm being crucified because of my husband's business partner's activities, yet the former president is being treated differently, while she's the CEO of a company. /.../ You never asked [Kaljulaid] how is it conceivable that a member of the company's executive board read in the press on September 26 that Alexela is still operating in Russia and importing fuel, when there was a very thorough article about this in the daily Päevaleht on June 19," she said.
According to Kallas, Kaljulaid resigned from Alexela's board following the recent press reports not because she discovered her moral compass, but probably because Kaljulaid has forward-looking political thoughts.
Kallas again admitted that she had a conversation with Kaljulaid, in which she invited her to join the Reform Party.
"The only position in which Kersti Kaljulaid is genuinely interested is that of NATO secretary general, as she mentioned herself. However, I am not in a position to offer such a post," Kallas said.
Kallas said that the Estonian press has attacked her more fiercely than any other Estonian politician; she singled out former Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) as in particular being a favorite of the program's two hosts, Arp Müller and Miri Ojakivi.
Editor: Kristina Kersa
Source: "Stuudios on peaminister", interviewed by Arp Müller and Mirko Ojakivi