Siim Kallas: President Karis should not take sides or interfere in politics

President Alar Karis, whose primary function is a constitutional guardian and interpreter, has chosen a slippery slope in getting involved in politics, according to veteran Reform Party member and politician Siim Kallas.

Speaking to agricultural weekly Maaleht (link in Estonian), Kallas, prime minister in the early 2000s, said that since the office of the president of Estonia is a symbolic one lying somewhere inside the legislature, executive and judiciary triumvirate, President Karis' interference in political processes is a regrettable one.

"It's a slippery road, because at some point he makes mistakes. And the fact that he intervenes means that he makes choices, but he shouldn't," said Kallas and asked: "Is he now on the side of the opposition?"

"This is a slippery slope, as at some point he will commit errors – and his intervention means he makes choices, when he shouldn't," Kallas said, adding "is he now on the opposition's side?"

"The president's function is to interpret the Constitution, but he doesn't do that, he makes choices of a political nature.

"This will get more difficult for him, after some time passes," Kallas went on.

Kallas said that statements the head of state made in the summer were fundamentally wrong, without elaborating.

The original Maaleht piece is here.

President Karis did in late June express concern over what he called an excessive reliance on Riigikogu motions of no confidence on the part of the government, at a time when government-drafted legislation was subject to a filibuster by the opposition. Last month, he said that ideally current Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform), facing controversy over her husband's business activities including logistics operations in Russia, could have resigned over the matter.

Siim Kallas, since 2019 an MP at the Riigikogu, said that he has no regrets about not being Estonia's head of state, adding he is more executive power-oriented..

He ran for president in 2016, finishing second in the initial, inconclusive Riigikogu ballot and fourth in the subsequent electoral college vote, which also drew a blank; the eventual victor, Kersti Kaljulaid, was voted in by the Riigikogu's council of elders, comprising the speaker and their two deputies, and the chief whips of each political party.

Kallas was active in politics at the time Estonia became independent and had been part of Estonian delegations which visited the Kremlin during that time; he has served as a European Commissioner across three different stints and portfolios, most recently as the commissioner for transport, 2010-2014. He was also mayor of Viimsi municipality, just outside Tallinn, 2017-2019.

He is the father of the current prime minister.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Maaleht

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