Despite Prime Minister Kaja Kallas' (Reform) hesitation about attending this year's Anniversary of the Republic reception, Reform Party MPs who have received invitations will decide for themselves whether to attend.
Speaking on Vikeraadio show "Stuudios on peaminister," Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said that she is concerned by President Alar Karis' decision not to invite the majority of Riigikogu members to next month's Anniversary of the Republic reception.
Erkki Keldo, Reform's Rigikogu chief whip, said the prime minister's speech had sparked a debate among the party's parliamentary group. However, no final decision had been reached on the issue. "It's up to each Riigikogu member, who has received an invitation, to decide whether they can go," Keldo told ERR.
"I can understand that Kaja Kallas and many other MPs are wondering what the reason is for changing a tradition that has been going on for decades," he added.
Jürgen Ligi (Reform), who criticized the president's decision on social media last week, said he is not considering non-attendance of the reception.
"I am very critical of the demeaning of this institution, but I am not basing this on personal choice. I have received an invitation, and I think it is the national duty for both the person inviting and the one who is invited, unless there is a very clear reason," Ligi said.
"It has been very ugly this public gloating about how members of parliament cannot 'go to the party.' This is not a case of disappointment on their part as individuals, it is a disappointment that the institution is being demeaned and both actions – attending and not attending – are appropriate ways to indicate this," he added.
Following President Alar Karis' decision to invite only the Riigikogu leadership along with party leaders, chairs and vice-chairs of Riigikogu committees and leaders of the Riigikogu groups to the reception marking the Anniversary of the Republic. As a result, the number of Reform Party MPs who have been invited is nine.
This year's Anniversary of the Republic reception will take place on February 24 at Tallinn's Estonia Theater and Concert Hall, with Jaan-Eik Tulve as artistic director and Maria Peterson as stage director.
Traditionally, people from many walks of life have been invited to the reception, including, for example, cultural and sporting personalities who have distinguished themselves over the past year, promoters of education, mental health advocates, social activists, politicians, civil servants and ambassadors accredited to Estonia.
Editor: Michael Cole