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Kaja Kallas not attending president's Independence Day reception

Kristina Kallas and Kaja Kallas.
Kristina Kallas and Kaja Kallas. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said she will not attend the annual Independence Day reception this year after President Alar Karis broke with tradition and decided not to invite all 101 Riigikogu members.

On Tuesday, Kallas told Vikerraadio show "Stuudios on peaminister" she was unsure whether she would attend the president's reception on February 24.

But at the government's weekly press conference on Thursday, Kallas said she would not be attending. "I'm not going, out of solidarity," the prime minister said.

"Parliament elects both the prime minister and the president, and whether or not you directly like the members of parliament is irrelevant to the fact that this is the Anniversary of the Republic, when the constitutional institutions, the members of parliament, I think, are also important," Kallas said.

Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev (Reform) said he does plan to attend the reception.

"Why the president has made this decision, is up to him to have to justify. I don't think it is right but this is the Anniversary of the Republic of Estonia's. It's a party for all of us and I'm going there primarily to celebrate this anniversary," Võrklaev said.

Minister of Health Riina Sikkut (SDE) said that she too, is still planning to attend the reception. "I'm actually surprised at how much criticism the president's choices have received. The members of the Riigikogu have been given a mandate to do their work in the Riigikogu and pass laws," said Sikkut.

"Whatever events they participate in, including when the flag is hoisted at sunrise on the morning of the Anniversary of the Republic above Pikk Hermann Tower and the Riigikogu Speaker is received in the Riigikogu, this important day can be celebrated by all Estonian people, including the members of the Riigikogu. The president is free to decide how he celebrates, who he invites to the party. I also think it would be appropriate to invite 800 teachers, members of the government do not have to be present," said Sikkut.

Minister of Education Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200) is also surprised by the attention the president's decision has attracted. She said she had received an invitation but will be in Poland at that time for an important family event.

A number of Riigikogu MPs have voiced their displeasure at 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 on Feburary 24. As a result, the majority of MPs will not be able to attend.

Traditionally, Riigikogu members have been invited to the annual event.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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