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Kaja Kallas: No matter what I do, it's wrong

Kaja Kallas.
Kaja Kallas. Source: Anna Pavlenko/Raadio 4

In an interview with Radio 4, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) explained her decision not to attend the President's Independence Day reception, stating that any decision she would have taken would be interpreted negatively by the general public.

"The members of the Riigikogu are also a constitutional body. And if the president decides that he will not invite members of the Riigikogu, but only certain people, selectively, then questions arise," she explained, in regard to her decision not to attend the Republic's anniversary reception.

Kallas, who is also the leader of the Reform Party, said that she was going to attend the event but deemed it inappropriate in light of the response.

The anchor quoted newspaper editorials saying Kallas found an excuse not to go to the reception to avoid embarrassing her husband, who caused one of last year's biggest political scandals over his business dealings with Russia.

Kallas replied that this was not true because she had planned to go to a reception and that that scandal was never an issue. "But now that I saw the derogatory comments about my husband, I'm wondering what the journalists were planning for him at the president's reception. No matter what I do, it's wrong. If I go, it's wrong; if I don't go, it's wrong. There is only one solution to every problem, or more precisely, one culprit."

The anchor also asked about the interview with The Times newspaper in which Kallas said that Europe needs to boost its security in preparation for Russia's potential attack to NATO's eastern flank within the next three to five years.

"You're using the ERR translation again (the ERR translation was correct, but the Times changed its later online version of the article to reflect this change – ed). Actually, I didn't say 'eastern flank,' I said NATO. So I was not talking about Estonia, I was not talking about NATO's eastern flank. I was talking about NATO as a whole," she clarified.

Why does it matter, according to Kallas, and why should it make a difference?

"The difference is precisely that if some NATO countries think that Russia is a threat but not to them, that is not really the case. NATO is only as strong as each NATO country is. And every NATO country has to start investing more in defense. And why is that? Because weakness provokes aggression. If NATO is weak and unprepared, it can take that step. But if it is adequately prepared, it will not dare to make that move. And that is precisely what prevents war," Kallas said.

The prime minister also commented on the issue raised during the visit of the president of Ukraine to Estonia that there are Ukrainian men of mobilization age in Estonia and whether they should be handed over to Ukraine.

"First of all, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy did not ask us to do this. He said they were dealing with it in Ukraine. That there are people who are on the front lines and there are people who pay taxes and support those who are on the front lines. That it takes seven or eight people doing the work to support one soldier. And then there are the people who don't pay taxes in Ukraine. He (Zelenskyy – ed.) also said that if they left on legal grounds or before the borders were closed, they have the right to stay abroad. Ukrainians have no intention of chasing these people abroad, and we have no legal basis to do so, nor have we been asked to do so. Ukraine itself controls who has the right to leave the country. Once they reach us, we have no right to deny them temporary protection," Kallas said.

She said that Russia hopes that time will work in its favor and that the West will tire of supporting Ukraine and Russia will get its way. However, she said, the West should not underestimate its strength because Europe's economic and military power is much greater than Russia's. In fact, according to Kallas, Russia is not doing well at all, and after the upcoming presidential elections, Russian society is facing a series of unpopular decisions so that Putin can keep his war machine going.

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Editor: Urmet Kook, Kristina Kersa

Source: Radio 4

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