Minister of Climate and Reform Party board member Kristen Michal says former party leader Andrus Ansip should indeed run at the European Parliament election in June.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas sent a public letter to Andrus Ansip, a sitting MEP, asking him not to run for Reform at the European Parliament elections in June.
Commenting on the Ansip-Kallas spat, which has been long-running, Michal said that criticizing each others' personal characteristics cannot improve the situation in Estonia
Speaking to ETV politics show "Esimene stuudio" Thursday, Michal said: "Andrus Ansip, like Kaja Kallas, is a vital player in the life of Estonia. I think that given all that he has accomplished in various [domestic] governments, at the European Commission, and at the European Parliament, I would surely recommend him four our list. So my recommendation would definitely be for him to apply to run."
Ansip became an MEP after winning a seat at the 2019 European election. Prior to that he had been Estonia's European commissioner, holding the digital single market portfolio, and was prime minister of Estonia 2005-2014.
Kristen Michal added that: "I think that party supporters and members definitely have the expectation that we will deal with what we are tasked with, i.e. leading, and improving life in Estonia This is the expectation and, based on that, I think that for the most part the Reform Party also works well, and I hope that everyone will do so in future."
Michal denied any split in the party, along any lines.
"I have not seen a situation like that in any regions or other places, where we could say people are divided, though I would rather say that people are worried about the situation, in fact, in a wider sense, also because of what has been happening in the Estonian state and at the Riigikogu. At the same time, there is what is happening with the war in Ukraine, and the cooling of the economy, to consider. In a state like this, I would like parliamentary democracy to function smoothly, and the political party that is at the helm to also perform well."
"In my opinion, no organization that wants to be successful can allow itself to deal with each other instead of its core activities," Michal added, saying that the large mandate Reform was given at the last election – where it won 37 Riigikogu seats – brings with it responsibility.
This includes resolving once and for all the long-running deadlock at the Riigikogu, he said.
As to what Ansip's issues might be, Michal answered in fairly general terms, stating that he is "essentially being gnawed at by the same question: How to improve life in Estonia," adding that he would expect the same from Prime Minister Kallas too.
Beyond that, the party's board does not deal with issues such as personal beefs between party members.
Being the subject of criticism sometimes is part and parcel of being in office, Michal noted.
"It is in the interest of all parties that this debate is as high-quality as possible and with fewer emotions," he said.
Kallas wrote to Ansip that she had no knowledge of what the latter had been doing during his term at the European Parliament. "You have used your position there only to comment on domestic politics and criticize the government and your own party," she noted.
"If the party is doing well, you bide your time, waiting for an opportunity. If the party is struggling, you are among the first to show up and kick us when we're down," the letter went on.
Kallas was an MEP 2014-2019 before returning to Estonia to become Reform leader. She became prime minister in January 2021 and has remained in office since then, across three different administrations.
Her name has been linked in the media with both the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy post, currently occupied by Josep Borell, and the commissioner from Estonia position. Both jobs become vacant later this year.
Ansip called Kallas' understanding and recommendation not to run as "petty," adding in an interview recorded on Monday for ETV's "Pealtnagija" that the Kaja Kallas' trust credit she was granted at the election last March had expired very quickly.
Polling day in Estonia for the European Parliament elections is Sunday, June 9, while parties are expected to have their full lists ready by mid-April. Reform says it has already started its selection process, adding that the nine candidates chosen will follow an internal vote from party members.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov
Source: 'Esimene stuudio,' interviewer Mirko Ojakivi.