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Rail Baltica line in sand for Riigikogu hopefuls Estonian Greens

Members of the Estonian Greens participating in a demonstration against the Reidi Road project before it was modified.
Members of the Estonian Greens participating in a demonstration against the Reidi Road project before it was modified. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

The Estonian Greens are hoping to earn 11 seats in the 101-seat Riigikogu in the 2019 election, but the party will not consider joining a coalition that favors moving forward with the Rail Baltica railway project and won't reduce logging capacities.

There are currently 50 names included on the list of candidates running in the Greens in next year's election. The party's top picks have not yet been announced; they will be decided sometime in August, once they have met with potential candidates.

Estonian Greens Secretary General Joonas Laks told ERR that movements involving conservation and a decent living environment, such as actions that have been organised against the pulp mill in Tartu County and the Rail Baltica project, have not brought them any new members.

"Party member numbers have not increased," he explained. "Rather, some exchanges have occurred — some have stopped being active, and new ones have joined. But the number of supporters has definitely increased."

According to Laks, however, the Greens' goal isn't so much to increase the size of the party as compile a representative list of candidates for the election next March. The Greens, he added, welcome independent candidates on their election lists as well.

A key electoral district for the Greens will be Tallinn, where party chairwoman Züleyxa Izmailova serves as deputy mayor. The movement against the construction of the planned Reidi Road ended in a compromise controversial to many party members which led to Izmailova taking office in the capital city.

According to Laks, the Greens are pleased with their efforts, noting that they did what they could, they were called in to help, and they improved the project, but the process in that particular case had already gotten too far and nothing else could be done. "At the same time, the situations is different with Rail Baltica, because the ground has not yet been broken, and we may be able to stop it," he added.

The Greens' Riigikogu election platform stresses green thinking in all alreas, according to the party secretary general, who highlighted in particular the importance of direct democracy and giving the people the opportunity to conduct binding referendums. Rail Baltica, however, is a line in the sand that the Greens refuse to cross.

"We do not plan on joining a single government that will move forward with Rail Baltica, which does not write in the abandonment of oil shale or which will leave the door open for phosphate mining," Laks asserted.

"Another red line is the clear-cutting of forests," he continued. "In other words, logging capacities must be reduced. Just how much will be up to our party members and voters to decide and development plans to define, but we will not join a single government that states that logging capacities should not be reduced."

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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