Justice Minister: I'm not beholden to Social Democrats, staying put

Urmas Reinsalu (Pro Patria) speaking at Friday's press conference.
Urmas Reinsalu (Pro Patria) speaking at Friday's press conference. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Justice minister Urmas Reinsalu (Pro Patria) remained defiant at a press conference on Friday, stating that he will not be standing down from his role as minister and that he and his party would not get on their knees for Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE).

Mr Ossinovski had called for Mr Reinsalu's resignation as the latter remained firm in his opposition to the UN Global Migration Compact, following official party line and contravening the line of the other two coalition parties, the Centre Party and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and their leadership.

Mr Reinsalu stated that Mr Ossinovski's demands came as a surprise.

Only my own party can recall me

''The motives are clear. But trying to bring me and the party to our knees, just as the country cannot be brought to its knees. It costs me nothing to stay put,'' said Mr Reinsalu at the press conference.

He added that only his own party can demand his recall, and restated his commitment to its line on the issue.

''This was Pro Patria's own proposals for solving a difficult issue,'' he said.

Critics of the UN compact such as Mr Reinsalu say that whilst it may seem non-binding on the surface, in practice the UN will put in penty of measures to ensure compliance, far beyond the reach of sovereign national laws. He leant on the legal advice of more than one expert, including attorney and former judge Allar Jõks.

President not getting government unity she demands

Moreover, several European countries, including Austria and Hungary, as well as Donald Trump's US, will not accede to the compact, due for endorsement in Marrakesh, Morocco 10-11 December.

Thus since there is no government agreement on the framework, there is no unity on it from an Estonian perspective, he said.

President Kersti Kaljulaid has already said that without governmental agreement, she would not attend the Marrakesh meeting, necessary for ratifiying the compact, which is not actually signed but implicitly endorsed by national leaders attendance and speeches at the meeting.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas acknowledged less than an hour before the conference, which started at 13.00 EET and lasted about 45 minutes, that the government is in crisis and he will need to convene a special meeting on Friday evening to decide what to do next.

Mr Ratas' party, Centre, depends on the support of its coalition partners, SDE and Pro Patria. Even then the government no longer has a majority 51 seats (of 101) at the Riigikogu.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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