Centre-EKRE-Isamaa talks stress foreign policy and agriculture continuity

Coalition negotiators meeting with foreign diplomats at the Riigikogu.
Coalition negotiators meeting with foreign diplomats at the Riigikogu. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Coalition negotiations between Centre, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa, are in their second day, with the group unveiling a joint statement on foreign and security policy and meeting with foreign ambassadors residing in Estonia, it is reported.

Centre board member and key negotiator Enn Eesmaa said that if the three parties ended up in a coalition government, Estonia will remain on the same track in terms of foreign policy as it had done, with close cooperation with the European Union, NATO and the United Nations continuing.

EKRE has been notable for its eurosceptic stance and opposition to the UN Global Compact on Migration, the latter position shared by Isamaa.

"The first consultation of the three-party coalition was held on Tuesday, and it focussed on foreign and security policies, reaffirming the importance of consistent foreign policy as a priority for our international partners among others," Mr Eesmaa said on Wednesday.

He added that the negotiations on Tuesday were constructive, and the parties had not found themselves in any fundamental disagreement.

Mr Eesmaa pointed out that there are political forces in Estonia who would try to paint the potential coalition in a negative light in the eyes of Estonia's foreign partners, thereby damaging its image on the international stage.

"We will meet with ambassadors to personally highlight the principles we have adopted and answer any questions the diplomatic corps may have," he added.

Various foreign diplomants went to the Riigikogu on Wednesday afternoon for the potential coalition's presentation of its ideas.

Farmer aid untampered-with

The three parties also agreed to continue paying transitional national aids to Estonian farmers to maximum permissible amount, and to ensure their equal competition conditions in the EU, it is reported.

Centre chair Jüri Ratas said that comprehensive rural development and supporting Estonian farmers and food production have always been of significant importance to his party, according to spokespersons, and that he was delighted that the negotiations resulted in agreements in important principles, which will strengthen the agricultural sector and the competitiveness of Estonian farmers. 

"Among other things, we will continue paying transitional national aids to the maximum permissible amount, as well as support for beekeeping, and we will uphold equal competition conditions in the EU's common market," Mr Ratas said. 

EKRE chair Mart Helme said that any new government's agricultural policy has to be aimed at stopping the decline of rural development.

"To do this, the development of entrepreneurship needs to be fostered in rural areas. The fair treatment of our farmers in the EU needs to be pursued vigorously. It is also important that in the course of the negotiations, we have reached a consensus that the state should further regulate the selling of forests and land by giving preference to Estonian capital," Mr Helme said.

Isamaa leader Helir-Valdor Seeder said that applied research needs to be supported to a larger extent than before, as it helps nurture cooperation between researchers and producers. 

"Measures in the rural development plan must support production with higher value-added and increase Estonia's export capacity," Mr Seeder said.

Further consultation between Center, EKRE and Isamaa is set to resume at 16.00 EET on Wednesday. The three party leaders had already met on Tuesday for talks, and a panel of four negotiators for each party was announced on the same day.

Meanwhile the Reform Party, via its leader Kaja Kallas, clarified on Wednesday that a partnership between it and Centre, which the latter rebuffed at the end of last week, would be on an equal footing and would be infinitely preferable to any Centre-EKRE deal.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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