Centre, EKRE, Isamaa discuss social issues in coalition talks

Isamaa's Helir-Valdor Seeder, Centre's Jüri Ratas and EKRE's Mart Helme talking to journalists. 16 March 2019.
Isamaa's Helir-Valdor Seeder, Centre's Jüri Ratas and EKRE's Mart Helme talking to journalists. 16 March 2019. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Talks between Centre, EKRE and Isamaa continued on Saturday. The parties picked up the topics of social cohesion and Estonia's population, including was to promote population growth.

Coalition talks between the Centre Party, the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) and Isamaa continued on Saturday. Setting out to discuss efforts to be made to support children and families, and to help those people who have decided to return to Estonia from other countries, the parties said that providing the necessary financial support needs to become a "broader goal" of the next as well as of future governments.

"In recent years both the birth rate and the numbers of people returning to Estonia have shown a positive trend," Prime Minister Jüri Rates (Centre) told the media on Saturday. "The rise in child and family benefits has definitely played an important part in this, and needs to continue," he added.

The aim is to offer a state guarantee for home loans to families with a lot of children and also to young families, so that no down payment would be required from them, thus making it easier to buy their own home.

Mr Ratas added that the Centre Party "stands for a more cohesive society and the ethnic minorities" living in Estonia.

Ratas: Potential coalition of Centre, EKRE, Isamaa attaches value to all national cultures

"This potential coalition attaches value to all the national cultures we have here, and we'll continue to support the cultural societies and Sunday schools of ethnic minorities, among other things," Mr Ratas said.

Such a course could indicate trouble ahead as Centre, EKRE and Isamaa are about to enter a week of discussing more sensitive topics, such as citizenship policy. Especially EKRE could get less and less comfortable should Mr Ratas' pro-diversity rhetoric continue, seeing as their course so far as well as their campaign platform is very heavily geared towards an "Estonians first" type of politics.

Isamaa: Families, returners of key importance

Speaking on behalf of Isamaa, party secretary-general Priit Sibul said that the economic well-being and the feeling of security of families are matters of key importance to Estonia, and help increase the birth rate as well as the number of families with many children.

"Isamaa is convinced that the demographic situation is one of the biggest challenges facing our state, which the new government coalition is committed to addressing," Mr Sibul said.

"We've agreed that matters of population, including the returning of Estonians from abroad, will be dealt with at the government level," he added.

EKRE: Returning Estonians will help addressing labour shortages

EKRE chairman, Mart Helme said that it was agreed that measures to help people who are returning from abroad will be made available. This, according to Mr Helme, means making counselling available to families and individuals, helping them find a home and a job and a place in school for their children, as well as solving other practical matters.

"What we stand for is not just raising the birth rate, but also bringing our own people back to Estonia," Mr Helme said. "The constant talk here has been that the shortage of labor can be alleviated only through immigration. As a matter of fact, facilitating the return of our own fellow countrymen is one of the solutions to this problem."

Saturday's talks also continued on issues of national security, which the three parties discussed in the afternoon.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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