In a speech given at a meeting of the Centre Party's extended board on Saturday, party chairman and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said that the coalition agreement to be entered into with Isamaa and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) is not inconsistent with Centre's own worldview.
"I will not be coming to the extended board with a coalition agreement that would contradict the Centre Party's worldview and Estonia's interests," Mr Ratas said in his speech, adding that the party's next extended board meeting is planned to be held next Saturday, 6 April.
Addressing the extended board, the party chairman touched upon both the upcoming European Parliament elections as well as ongoing coalition talks between Centre, Isamaa and EKRE, stressing that a coalition agreement will be brought before the extended board that is strong both for Estonia as well as the Centre Party, spokespeople for the party said.
Mr Ratas thanked the candidates and all those who contributed to the party's 2019 Riigikogu election result. Although the work done and various polls had given reason to hope for an even better result, he said that the party acted as a united and strong team. The party's extended board also adopted a declaration that commends finding common ground between the three parties.
"We met with voters, were active, and spelled out objectives important to Estonia in our platform," the chairman said. "People's welfare was at the centre of the campaign. We continue to stand for all those who have sadly been passed by our country's success story over the years."
Wait until agreement is complete
The party was faced with a tough decision on the evening of the Riigikogu elections, but a choice had to be made, he stressed.
"It is very difficult to offer our voters real results and move Estonian life forward while in the opposition," Mr Ratas explained. "We set continuing in the government as a goal, as this is how we can stand for our ideas and voters. Initial meetings as well as public exchanges of ideas indicated that we can best do this in a three-party coalition."
The three parties have severe ideological differences, he admitted, and talks have been difficult, but the parties to the proceedings have the will to find common ground. He called on his fellow party members to assess the coalition agreement once it has been completed.
Mr Ratas said that an important goal for the next few weeks and months will be achieving as strong a result as possible in the European Parliament elections taking place in late May, where the party's list of candidates includes two MEPs as well as MPs and local government leaders.
"The efforts and contributions of the entire party will be necessary in order to achieve a good result," the head of the party stressed. "The Centre Party has achieved either first or second place and one or two mandates in the elections thus far. We will head into this year's elections with the same goal."
Editor: Aili Vahtla