Foreign trade and IT minister Kert Kingo (EKRE) has only been on one work trip since taking up office, and has turned down several invitations over the same period, according to ERR's online Estonian news, citing news portal geenius.ee.
Kingo, who has been on the job a little over three months, noted when taking up the post that she would be keeping foreign trips to a minimum.
"I can't come up with invitations myself," Kingo told ERR in response to a question.
"There haven't been any business trips within my remit that a minister would have been invited to or expected. You can't create these things yourself," she continued.
Kingo also noted that those invitations she has already been sent are to be reviewed at a ministry meeting in early September, from which she will select those she wants to attend.
"My future overseas visits will be clear in September when all the topics are there on the table. After all, I don't receive all the invitations and decide on them personally; I have separate people who they are sent to and filtered, later reaching me, then we'll see, if there's a meeting, there's a meeting! If you think the minister receives invites in their personal inbox and then decides. Well I'll go here and here, but this is simply not the case. And this goes for the whole ministry, " Kingo continued.
Kingo added that she had not been on any foreign trips during summer for precisely that reason, i.e. it was the holidays.
The last overseas meeting Kingo attended was the Open Government Partnership Summit in Ottawa, Canada, in late May. However, she failed to attend the EU foreign trade ministerial meeting on 28 May in Brussels.
At the same time, according to the geenius piece (link in Estonian) Kingo declined to take part in several international events she was personally invited to. These include a major economic forum in Poland, unofficially called the "east Davos" summit and previously attended by former president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former defense minister Hannes Hanso, former finance minister Jürgen Ligi (Reform) and former Riigikogu speaker Ene Ergma.
Additionally, Kingo is not planning to go to a meeting in Serbia, which brings together China and several Central and Eastern European nations, previously attended by Prime Minister Jüri Ratas among others. Closer to home, an invite from Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš to attend the Riga 5G forum has similarly gone unanswered, the geenius piece said.
Kingo replaced Mart Kuusik in mid-May, after the latter had been forced to step down following media reports he had been involved in domestic violence.
As noted Kingo stated soon after taking up the post that she did not intend to take many working trips abroad, adding that she would use Estonian as her working language via an interpreter.
Editor: Andrew Whyte