Interviews

Postimees sees no conflict of interest in funding MS Estonia expedition

08.09.21 NEWS ... Even though Postimees is funding an expedition by MS Estonia next of kin to the wreck of the ferry, Postimees journalists are merely observers to the process, Editor-in-Chief of Postimees Marti Aavik says, adding that looking for a conflict of interest is useless.

Alar Karis will not be straightening politicians' ties or buttoning coats

03.09.21 NEWS ... President-Elect Alar Karis (63) is packing his things in the office of the director of the Estonian National Museum to open the door to Kadriorg Palace 40 days from now. The former auditor general, university rector is still balancing on the narrow footbridge between insecurity and confidence.

Lutsar: Mask-wearing obligation extension justified by increased numbers

20.08.21 CORONAVIRUS ... Head of the government's advisory scientific council Irja Lutsar told ERR that extending the mask-wearing obligation is justified by a rise in coronavirus figures.

Ühtegi and Tali: Will to defend ourselves breaking the greatest threat

29.07.21 NEWS ... August will mark the passing of 30 years from the restoration of Estonian independence. Brig. Gen. Riho Ühtegi, long-time military intelligence chief, now serves as commander of the Defense League, while Col. Peeter Tali, former journalist, is the deputy head of the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence in Riga. Restoring the Estonian Defense Forces has been a part of their lives.

Luik and Tiido: Neutrality would have meant ending up alone

23.07.21 NEWS ... A small country needs to punch above its weight to be noticed and refrain from isolating itself, former ambassadors Jüri Luik and Harri Tiido say of foreign policy in re-independent Estonia.

Health Board crisis chief: Hospitalized COVID-19 patients are now younger

14.07.21 CORONAVIRUS ... Health Board emergency medicine chief Urmas Sule said the general infection trend and hospitalizations have gotten increasingly younger recently. He told ERR that he considers medical staff vacations the most critical preparation for a possible third wave of COVID-19 in fall.

Taavi Aas: Environmental Board needs to pay for stopping roadworks

01.07.21 NEWS ... Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) finds that if the Environmental Board's call to stop clearing on the Kanama-Valingu highway section comes with additional expenses for the contractor, the board should pay. TREV-2 is asking for €1.7 million in compensation.

Kaja Kallas: Debate cannot be allowed to turn ugly, or people to get hurt

30.06.21 NEWS ... What to discuss with the prime minister on the eve of Victory Day and Midsummer Day? Journalist Toomas Sildam grilled Kaja Kallas on Budget cuts, coronavirus, the armed forces band, conflicts in politics, why she is reading the book "The Asshole Survival Guide: How to Deal with People Who Treat You Like Dirt" and whether there is a thread holding all 1.3 million people in Estonia together.

Interior minister: Right to decide over use of data can be discussed

17.06.21 NEWS ... Current legislation does not give people in Estonia a choice over what kind of personal data the state can use or when to prohibit it. Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani (Center) agrees, in the wake of the ABIS debate, that creating such a possibility could be publicly discussed.

State Secretary on the coronavirus crisis: We came to the precipice

16.06.21 NEWS ... The government will soon have at its disposal an ultramodern crisis management center and perhaps one of the most secretive buildings in Estonia. State Secretary Taimar Peterkop won't say what will take place there but talks about the culture of crisis preparedness instead.

Liimets: I am concentrating on successfully performing professional tasks

15.06.21 NEWS ... Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets, who joined the Center Party last week, says that she prioritizes her foreign policy tasks above party politics for the time being.

Izmailova: Greens aiming for coalition in Tallinn

13.06.21 NEWS ... The Estonian Greens' list of candidates in Tallinn will be many times bigger than in the past at upcoming local government council elections, with the party prioritizing anti-corruption efforts, Tallinn mayor candidate Züleyxa Izmailova tells ERR in an interview. The Greens aim for a coalition seat in the capital.

Interior minister: My worldview is that of a policeman

11.06.21 NEWS ... A fresh member of the Center Party, Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani told ERR on Thursday that he intends to run in local government elections in October. When it comes to his worldview, the former Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) official said he still sees things as a policeman, which provides him with an important sense for internal security.

Kristi Raik: Covid showed that states can be very egotistical

11.06.21 NEWS ... The Finns cannot and refuse to understand how many Estonians are affected by their decision to block labor migration, Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute Kristi Raik, who has worked and pursued research in Finland, says. She also talks about why patience is needed in supporting Eastern Partnership countries to deliver them from under Russian pressure.

Foreign minister: We have done everything we can to restore labor migration

09.06.21 NEWS ... Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets says that Estonia has done more or less everything in its power to explain to Finland the need to restore regular labor migration. Without results so far.

Pekka Haavisto: No specific time frame on restoring labor migration

09.06.21 CORONAVIRUS ... Finland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto told ERR on Tuesday that the Finnish government is working on restoring labor migration between Estonia and Finland as soon as possible, but the current epidemiological situation does not merit opening travel completely.

Interview | Ambassador of Georgia on Independence Day

26.05.21 INTERVIEWS ... May 26 is Georgian Independence Day, a country with much in common with Estonia, even as the two nations' fortunes have taken somewhat different paths since the collapse of the Soviet Union thirty years ago. ERR News caught up with Georgia's ambassador to Estonia, Mr. Archil Karaulashvili to give us a sense of the importance of the country's national day, issues facing its move towards full Euro-Atlantic partnership, Estonian-Georgian relations, and just how did Georgia get to have such a strong international Rugby team.

Former defense ministry undersecretary: Less means less and that is okay

25.05.21 NEWS ... Former Ministry of Defense undersecretary and current Estonian ambassador to the United States Kristjan Prikk spoke to ERR's Toomas Sildam about the pains, gains, connections and backgrounds of national defense. He also spoke on the decision to cut the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) orchestra.

Justice minister: EU funding could lead to overheating in 2024-2025

27.04.21 ECONOMY ... Minister of Justice Maris Lauri (Reform) said Estonia is set to receive so much in investments from the European Union in 2024-2025 that Estonia's own spending must be reduced to avoid overheating in sectors such as construction. Lauri told ERR that there is a clear danger of overheating in the construction sector if the Rail Baltic project and three main highways will be under development concurrently.

Jüri Luik: Russia-West relations like a dialogue between a deaf and a mute

23.04.21 NEWS ... My conversation with Jüri Luik takes place at a time when over 100,000 Russian troops are waiting on the border with Ukraine and the West is trying to figure out what it is they are waiting for. Luik – former defense and foreign affairs ministers, ambassador, now deputy chairman of the Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee – talks about why President Putin acts they way he does and steps democracies can take to counter him.

Mart Laar: We need to forget about Russia for a little while

22.04.21 NEWS ... Veteran politician and historian Mart Laar, who celebrates his 61st birthday on Thursday, finds that Estonia should not worry too much about Russia.

Prime minister: A week of distance learning after school break is necessary

21.04.21 INTERVIEWS ... Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) told ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" in an interview that since infections tend to grow right after a school break, restrictions on education could not be eased from Monday, the first day back from the school break.

Foreign minister: Estonia willing to consider granting Navalny asylum

20.04.21 NEWS ... Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets does not support former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves' proposal to freeze all Russian citizens' EU entry visas and says that Estonia is prepared to consider granting asylum to Alexey Navalny.

Head of union: Nurses driven to their breaking point could stop smiling

14.04.21 NEWS ... The patient deserves the best, while the best is not available in a situation where nurses and caregivers are overworked and exhausted.

Scientific council head: Schools should be first to exit restrictions

13.04.21 CORONAVIRUS ... Head of the government's advisory scientific council Irja Lutsar is careful when discussing coronavirus restrictions and emphasizes that coronavirus spread indicators have not actually gotten much better in Estonia. Lutsar noted that schools should be among the first to open once again, especially in regions with lower infection indicators.

Mart Helme to establish Riigikogu support group for Estonia leaving the EU

11.04.21 NEWS ... Deputy chairman of the opposition Conservative People's Party (EKRE) Mart Helme told ERR in an interview that he wants to create a Riigikogu support group for Estonia leaving the European Union. Helme described the initiative as a cry for help in a federalizing Europe that has succumbed to neo-Marxist ideology. Helme claims there are attempts to rewrite history and lay down censorship in the European Union, as well as attempts to turn the European Commission into the European government.

Andrus Ansip: PM must be sure keeping government together serves a purpose

03.04.21 NEWS ... Veteran politician Andrus Ansip does not beat around the bush. The galloping interview with the former prime minister and European Commission vice president races through Estonian domestic politics where more than a few players get slapped, touches on the coronavirus crisis and fall presidential elections, before arriving at a recipe for casting off the shadows of doping in Estonian skiing.

Mayor: No sense in nursing illusion of kids returning to school this spring

27.03.21 NEWS ... Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart told ERR that he is not very hopeful in terms of children being able to return to school this spring. The mayor believes he should not be vaccinated in a situation where many essential workers have not been given access to immunization yet.

Kallas on additional restrictions: There is little left we can do

24.03.21 CORONAVIRUS ... Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) told ERR that there are no additional restrictions left to establish in Estonia and her admonishing social media post on Tuesday was directed at those who do not follow the restrictions in force currently.

Mikk Marran: 2021 to be more violent than usual in Russia

18.02.21 INTERVIEWS ... The Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service (EFIS) finds in its yearbook that the six months left until State Duma elections in Russia will be politically hot and more violent than usual, Director Mikk Marran tells ERR in an interview.

Jüri Ratas: I have been among the greatest supporters of EKRE voters

17.02.21 INTERVIEWS ... Chairman of the Center Party Jüri Ratas ran two very different governments between November 2016 and January 2021 and admits that coalitions have never been happy marriages in Estonian politics. That said, Ratas claims he has always been on the side of Conservative People's Party (EKRE) voters to support ideas the national conservatives have introduced. Talking about his close ally Mailis Reps, Ratas finds that perhaps Estonia should decide that a minister having someone to help with everyday chores is no bad thing.

Katri Raik: EU eastern border cannot be allowed to run out of people

02.02.21 NEWS ... She had it all – a job in the Riigikogu and a comfortable apartment in the heart of Tallinn. A month ago, she gave it all up and sat on a wobbly three-legged stool in Narva. How does life in Estonia seem from the last homely house on the border? Mayor of Narva Katri Raik (SDE) knows and tells.

Kaljulaid: Supervisory boards of Tallinn companies should be depoliticized

31.01.21 NEWS ... Members of supervisory boards of municipal companies in Tallinn could be proposed by a special appointments committee similarly to how it works on the central government level, Raimond Kaljulaid, Tallinn mayoral candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) says in an interview. Kaljulaid adds that Rainer Vakra leaving will not cost the Social Democrats much in terms of votes.

Ambassador to US: Biden concentrated on unity and democracy in speech

21.01.21 NEWS ... Estonian Ambassador to the United States of America Jonatan Vseviov says in an interview to ERR that the inauguration ceremony of the 46th President of the United States Joe Biden went smoothly and without incident. Vseviov says that Biden's speech concentrated on the need to find common ground and defense of democracy.

Helme considers the same coalition continuing a possibility

13.01.21 NEWS ... Chairman of the Conservative People's Party (EKRE), Minister of Finance Martin Helme does not rule out a new coalition between recent partners in an interview to ERR. At the same time, he considers it possible that the marriage referendum vote in the Riigikogu will be canceled.

President: Estonians' will to cooperate highlight of the outgoing year

23.12.20 NEWS ... President Kersti Kaljulaid said that Estonians' will to cooperate has shined through during the outgoing COVID-19 year. The president told Priit Kuusk in an end of the year interview on ETV about overcoming the economic crisis, plans regarding her OECD candidacy, next year's presidential elections and Christmas that will come differently this year.

Interview | Head of Catholic Church in Estonia on an unparalleled Christmas

23.12.20 NEWS ... Christmas is here in perhaps more muted and reflective tones than many people can remember, but it's Christmas nonetheless. With that in mind, ERR News talked to Bishop Philippe Jourdan, leader of the Catholic Church in Estonia, and with it the small, but growing and vibrant minority community of Catholics in the country, to find out how things stood with current discussions in society, his experiences in Estonia, and of course what has changed and what has remained constant, with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.

Siim Kallas: The EU will not allow itself to be taken hostage

14.12.20 NEWS ... No one can take the European Union hostage, former Vice President of the European Commission Siim Kallas said on Wednesday when a veto by Poland and Hungary threatened the use of €1.8 trillion for the benefit of all 27 member states. Looking at the last 30 years, Kallas finds embracing parliamentary democracy to have been Estonia's greatest achievement.

Former Prosecutor General Lavly Perling: Coronavirus worse than politics

06.12.20 NEWS ... Becoming a supporting member of the Parempoolsed (Right-wingers) dissident group in Isamaa is not revenge against the government for robbing Perling of her second term, former Prosecutor General Lavly Perling tells Toomas Sildam in an interview. Perling's move into politics has created a fair bit of confusion and stirred passions. But COVID-19 is worse, Perling knows, as someone who has recovered from the disease.

Interview | Defense minister on Estonia's NATO experience now and in future

29.11.20 NEWS ... Of the current government ministers, Jüri Luik (Isamaa) has more experience than most, and in the same post – defense. ERR News sat down with the minister to ask him what NATO and EU membership brings, how the defense forces tick, what lies ahead in the future, and, conversely, how Estonia's armed forces have transformed since the 1990s in his first stint as defense minister.

Siim Kiisler: Marriage referendum a long field day for radicals

25.11.20 NEWS ... Only one parliamentary party out of five would gain from the marriage referendum and it is to be hoped the leaders of the Center Party and Isamaa realize this, Isamaa MP Siim Kiisler says in an interview. Kiisler voting against sending the referendum bill to the floor in the Riigikogu Constitutional Committee has postponed the debate. What is he after?

Perling: I no longer want to remain an onlooker to populist roaring

25.11.20 NEWS ... Former Prosecutor General Lavly Perling who identified herself as a supporter of Isamaa's Parempoolsed (Right-wingers) in-house opposition group on Wednesday tells ERR in an interview that she can no longer remain an onlooker to populist roaring and wants to contribute to the development of the Parempoolsed. Perling does not say whether she plans to join Isamaa or run in local government council elections.

Kallas: Greece a good example of how a country in debt will not remain free

17.11.20 NEWS ... Reform Party chairwoman Kaja Kallas tells ERR in an interview that Greece's example should be a warning in terms of a country in debt losing the ability to make its own decisions. Kallas also confirms that the Riigikogu opposition will deploy obstruction tactics against the marriage referendum bill.

Saarts: Cordon sanitaire sees populists kept from power in many countries

16.11.20 NEWS ... Center was looking to avoid ruling at the mercy of the Reform Party. Cordon sanitaire sees populists kept out of power in many countries. The deprived have risen up. The elite in Estonia would do well to fear presidential elections. Associate professor of comparative politics at Tallinn University, political scientist Tõnis Saarts talks about politics and the art of playing it.

Allar Jõks: Government communication on masks controversial and confusing

11.11.20 NEWS ... Former justice chancellor Allar Jõks criticized controversial and ambivalent messages from the government over whether wearing a mask is mandatory, recommended or a guideline starting next week. Making mask-wearing mandatory would require amending the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act post haste, Jõks finds.

Center MP: I hope society does not support defining marriage

27.10.20 NEWS ... Deputy chairman of Center Party's Riigikogu political group and member of the constitutional committee Andrei Korobeinik told ERR that he does not see controversial questions posed as public opinion as a bad thing, but he hopes that society will not support defining marriage in the constitution, if the coalition's initative to do so were to reach the public via a planned referendum.

Helme: We are not in the business of apologizing

25.10.20 NEWS ... Chairman of the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) Martin Helme answered the questions of journalist Arp Müller on Vikerraadio's "Uudis+" program on the upcoming marriage referendum and Mart Helme's (EKRE) comment aimed at sexual minorities from a week ago. Helme sees no reason to apologize to the latter.

Tartu 2024 CEO: 'Arts of Survival' have taken on new meaning this year

24.10.20 NEWS ... CEO of the Tartu 2024 Foundation Priit Mikk's job is to steer and shape the winning vision for Estonia's second European Capital of Culture in four years time. He told ERR News what's happened since the city clinched the title and what comes next.

Seeder: No cooperation in the coalition but rhetoric has become friendlier

21.10.20 NEWS ... Chairman of the coalition Isamaa party Helir-Valdor Seeder told the "Esimene stuudio" political talk show in an interview that things are tense in the coalition and there is no good feeling of cooperation, while the tone of the dispute has become friendlier and the sides want to move forward.

Taavi Rõivas: I have climbed my political peaks

16.10.20 NEWS ... Former prime minister and current Reform Party MP Taavi Rõivas told ERR in an interview that he has climbed his political heights and has reason to be satisfied with his time in politics. Rõivas is not planning to leave the party, while he will not be running for its boards or the Tallinn city council in the future.

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