Tehver: Support needed from state instead of total regulation in a crisis

22.05.20 ... The government laid down excessive restrictions on economic activity and made dependents and wards of people and companies as if they were unable to make the right decisions themselves, head of the Estonian Bar Association Jaanus Tehver says.

Social minister: We want to avoid locking down the country next time

14.05.20 ... To what extent will Estonia be locked down should the coronavirus return in a second wave in autumn as forecast by medical professionals? Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) hopes Estonia will be able to keep the spread of the virus in check so as to avoid having to close shopping centers, limit planned treatment and force students to study remotely.

Rural affairs minister would send schoolchildren to the fields come fall

29.04.20 ... Between a rock and a hard place – Minister of Rural Affairs Arvo Aller is grappling with farmers' concerns for seasonal labor at the same time as his party (Conservative People's Party) looking to keep foreign labor out of Estonia. But he is sincere in wanting as many Estonians as possible working on farms. Including students.

Ratas: Easing of restrictions requires a lot more measuring

25.04.20 ... Prime Minister Jüri Ratas told the "Aktuaalne kaamera" news program on Friday evening that easing of coronavirus crisis restrictions must follow the principle of measure twice, cut once and that additional measuring is required before restrictions can be alleviated.

Mihhail Kõlvart: Life cannot be put on hold for a second time

24.04.20 ... Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart has appeared to be swimming upstream to the government in the crisis. Is that really the case? He finds that wearing protective masks should not be made mandatory in Estonia. And that while the virus returning in autumn would require people to follow strict rules, life cannot be put on hold for a second time.

Mart Laar: EKRE turning against its core voters

23.04.20 ... Historian and two-time prime minister Mart Laar, who celebrates his 60th birthday on Wednesday, tells ERR in an interview that the crisis needs to be turned into an advantage for Estonia and things done differently from neighboring countries. Laar says that Finland's behavior toward the start of the crisis showed it does not want a special relationship with Estonia. The former PM sees EKRE having become part of Estonian politics as a positive development as disgruntled people partial to following orders and observing bans have been given a voice.

Karu: While we might exit the emergency situation, the crisis will linger

21.04.20 ... Former Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Kaimar Karu, who has been removed from office by the leaders of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), did not expect it to happen in the midst of the emergency situation and a double crisis.

Lõhmus on Tallink offer: A takeover would not be possible anyway

17.04.20 ... Chairman of the supervisory board of LHV Rain Lõhmus tells ERR in an interview that he was surprised by Tallink CEO Paavo Nõgene's reaction to the loan offer made by LHV pension funds and Novalpina Capital. Lõhmus said there can be no talk of a takeover for purely mathematical reasons.

Allikvee: No more than five hospitals should take care of COVID-19 patients

16.04.20 ... CEO of the East Tallinn Central Hospital (ITK) Ralf Allikvee finds that no more than five hospitals should take care of coronavirus patients in Estonia and that the remaining hospitals should return to planned surgeries. The emergency situation has left the hospital empty, with only ITK's oncology department working full time.

Popov: Kuressaare will benefit from decision to move patients to mainland

15.04.20 ... Medical chief of the Health Board's crisis headquarters Dr. Arkadi Popov says that the decision to move patients being treated at Kuressaare Hospital to the mainland was made to help restore normal rhythm at the presently overburdened hospital and give its staff a chance to catch their breath. Even though the hospital seems opposed to the decision made on Wednesday, Dr. Popov says that negotiations that preceded it were amicable and peaceful. "I do not believe it is a serious problem for us to discuss," he told "Aktuaalne kaamera" in an interview.

Ülle Madise: Local governments will not be given personal data of people

12.04.20 ... A month after Estonia declared an emergency situation, Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise is both confident and worried. One cannot be swayed by irrational and emotional statements in a crisis because decisions need to be made, Madise is certain. Including in situations where one does not know which is the right decision.

Urva: Nordica needs support to be ready to offer flights

08.04.20 ... State-owned airline Nordica needs an injection from the state to be prepared to operate flights out of Tallinn once the coronavirus crisis that has completely cut Estonia off from Europe ends, CEO of Nordica Erki Urva tells ERR in an interview.

Martin Kadai on why Saaremaa is special, death statistics and restrictions

07.04.20 ... Estonia is counting all deaths of people with the coronavirus, irrespective of the immediate cause of death, Martin Kadai, head of the Health Board's emergency medicine department, tells ERR in an interview.

Head of EAS: Even a strong fish cannot live for two hours in the sun

03.04.20 ... What will happen at the end of the economic crisis? Head of Enterprise Estonia (EAS) Peeter Raudsepp fears two things when thinking about when that time comes, that more people who have lost their jobs and income will leave Estonia and that foreign capital will start buying up successful Estonian companies.

President Kaljulaid: Government responded to the crisis at the right time

25.03.20 ... In an appearance on ETV's "Esimene stuudio" on Monday night, President Kersti Kaljulaid said she believes that the Estonian government has done a good job handling the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic as it responded at the right time. The president was critical, however, of the European Union's actions.

EDF lieutenant colonel: Foreign operations have strengthened EDF

04.03.20 ... The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) have been boosted by its involvement in international operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere, according to high-ranking officer Lt. Col. Eero Kinnunen.

Kristina Kallas interview: Estonia is paralyzed and frozen

03.03.20 ... Chairman of non-parliamentary party Estonia 200 Kristina Kallas told ERR journalist Toomas Sildam that she, as well as the president, is critical of the Riigikogu and its workload: 101 high-paid, highly educated, full-time politicians who seem only capable of producing one poorly prepared bill per month.

Prime minister: We're working to soften Estonia's EU co-financing rise

19.02.20 ... Prime minister Jüri Ratas (Center) gave an interview to ERR's Indrek Kiisler on Wednesday, where he said that while Estonia's EU Cohesion Funds contribution will be less than the 35 percent currently touted for the new 2021-2027 budgetary period, he is working to make the proportion even smaller.

Estonian ambassador to NATO: Alliance in Iraq not feasible without USA

18.02.20 ... It was decided during a meeting of NATO defense ministers last week that the alliance will take some weight off U.S. in Iraq. However, NATO cannot remain in Iraq without the Americans as the latter ensure security, Estonian Ambassador to NATO Kyllike Sillaste-Elling told "Välisilm" in an interview.

Mihhail Kõlvart: Immigration cannot be solved through anger

15.02.20 ... Influential deputy chairman of the Center Party, Tallinn mayor and taekwondo black belt and coach Mihhail Kõlvart smiles on several occasions, laughs on a few, resorts to irony here and there, but generally avoids making light during a 90-minute conversation with ERR's Toomas Sildam. On his desk is a row of small cactuses.

Interview: UK Ambassador on life in Estonia after Brexit

02.02.20 ... When Theresa Bubbear took up the mantle of British Ambassador to Estonia, the eighth since the restoration of independence in 1991, any expectations of this being a quiet stint in a placid country nestling in the northeastern Baltic would've been almost immediately dispelled by the two events which have dominated her office: The arrival of hundreds of British troops forming the core of the NATO battlegroup in Estonia, and of course Brexit.

Finance minister: Social Minister Kiik should not behave this way

24.01.20 ... Deputy chairman of the Conservative People's Party, Minister of Finance Martin Helme vindicates party members serving on the Appointment Committee, talks about father Mart Helme's alleged withdrawal, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik's infuriating actions and a plan to save pharmacies.

Luik: Democracy is intact but being tested

27.12.19 ... Freedom of speech is fine, democracy is also fine, while the latter is being put to the test, media businessman Hans H. Luik tells Andres Kuusk in the Aasta säravaimad tähed end of the year interview.

Urmas Viilma's interview with the PM: Which politicians need a timeout?

21.12.19 ... Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Urmas Viilma hears the figurative confession of PM Jüri Ratas on the show Pealtnägija, with questions ranging from the environment to how to avoid verbal pollution in society. The interview also treats with the prime minister's relationship with God.

Siim Kiisler: Reform remaining in opposition depends on EKRE

20.12.19 ... As the country's previous environment minister, Siim Kiisler (Isamaa) is worried Estonia might take the easy way out and say "no" to everything – wind power, nuclear and oil shale – in a situation where we need to say "yes" to something. As a veteran politician, Kiisler looks ironically at the current political situation where everything seems to be in order, while moving a single block might bring the whole structure crashing down.

Interview: Raimond Kaljulaid on politics and joining the Social Democrats

18.12.19 ... Raimond Kaljulaid was elected to the Riigikogu for the first time in March, having worked for several years for the Tallinn's City Government. Much water has gone under the bridge even since then, after he first quit the Centre Party soon after winning a seat, then most recently joined the Social Democrats. ERR News caught up with Raimond on a wet and windy afternoon in the Riigikogu's cafe, replete with an awesome view of Raimond's former domain, Põhja-Tallinn, to talk through what's been going on these past few months, as well as what lies ahead both for Tallinn and the whole country and how his background in marketing and advertising can help to change things.

Aller: I will not swim upstream

10.12.19 ... Candidate for rural affairs minister Arvo Aller said on the Esimene stuudio program on ETV that he will not go against government policy.

Too much corporate hurrah: Writer on English-language marketing in Estonia

08.12.19 ... Copywriting, content marketing and promotional materials in English have long been something of a curate's egg when it comes to quality. Some work is excellent, other offerings put up for public consumption would make virtually any native English speaker cringe.

Security adviser to PM: We have never considered a plan B

06.12.19 ... The prime minister's security adviser Erkki Tori just spent two days attending the NATO summit near London where the question of whether new defense plans for the Baltic countries are in place was answered.

Interview: Estonia not a country of officials, says Lemetti

27.11.19 ... "Do not ask me to pass judgment, I won't," says Illar Lemetti who was released from office as Ministry of Rural Affairs' secretary general on Monday and will "very likely" contest his dismissal in court. How does Lemetti look back on everything and what does he perceive looking forward?

Interview: The Tallinn Kings and the future of American football in Estonia

25.11.19 ... American Football may not be the first sport which springs to mind when you think of Estonia. However, the interest is there, with teams having played in Tartu and, presently, Tallinn – the Tallinn Kings – as well as obvious interest in the sport on the back of Margus Hunt's several seasons in the NFL, first with the Cincinnati Bengals, and now with the Indianapolis Colts. Martti Poom, one of the driving forces behind the sport here, gave ERR News the rundown on the, often trying, realities of running a team in Estonia, international competition, and possible future developments. We start off with Martti's background in the sport and its history here so far.

Reinsalu defends friendship with Hungary

22.11.19 ... Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu refrained from criticizing the situation of rule of law in Hungary or Budapest's actions in torpedoing NATO-Ukraine relations in an interview to ERR. He described as a pointless question whether Estonia should tie itself to Hungary on the international arena in a situation where the country's domestic policy has come under criticism in the EU and where it has painted itself into various corners in international organizations.

Aivar Hundimägi: We will soon know the worth of Coop Pank

20.11.19 ... There are several ways to become a shareholder of Estonian Coop Pank and the commodity is in no danger of running out any time soon, Aivar Hundimägi says in Vikerraadio's daily comment.

Opposition leader: PM Jüri Ratas has abandoned all principles

15.11.19 ... Reform Party chairman Kaja Kallas explains her sharp utterances aimed at PM Jüri Ratas and says Ratas has abandoned all of his principles. She adds, however, that her comment according to which Ratas would sell Estonia the first chance he got does not mean she accuses him of treason.

New EKRE minister Kaimar Karu in first interview: the weak need protection

12.11.19 ... "It is not the task of the state to control people's lives or tell them how they need to behave." Kaimar Karu, who left a consultation firm in London when he was invited to serve as Estonia's foreign trade and IT minister by the Conservative People's Party (EKRE), gives the interview as if walking on a minefield. What would the interview be about, he asked. I would like to have an idea whom we're dealing with, was the journalist's answer.

Prosecutor general: I will not argue with politicians

29.10.19 ... Prosecutor General Lavly Perling, robbed of her second term by opposition from the Conservative People's Party (EKRE), avoids saying a few choice words about politicians and does not rule out returning to court where corruption is fought every day. "I like to work as a prosecutor in court."

Interview: Ratas to reserve veto right regarding new minister

26.10.19 ... The government of Prime Minister Jüri Ratas suffered losses this week when Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Kert Kingo was forced to resign after misleading the Riigikogu. Ratas said that he will have to meet with and carefully consider new ministerial candidates and agreed that he will reserve a veto right when it comes to filling the position.

Interview: Jaak Juske on politics and the history of Pelgulinn

24.09.19 ... Jaak Juske occupies an unusual place in Estonia in being both an active, sitting MP for the Social Democratic Party (SDE), and an avid local historian, with published books and a popular social media page, mostly focussing on the Pelgulinn district of Tallinn, though other areas and other aspects of history are also very much in the picture for him. He kindly agreed to taking time out for a written interview with ERR News, which follows.

Interview: Toidupank ('Food Bank') founder on initiative's first decade

22.09.19 ... Poverty in Estonia seems to be a topic that never goes away. In spite of the huge material leaps forward made since independence and particularly since EU accession, there are those who have been left behind, under a social security system which, it would be fair to say, is underfunded.

Interview: Canadian Ambassador on his country's strong ties to the Baltics

27.08.19 ... Canada has always been a nation with a deep resonance in the hearts of many Estonians. The country opened its doors to many people who were displaced by the Soviet occupation at the end of World War Two, but, perhaps now more than ever, the relationship is significant in working both ways with the establishment of a Canadian-led NATO battlegroup in neighboring Latvia, and all the boosts that gives in links in the spheres of business, culture and more. We caught up with Kevin Rex, Canada's ambassador to all three Baltic States, to find out more about this very special relationship.

Interview: Kaja Kallas on EKRE, current government, perspective of Reform

08.08.19 ... The Centre Party wouldn't have to join a Reform-led government as a junior partner, but would be equal, Reform Party chairwoman, Kaja Kallas tells ERR's Indrek Kiisler in an interview published on Thursday. Kallas doesn't believe that the leaders of far-right EKRE will change their style, as it is popular with their voters, and hints at a potential motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Jüri Ratas to be considered in the fall.

Interview: How e-voting works in Estonia

19.07.19 ... Estonia held two elections in 2019, with the general election on March 3, and the European elections following on May 26. In both cases, voters had a range of options on how and when to vote. The most celebrated of these is undoubtedly e-voting, which is open in advance of polling day itself (in the case of the European elections, from May 16 to 22).

Interview: Artur Talvik on Estonia's newest political party

11.02.19 ... Artur Talvik is a leading member, albeit not the leader, of the newest political party on the scene in Estonia, called Richness of Life (Elurikkuse erakond in Estonian). However, he is a long-established figure, having previously been at the helm of the Free Party. The son of the late Mati Talvik, a stalwart ETV journalist for many decades, Artur first caught my attention in the documentary The Singing Revolution, in which he appeared.

Interview: New ETV+ chief on ratings, audiences, challenges

03.11.18 ... Ekaterina Taklaja, who currently runs ERR's Russian-language web news, will be the new editor-in-chief of ETV+, ERR's Russian-language TV channel. In her interview with ERR News, she talks about the unique position of ETV+ in the Russian-language media landscape, and the challenges facing the channel.

Paul Keres: Proposed stricter GDPR implementation 'nonsense'

14.06.18 ... Paul Keres, partner at Glikman Alvin and Estonia's 2017 Advocate of the Year, thinks that the current debate following the attempt of politicians to sneak more restrictive language into Estonia's implementation of the EU's general data protection regulation (GDPR) is justified. Not only are the proposed changes nonsense, but they also go against the spirit of the EU's own text.

Interview: Siim Kallas on ambitions, Estonian politics, and EU presidency

09.12.17 ... Following the local elections in October this year, Reform Party founder, former prime minister, EU commissioner, and presidential candidate Siim Kallas took on the job of municipal mayor of Viimsi, a community on the outskirts of Tallinn. In his interview with ERR's Toomas Sildam, Kallas talks about local government, his party, the EU presidency, and perspectives in Estonian politics.

Eiki Nestor: 101 people working together are less likely to be wrong

28.11.17 ... Today a hundred years ago the Estonian Provincial Assembly (also called the Maapäev) declared itself the supreme power in Estonia. President of the Riigikogu and Estonia's longest-serving parliamentarian, Eiki Nestor, talks about the century that has passed, and how it affects what is happening in the Riigikogu today.

Allocate more money to Lasnamäe and Mustamäe, says Daniel James Coll

07.10.17 ... Brand journalist and copywriter Daniel James Coll, running as a candidate of election coalition Hääled in Tallinn's Lasnamäe district, would like the city to pay more attention to road quality and safety—and to be able to make a contribution to healing the divide between local Estonians and Russians.

Caution keeping expats from getting involved, says Joao Rei

04.10.17 ... After last year’s change of government and major shifts in the Center Party, and after a year and a half of administrative reform, the upcoming local elections are unpredictable—and even more difficult for all those whose main language is English. Portuguese expat and Tallinner, Joao Rei, decided to do something about it and to arrange a debate.

EU should stop wasting money on projects nobody needs, says chief auditor

15.09.17 ... The European Union’s budget is too rigid, lacks transparency, and is in need of reforms, the president of the European Court of Auditors, Klaus-Heiner Lehne, told ERR in an interview this week. Lehne also said that the court would pay more attention to the sensible use of EU funds, instead of only looking at the legal aspect.
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