Interviews

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.

Head of Parempoolsed: Radicals have succeeded in taking society hostage

08.10.20 NEWS ... "Of course, we want to rock our socks off," entrepreneur Kristjan Vanaselja who was elected chairman of Isamaa's Parempoolsed (Right-wingers) group says. "Darn it, we are spurred on by the degenerate situation Estonia finds itself in." Vanaselja dreams of an Isamaa which has a support rating of 20 percent instead of 5 percent. Read the group's manifesto here.

Investment banker working with Freeh: I have not represented the state

27.09.20 NEWS ... Estonian investment banker Ragnar Meitern who according the Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) was the first person to contact Louis Freeh's law firm and is now working in his team told ERR that he sees no conflict of interest in his work and was not part of the decision to pick Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan to represent Estonia.

Interview | Jaak Aaviksoo: Politics far more complicated than science

25.09.20 NEWS ... Estonia could do with a single vocational school. Let us only recruit the foreign students Estonia needs. The Reform Party fell victim to a coup. Segregation also down to a particular attitude among Estonians. The tallest minister of any Estonian government (198 centimeters), former education and defense minister, former University of Tartu and Tallinn University of Technology rector Jaak Aaviksoo (66) gives an interview.

Kaja Kallas on new political season: Many battles ahead

15.09.20 NEWS ... Opposition leader, chairman of the Reform Party Kaja Kallas tested the waters for a new potential coalition during the summer. The results came back negative. However, she believes that presidential elections in 2021 could have an unpleasant surprise in store for the government.

Interview with ERR boss: Estonian media scene among healthiest worldwide

12.09.20 NEWS ... The competitive situation between public and private media in Estonia, far from being stifled, is among the healthiest in the world, says ERR management board chair Erik Roose – who has worked in both sectors. ERR News caught up with Roose after an organization representing private media service providers in Estonia announced plans to take a complaint to the European Commission over what it sees as unfair competition on the part of the public broadcaster, particularly with regard to its online news

Interview: Media organization chief on European Commission ERR complaint

12.09.20 NEWS ... The news that the Estonian Association of Media Enterprises (EML) is planning to take its complaint over public broadcaster ERR to European Commission level has raised many questions over the exact role and nature of any public broadcaster and how that fits in with the private sector.

Indrek Saar distrustful of Helme-marshaled economic forecast

09.09.20 NEWS ... Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) Indrek Saar tells ERR in an interview that the state budget should prioritize support for digital and green technologies and investments that could help Estonia repay loans down the line. Saar is skeptical of the finance ministry's economic forecast.

Kallas on continued salary support: State cannot do private sector's part

09.09.20 NEWS ... Chairman of the opposition Reform Party Kaja Kallas tells ERR in an interview that she does not see the benefit in extending salary support instruments. She believes enterprise should be supported using targeted measures, such as Minister of Finance Martin Helme's (EKRE) tourism vouchers idea.

Novichok creator: The aim was not to kill Navalny but make him an invalid

08.09.20 NEWS ... Russian chemist Vil Mirzayanov who now lives in the U.S. and was directly involved with developing the Novichok nerve toxin tells ERR in an interview that the aim was not to kill Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny but rather maim him for life – a fate he describes as far worse than death.

Interview | Mart Laar: The current crisis should be capitalized on

06.09.20 NEWS ... Former prime minister Mart Laar (Isamaa) finds that while the government's borrowing was justified, it should dial back the state apparatus heading into state budget talks. Laar does not plan to join Isamaa's Parempoolsed (Right-wingers) group, nor does he support the planned marriage referendum as he says Estonia has more pressing issues to worry about.

Foreign minister: Latvia might impose quarantine requirement for Estonia

03.09.20 NEWS ... Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu told ERR that the Latvian government could lay down a two-week quarantine requirement for people traveling from Estonia to Latvia. According to Reinsalu, this would negatively impact Estonians traveling to Latvia as well as tourism from Latvia.

Interview | Urmas Paet: Dictators like Lukashenko do not change

01.09.20 NEWS ... MEP and former foreign minister Urmas Paet is pessimistic when talking about Belarus. Lukashenko will not change, he says, adding that Russia views Belarus as a tiny model of itself where a disgruntled people simply cannot be allowed to bring about a change of leadership through protests.

Lawyer: Media flogging made it impossible for Aivar Mäe to continue

28.08.20 NEWS ... Defense lawyer for outgoing National Opera Estonia head Aivar Mäe, sworn advocate Paul Keres, told ERR Friday that had Mäe decided to continue at the helm of the theater, he would not have been able to escape the effects of the Eesti Ekspress article and accusations of sexual harassment made therein.

Yana Toom: Lukashenko can not hold back desire for payback

25.08.20 NEWS ... MEP Yana Toom (Center) told ERR that Estonia rushed its decision to not recognize the results of recent elections in Belarus, giving long-time president Alexander Lukashenko his sixth term.

Every tenth coronavirus patient does not know who infected them

23.08.20 NEWS ... Over the past 24 hours, 21 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in Estonia. While the Health Board is unable to track down the source of infection for every tenth patient, the agency's acting head Mari-Anne Härma told "Aktuaalne kaamera" in an interview that the situation will become critical if the source of half of infections cannot be determined.

Bank of Estonia governor: 2021 budget deficit could be up to 4 percent

22.08.20 NEWS ... Governor of the Bank of Estonia Madis Müller tells Indrek Kiisler in an interview that the government should maintain moderation in its spending, meaning that while Estonia cannot escape fiscal deficit in 2021, fiscal balance should be the target for 2022. Müller also admits that Estonia has high consumer credit interest rates.

Feature | First Estonian nominated for British LGBT leadership award

02.08.20 NEWS ... Ian Gustav Ahlberg is the first Estonian to be nominated for a British LGBT Award, and has been recognised for his leadership skills promoting the voices of the Financial Times' LGBTQ+ community. ERR News caught up with Ahlberg last month to discuss his life, work and the differences between LGBTQ+ rights in the U.K. and Estonia.

Martin Helme on European Council accord: It was a good result

22.07.20 NEWS ... Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) told ERR that Estonia can be largely satisfied with the result of the Special European Council, while there are also things that are less positive from the country's perspective.

Marina Kaljurand: I'm not sure I would make a good prime minister

21.07.20 NEWS ... She was the most popular candidate at the 2016 presidential elections but did not become president. Will she run again? Next, she won the European Parliament elections and now spends a lot of time in Brussels. Marina Kaljurand – a person with a friendly smile, open demeanor and often direct utterances – hosts ERR at her summer home in Hiiumaa. Has she gone from being on top to being a dot?

Feature | ETV 65: An insight into then and now with director Jüri Pihel

19.07.20 NEWS ... Estonian National Television (ETV) is turning 65 today (July 19) and ERR News celebrated the occasion by interviewing the legendary director and producer Jüri Pihel.

Interview with Ott Vatter: E-Residency now aiming for impact, not numbers

11.07.20 NEWS ... In an interview with e-Residency director Ott Vatter, ERR journalist Toomas Sildam read the Internal Security Service's (Kapo) annual yearbook and learned that e-Residency is directing less of its search for new e-residents toward third countries and more toward Europe, as it is safer. Also discussed were how e-residents have held up against the coronavirus crisis and what countries are hijacking Estonian e-residency.

Külli Taro: Who should be allowed to sit on the council?

10.07.20 NEWS ... The debate over the incompatibility of local government council members' positions was left unfinished during the Riigikogu's spring session. The Supreme Court tasked the parliament with considering once more which people employed by cities and rural municipalities should be allowed to also serve as council members. The decision to be made in the fall will seriously affect upcoming local elections, Külli Taro writes in Vikerraadio's daily comment.

Marju Himma: Everyday theatrics through the filter of culture

09.07.20 NEWS ... Current affairs can be given a deeper and more multifaceted meaning by making sense of them through plays, movies and novels, journalism expert Marju Himma recommends in Vikerraadio's daily comment.

Interview | New EKRE chair Martin Helme: We are living in insane times

08.07.20 NEWS ... The Conservative People's Party (EKRE) still sets itself in contrast to everyone else. It benefited them at parliamentary elections last year and is the line the party is following in the government. "Contra mundum," says Minister of Finance Martin Helme who took over running EKRE from his father Mart on Saturday. He also says things that do not require interpretation. EKRE's coalition partners, farmers and the Social Democrats would do well not to read this interview in the interests of peace of mind.

Martin Helme: Party image can be changed without losing recent voters

05.07.20 NEWS ... Martin Helme, who was elected chairman of the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) on Saturday and aims to win the next Riigikogu elections and become prime minister, told "Aktuaalne kaamera" in an interview that in order to find new supporters, the party's image can be changed without losing recent voters.

Interview | Mayor of Tallinn: Integration, Tallinn's future and 'Tenet'

04.07.20 NEWS ... ERR News interviewed Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart last month about the future of the capital city, integration, coronavirus and upcoming movie "Tenet." The interview took place at Tallinn City Hall on June 19.

Attorney: Purposeful operation to destroy Aivar Mäe underway

03.07.20 NEWS ... An unprecedent operation has been launched against Aivar Mäe the result of which is the destruction of the reputation of a respected person, Paul Keres, attorney to the national opera theater's director, says in an interview to ERR.

Interview | Hololei: One airline enough for Baltics

30.06.20 NEWS ... The European Commission's Director General for Mobility and Transport Henrik Hololei believes that the Baltic countries could have a single strong airline with a wide customer base. Hololei tells ERR in an interview that Estonia needs a strong aviation cluster that does not just stand for an airline but also includes a lot of other elements to promote aviation development.

Toom: Ratas is good, but I would not like to be a member of this government

28.06.20 NEWS ... One of the most exciting Center Party politicians Yana Toom says that while she would like to be a minister in Jüri Ratas' government, it is not the current one. Now, she is a member of the European Parliament who would push the EU toward federalization, form a coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SDE) in Narva but tends to trust Kristen Michal over Raimond Kaljulaid in Tallinn.

Urmas Paet: Trump's troop withdrawal solo an unfortunate development

19.06.20 NEWS ... The Reform Party could support the coalition's presidential candidate, former foreign minister, MEP Urmas Paet says. He sees as the most unfortunate aspect of USA-EU relations the fact President Trump fails to discuss plans with allies and engages in solo acts that undermine transatlantic cooperation.

Rein Lang wants campaign to repeal unnecessary legal acts

17.06.20 NEWS ... Former justice minister Rein Lang finds that Estonia is becoming an increasingly overregulated society and expects a campaign to repeal unnecessary laws as controversial legislation is piling up. Lang gave an interview to the "Vikerhommik" morning radio show to mark the 100th anniversary of the Estonian Constitution.

Taavi Aas: LOT stake in Nordica to be acquired for less than a million

16.06.20 NEWS ... Minister of Economic Affairs and Instructure Taavi Aas says that Polish airline LOT will give up its stake in Nordica subsidiary Regional Jet and that current calculations suggests the holding could be acquired for less than €1 million, with the final sum to be determined in the course of negotiations. Estonia's €30 million state aid for Nordica should receive the green light from the European Commission in the near future.

Interview | Wolt Baltic CEO: We should list before turning 40

12.06.20 NEWS ... Liis Ristal, head of the Baltic branch of Finnish food delivery services provider Wolt, is convinced that the company is doing the right thing in Estonia. While Wolt has managed to grow from one month to the next for three years, the business is not ready yet and a bigger niche needs to be carved out.

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