Interviews

Feature | First Estonian nominated for British LGBT leadership award

02.08.20 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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.

Lutsar: Easing of restrictions before Midsummer Day out of the question

09.06.20 ... A spike in coronavirus cases will postpone recommendations for lifting additional restrictions planned for this week. Head of the government's COVID-19 research council, professor of virology Irja Lutsar tells ERR that the number of new cases needs to start falling before Estonia can return to alleviating restrictions.

Siim Kallas: Counting every red cent from Europe makes me sick

04.06.20 ... Vice President of the Riigikogu Siim Kallas finds it insensible to give Nordica €30 million. The state should acquire a holding in a major regional airline to ensure continued direct flights from Tallinn. Kallas also says the EU joint loan has been all but agreed and that he is sickened by Estonians' willingness to count every red cent in the European budget.

Paper: US protests nothing like 1968, says former ambassador to Estonia

03.06.20 ... In a recent interview with daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL), former United States Ambassador to Estonia James D. Melville says that the presidential response to the current, widespread protests in the aftermath of the killing by Minneapolis police of George Floyd on May 25 bring out the hypocrisy of the present incumbent in a situation quite unlike anything the former ambassador had seen before.

Mart Helme interview: EU taking out joint loan a fundamental matter

28.05.20 ... In an interview with ERR, Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) said that Europe taking out a joint loan would mean losing financial independence. He also believes that Germany wants to use it to save its banks that have given loans to Southern European states, and warned that in case of a crash, Italy might return to its own national currency in order to save its economy.

Ratas: Next time we will not close Estonia, but we will isolate the virus

28.05.20 ... Prime Minister Jüri Ratas takes the coronavirus half-time opportunity to talk about what he would do differently next time. He also promises a solution for foreign labor in agriculture, says that Estonia has not been closed to foreign students and finds that just as Estonia agreed to the EU Green Deal, so will it support the union's €750 billion recovery plan.

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.
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