“Estonia has always been a strong supporter of the state of Kosovo, and we reaffirm our continuous support,” Ratas said. “One of our roles in the EU is to continue working in the name of granting visa freedom to Kosovo. We know how important it is to open doors and break ice. There is no doubt that Estonia will continue to support Kosovo’s aspirations, but we have to understand that this alone is not sufficient for the EU, and it is necessary to achieve the approval of all Member States and meet all criteria.”
Ratas recalled that Estonia had recognized the independence of Kosovo in 2008. “From our own historical experience, we remember very well how important the early international recognition and support for establishing a democratic society was,” Ratas said. “Estonia has carried out quite difficult social reforms a couple of decades ago, and we know how hard it can be. Now we are ready to support the reform processes in Kosovo.”
Ratas underlined that Estonia was ready to share its EU integration and reform process experience, especially in the field of rule of law, good governance and areas related to e-governance services.
Ratas noted that, 16 years ago, Estonia had started with the i-voting and was now ready to share its years of experience. “Our companies are ready to share their knowledge and technology, for example solutions based on digitalisation or artificial intelligence,” Ratas added.
Ratas pointed out that in terms of economy, Estonia and Kosovo were very similar. “We are both small and export-oriented. We are also both well informed of the potential of digital economy,” Ratas said. “As a small country, we know from first-hand experience how important it is to keep the business climate investor friendly and provide a transparent and secure legal space for them to manage their assets. Digitalisation is, of course, a helpful tool for this purpose.”
The President of Kosovo thanked Estonia for the support to Kosovo’s independence, and said that Estonia was an example to them in building up their democratic independent country. She emphasised that the country had developed and changed a lot over the years. In her opinion, the population of Kosovo is young and pro-European. She underlined that the strategic goals of her country were NATO and European Union membership.
Photos of the meeting (Erik Peinar, Riigikogu)
The Bill on Amendments to the Local Government Organisation Act (212 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, provides that the authority of a council member is suspended when they are employed on the basis of an employment contract in an administrative agency of the same rural municipality or city. Under the current Act, the authority of a council member is terminated before the end of the term upon their entry into an employment contract with a local government administrative agency. The proposed amendment does not concern officials.
The initiation of the Bill was motivated by an application of the Chancellor of Justice for the Supreme Court to adopt a position. The Supreme Court had found that the current restrictions for employees employed under an employment contract at local government administrative agencies excessively restricted their right to stand as candidates. Consequently, the committee decided to ease the restriction and support the suspension of the authority instead of terminating it.
During the debate, Riho Breivel, Martin Helme, Paul Puustusmaa, Jaak Valge and Henn Põlluaas (all from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party, EKRE) took the floor. At the sitting that started at 10 a.m. today, Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa), Kalle Grünthal (EKRE), Heiki Hepner (Isamaa), Kert Kingo (EKRE), Anti Poolamets (EKRE), Rene Kokk (EKRE), Merry Aart (EKRE), Helle-Moonika Helme (EKRE), Siim Pohlak (EKRE), Ruuben Kaalep (EKRE), Mart Helme (EKRE), Peeter Ernits (EKRE), Uno Kaskpeit (EKRE), Leo Kunnas (EKRE), Oudekki Loone (Centre Party) and Toomas Kivimägi (Reform Party) took the floor.
Isamaa and Estonian Conservative People’s Party Factions moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. 18 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 45 voted against. Thus, the motion was not supported and the second reading of the Bill was concluded.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)
The video recording of the sitting will be available on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)