At today’s second extraordinary sitting, the Riigikogu authorised the candidate for Prime Minister Kaja Kallas to form a Government. 52 members of the Riigikogu supported Kallas and 26 were against.
Kallas began her report with emphasising that although the coalition with the Centre Party had ended, she could not say anything bad about the cooperation with them during the last year and a half. “To a great extent, and especially in the Government, our cooperation was excellent and effective. As it turned out, we found ourselves running the country at a very difficult time, and at times it seemed that things could not get any worse. Presently, I am not so optimistic about the last statement. At that time, I made a list of the ongoing crises: the health crisis, the economic crisis, the mental health crisis, the crisis of values, the corruption crisis, the crisis of international reputation and the truth crisis,” Kallas said.
Kallas pointed out that the truth crisis had not disappeared anywhere and unfortunately the politicians had the tendency to twist the truth very seriously, especially in complicated times. “Of course, I, too, remember Plato’s statement that truth is relative, which I learned in philosophy lectures at university. However, this does not mean that a total lie will become true only because someone presents it as the truth and persistently repeats it. In an open society, there should be no room for presenting outright lies with the purpose of splitting society. I said to you when I asked for the mandate to form the last Government, and I repeat it also today: I wish that Estonia would be a place where it is good to live, good to think, good to work, good to raise children, and good to enjoy our beautiful nature. I wish to see Estonia smile, and not frown and withdraw into a corner with its fist in its pocket. I wish to see an Estonia that is open to new ideas and interesting opinions, an Estonia that is moving towards the future with a brave, wide and smart look,” she stated.
Kallas underlined that the most important tasks faced by the new Government were ensuring our security, implementing measures to manage the energy crisis, and helping people cope with their daily life under the conditions of a rapid price rise. Kallas said that Estonia had many friends in the world and actually only one enemy – Russia, because of whom we were in the most serious security crisis after the restoration of our independence and who, besides direct military activities, had greatly contributed to the increase of energy prices and the inflation resulting from it, and had thus caused instability in society. “Russia’s behaviour has once again unambiguously reminded us of a truth that has been known for a long time: never again alone, never again under Russian influence.” Kallas emphasised that Estonia was well protected, but the changed security situation required that we invested more in national defence. She pointed out that in the next year’s budget our defence spending would rise to 2.5% of our gross domestic product and mentioned some specific investments.
“In this context, I would like to focus on maybe the most important task of the new government in ensuring Estonia’s long-term security. This is the total transition to Estonian-language education as soon as possible,” Kallas said. “Transition to Estonian-language education involves very many challenges faced by the Estonian society – education, security, economy, integration of society. Therefore, this reform is priceless for long-term functioning of Estonia. Let us not ignore the fact that in the case of Russia’s aggressions against its neighbouring countries, the primary pretext has been the need to protect the Russian-speaking people living in these countries. Transition to Estonian-language education should have taken place a long time ago, but unfortunately this reform has not been carried out in the last 30 years. The new Government will begin with the activities ensuring transition to Estonian-language education immediately, starting from this autumn. Besides that, already this year we will submit to the Parliament a Bill that will become a basis for launching the transition in kindergartens and schools as soon as in 2024. By 2030, all education in Estonia will be in Estonian, the official language of Estonia.”
Kallas went on to say that livelihood of people is also a part of security, and the new Government sets as its aim to adopt amendments to the Electricity Market Act that would make it possible for household customers to buy electricity as a universal service. “To this end, we will oblige Nord Pool as a company that holds a dominant position in the Estonian region to sell the electricity it produces to household customers and small consumers and to all electricity resellers in Estonia at a price that is approved by the Competition Authority and takes into account carbon emissions and other production costs and a reasonable profit.” Kallas added that as the power exchange had brought low electricity prices to the people of Estonia for a long time, we did not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Therefore, the planned Bill must be in line with EU law and state aid rules, treat all market participants and electricity resellers equally, and not hinder Estonia’s transition to renewable energy. “Besides supporting people, it is also important to focus on resolving long-term problems. Therefore, our coalition has agreed on measures that would help boost investment in energy. For example, simplifying planning processes, solving bottlenecks in connection capacity and supporting the renovation of apartment buildings and private houses. We have set a target to produce as much renewable energy in 2030 as we consume in electricity,” Kallas said.
According to Kallas, the second important step the new Government will take to support the livelihood of people is significantly increasing the child benefits, single parent’s child allowance and allowance for families with many children. The third component to ensure the livelihood of people includes measures such as a 30% increase in the basic exemption from income tax and a reduction of the burden relating to long-term care. Kallas added that funding of higher education was also a very important part of the coalition agreement.
Kallas admitted that the coming autumn and winter would not be easy. “There is no sign of the end of the war in Ukraine, the energy prices do not show a tendency to fall, COVID is gathering strength again and the situation in economy may also become more complicated. In these circumstances, it is important for Estonia to have a united and committed majority government. I am confident that the government that is currently being formed will be able to lead Estonia successfully in these difficult times.”
The candidate for Prime Minister replied to numerous questions of members of the Riigikogu.
The Riigikogu passed an Act
The Act on Amendments to the Fertilisers Act, the Chemicals Act and the Product Conformity Act (614 SE), initiated by the Government, will harmonise and update the manufacturing and quality requirements for fertilizers marketed in the European Union.
The current system based on a list of types of fertilizers will be replaced with a more flexible one. Fertilisers will be divided into product function categories, and raw materials eligible for use in the production of fertilisers will be divided into component material categories. The new requirements for the manufacturing and marketing of fertilizers will mark a transition to an approach based on circular economy. This means that, in the future, by-products of various branches of industry will be allowed to be recovered as fertilising products. As a result of this, it will be easier for manufacturers to combine products based on different component materials, and the range of fertilising products will be expanded.
76 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.
The third extraordinary session will be held on Monday at 3 p.m. The agenda for the session will include the Government’s oath of office, and the third reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Law of Ship Flag and Registers of Ships Act and the Maritime Safety Act (571 SE), initiated by the Government.
The sitting ended at 12.22 p.m.
Photos (Erik Peinar, Riigikogu)
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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