Prime Minister Jüri Ratas replied to the interpellation concerning a violation of the declaration of independence of the Republic of Estonia and §§ 1 and 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia (No. 362), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Igor Gräzin, Mart Helme, Kalle Laanet, Johannes Kert, Deniss Boroditš, Madis Milling and Henn Põlluaas on 8 May 2017.
The interpellators referred to the fact that, on 3 May, the quorum of the Government of the Republic of Estonia had been in its working session in Belgium which meant that it had been outside the territory of the republic. The interpellators wished to know on what basis and with whose permission a branch of power of sovereign Estonia had been taken out of the territory of Estonia, de facto out of the control of the parliament of Estonia.
Ratas confirmed that the session of the Government held in Brussels on 3 May had been held in accordance with the Constitution, the Government of the Republic Act as well as the rules of the Government of the Republic, that is, current legislation. He added that the Chancellor of Justice had also reached the same conclusion in her position issued on 13 June.
“According to the Constitution, lower-level legislation does not preclude convention of the Government outside the Republic of Estonia, and thus there are no grounds to consider convention of the Government to sessions outside the Republic of Estonia in any way impermissible,” Ratas said. He explained that, under the rules of the Government, the Government sessions were held in Stenbock House in Tallinn as a general rule, but the time and place of a session could be changed by a decision of the Prime Minister. The legislation does not provide that a Government session can be held only at the territory of Estonia. The rules also allow for a Government session to be carried out via means of communication. With today’s technical possibilities, such a possibility is reasonable. This has been done as necessary and will presumably be done in the future as well.
Ratas noted that the Government session had been held – a very important indication – at the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Estonia to the European Union in Brussels. Similarly to an embassy, this is a territory under Estonia’s jurisdiction where Estonian laws and legal space apply.
Ratas explained that the Government had not in any way been outside the control of the parliament. He noted that the Government sessions were held without the participation of members of the parliament. The venue of a session of the Government does not affect the use of parliamentary control mechanisms arising from the Constitution. Ratas said that the decisions adopted at the session on 3 May were in accordance with the current law and were thus legitimate.
The Prime Minister also replied to the interpellation concerning Team Estonia and the course of Estonia’s foreign economic policy (No. 363).
The Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu replied to the interpellation concerning the appeal of Kender’s case and a waste collection cartel in Tallinn (No. 365).
The sitting ended at 5.02 p.m.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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