Mikser counters Reinsalu's move for quick points

Joosep Värk
, reporter
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Photo: Mihkel Maripuu

The government does not support the justice minister's opinion on what to do with the registered partnership act that comes two months too late. Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (IRL) returned from holiday last week and communicated his ministry's opinion of draft legislation by the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) to repeal Estonia's registered partnership act. Despite an existing agreement, the minister could not resist an attempt to score some quick political points.

Reinsalu's ministry was supposed to form an opinion of the bill nearly two months ago, by June 8, when the opinions of the interior and social affairs ministries were communicated by ministers Andres Anvelt and Jevgeni Ossinovski. However, the matter could not be added to the government's agenda as the opinion of the key ministry was missing.

Reinsalu shelved the matter until Sunday last when ETV news program «Aktuaalne kaamera» reported the justice ministry will approve the bill. «Rule of law requires legal clarity. The cohabitation act has not been given content through valid implementing provisions. 99 percent of legal relations the law, as a contractual act, regulates can be entered into without the legal basis it provides, which is to say the step is purely legal,» Reinsalu explained, and added that the ministry's position is clear and unequivocal.

The professional opinion of ministry officials remains somewhat less clear. The ministry initially sent out an opinion bearing Reinsalu's signature that said the government should approve the implementing provisions, while it sent out the diametrically opposite position of the minister the very next day. Information available to Postimees suggests officials once again submitted a written position against repealing the registered partnership act that was then rewritten by Reinsalu.

When the matter became public, it sparked a sharp comment from Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE). He wrote that Reinsalu's statement, wrapped in a shroud of legal jargon as it might be, to support EKRE's bill falls in the same category as IRL's proposals to ban burqas and demand Moscow pay Estonia damages for the Soviet occupation. «These are attempts to deliver the party's sinking ship by virtue of isolated populist screams that fail to form an ideological whole or result in any kind of systematic action,» Mikser wrote on social media.

Mikser wrote that mortal fear causes panic, and that it is every bit as true concerning political parties. «A state of panic is obviously not ideal for sober analysis, while the latter would quickly lead IRL to conclude that its rare successes of the past few years have not come courtesy of trying to mimic EKRE's medieval understanding of traditional family values or win the race for the title of «most nationalist» party,» he wrote.

It is probable one of the reasons for the minister's sharp reaction was the fact the coalition had previously agreed that the registered partnership act would neither be repealed nor its implementing provisions passed. The social democrats supported the law, while IRL was against it. Centrists voted both ways and have later blocked the implementing provisions from reaching the floor.

Postimees' information suggests the decision to suspend the act in limbo so to speak was revisited in May when Helir-Valdor Seeder came to head IRL. While Seeder is a passionate opponent of the law, he consented to leave the matter be in the interests of the coalition's health.

Reinsalu wished to attract attention knowing the government would not approve EKRE's bill to repeal the act. Hence his reply to Mikser's comment. «At first it was claimed the act would regulate the relationships of 100,000 couples in open marriages. It is not true. Then it was claimed it would not concern adoption of the children of third persons. Also not true. Next it was said the law has nothing to do with marriage. Again, not true, as the spirit of the law was to introduce the concept of a parallel marriage into the legal order,» Reinsalu said.