Estonian PM acknowledges govt crisis, Reinsalu not to resign

Jüri Ratas.

PHOTO: Kuvatõmmis videost

Estonian Prime Minister on Friday acknowledged a crisis in the government coalition.

"The government discussion yesterday and the demand by the chairman of the Social Democratic Party today indicate that the coalition's work performance has suffered a serious blow," the prime minister wrote on social media on Friday morning.

Some 20 minutes earlier, chairman of the Estonian Social Democratic Party (SDE) Jevgeni Ossinovski had called upon the prime minister to dismiss Pro Patria member and Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu.

The dispute in the coalition stemmed from a discord between SDE and Pro Patria on the issue of whether or not to join the UN Global Compact on migration. Due to pressure by Pro Patria, the government did not endorse the agreement on Thursday. 

"I have always stressed that the role of the prime minister is to maintain the government's ability to work, always stand up for the interest of our state and people and enhance our international reputation. I will be guided by this principle today, too," Ratas said.

"I am currently on a tour of East-Viru County, but I will change my schedule and return to Tallinn earlier. I have called for an extraordinary Center Party board meeting today at 5 p.m. to discuss the situation that has arisen. I consider it my duty and task to ensure internal stability and an operational government regardless of the fact that the elections will take place in three months," the prime minister said.

Reinsalu not to resign

Estonia's Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu, of Pro Patria party, announced on Friday that he will not step down despite a demand made by the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDE), Jevgeni Ossinovski.

"The proposal of Jevgeni Ossinovsk came as no surprise for me and apparently also for the public," Reinsalu told reporters on Friday. He said the proposal by Ossinovski may have been driven by "the wish to put Pro Patria on its knees."

"A state cannot be led by someone on their knees. It cannot be expected from me," Reinsalu said.

"I find that Estonia has a functioning government now. This was demonstrated also by the day of yesterday," Reinsalu said.

Reinsalu said that Foreign Minister Sven Mikser on Thursday submitted to the government a proposal for Estonia to join the UN Global Compact, which the government discussed in depth. He said that as the leader of the Pro Patria government delegation he did not consider it possible to support that proposal, and considering the principle that decisions in the government are made by consensus, that decision was not made. As a result, Estonia will not join the aforementioned accord.

He also emphasized that Pro Patria's opposition to the migration deal was based on legal arguments. 

Estonian govt not in favor of endorsing UN migration deal

The Estonian government decided at a Cabinet sitting Thursday not to support the UN Global Compact on  migration.

"My proposal to support the migration accord was not supported by consensus. It was Pro Patria that blocked achieving this consensus, which means that we have to admit with regret that supporting the migration framework did not find support," Sven Mikser, who left the Cabinet meeting early, told Postimees.

"What happened today is not positive," Mikser added.