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Estonian prime minister calls to stop playing "Russian card"

Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonia. Photo: sputnik-news.ee

Jüri Ratas, the leader of the Centre Party and Prime Minister of Estonia, confirmed that the Centrists expect to win the parliamentary elections in spring 2019, and called all political forces to stop using the so-called "Russian card".

"We do not do this (run for parliament - EADaily) out of a desire to stay in power at any cost. We do not do this simply because for too long, sixteen years, we were the second. We are going to win the elections, because the Centre Party can still do much for the Estonian state and people," Ratas said at a meeting of the Centre Party Commissioners Council, held in Kohtla-Järve, err.ee reports.

According to Ratas, the party will go to the elections with certain promises, an updated program and a future-oriented development concept. "This year, the Centre Party will not limit itself to drawing up the electoral platform. We decided to develop three important documents, which would focus both on the next years and the program positions of the party, and on future decades," the prime minister stated. Jüri Ratas confirmed that for the next party congress a work group led by Aadu Must will update the program of the Centrists, which has not changed since 2005. It will include the main promises of the party to voters, indicating their cost and sources of finance.

In addition, under the leadership of the deputy chairman of the party Kadri Simson, the concept of the "Vision of Estonia 2040" will be developed, indicating the goals to be achieved in the next twenty years. According to Ratas, in Estonia the so-called "Russian card" has been cynically used for decades but now this practice should be stopped. "The Estonian state and the people are of great value to be split by polarization and lies in the jubilee year (the centennial of the proclamation of Estonian statehood - EADaily)," said the chairman of the party, adding that the people of Estonia want worthy and substantial debates, rather than splitting society on the national issue.

According to Yana Toom, a Central Party’s board member and Estonian MEP, the need to refuse betting on the national card in the political life of Estonia is great, but a wide public consensus for this still has been lacking in the country. "Stop the division into "we" and "they". This, of course, concerns non-citizens, the citizenship policy, the language and all the national stuff, that unfortunately we "love" very much. This requires a huge political consensus in society, but unfortunately, it does not. And for me, the fact that the recent speech of our president addressed to Estonians by ethnic origin and not by political nationality caused such support of the society, is a very bad massage," Toom said in an interview with "The Live Camera" TV program.

As a result of the meeting, the Centre Party Commissioners Council adopted a statement in which the social and economic initiatives of the Centrists, such as the progressive income tax and an extraordinary increase in pensions, were highly appreciated. The statement also states that for fifteen months at the head of the government the Centrists destroyed the myth that only the policy of the Reform Party (now opposition) can contribute to the progress of Estonia.

To remind, the key problems of the Russian-speaking population of Estonia are the absence of any official status of their native language and presence of 80 thousand non-citizens. Non-citizens do not have political rights, they cannot run for elective positions, work for civil service, firefighters, and emergency response workers. Moreover, not all countries recognize non-citizen passports.

"For many years, non-citizens pretended that they simply could not make a choice, whether they would go to Russian citizenship, or take the Estonian one. This gave them certain social benefits. But they have a lot of restrictions. I had a case with a woman who has a husband from South Africa, and she has a gray passport. A child was born and could not be registered, because in some sense there is no mother", the Estonian MEP Yana Toom said earlier. According to her, in Estonia in the eyes of the political establishment and society, Russians are presented as a source of threat. "Because Russia is close and there is a tradition of being afraid of it. In order to suppress civil and political activity, everyone must be motivated and an internal threat should be created. You will think it ten times whether to open your mouth or not, because you are an enemy of the state," Yana Toom concluded.

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