TALLINN – Prime minister candidate Kaja Kallas said in a speech made before the Estonian parliament on Tuesday, where she asked for MPs' support to form a government, that the coalition agreement has the face of war and Estonia's defense spending must increase and the state's income needs to be increased.
In her speech, Kallas highlighted that the Reform Party, Estonia 200 and the Social Democrats have put together a coalition agreement that contains their vision of the most important challenges facing Estonia. The prime minister candidate added that the agreement is a compromise and the result of searching for the greatest common ground.
"The biggest common denominator of the coalition is Estonia's independence, state finances that are in order, our economic success and values," Kallas said.
She pointed out that the document has the face of the war, as in every analysis it ends up at an assessment of the effects of the war quite quickly.
"The war has changed everything: our economy, the coping of our people, the prices of energy carriers and their availability," Kallas said, adding that the war has changed the tasks before us and, above all, the ways of finding solutions to them.
"Our eastern neighbor showed last year that it is capable of the most unpredictable and illogical steps," Kallas said, noting that all the neighbors are at risk.
She stressed that this is why Estonia's defense spending must increase.
"Without strengthening the defense capability, we cannot seriously talk about the future of our economy or about the kind of Estonia we will leave to our children and grandchildren," Kallas said.
"The purpose of increasing our defense spending is not to destroy our enemy, but to destroy our enemy's will to attack us," she added.
Kallas noted that we need to rethink the state budget priorities and return to seeking a balanced state budget.
"It will not be easy, it will mean sacrifices for all of us, and I have to ask all people of Estonia for patience and understanding. Understanding that we are not doing it all because we like it, but because it needs to be done. If we do not fix the state finances now, it will be much, much harder to fix it in a few years," Kallas said.
She pointed out that the state's debt burden has doubled in a few years, borrowing is no longer an alternative in a significantly more expensive credit environment, the state's reserves have been used up, and the only right way is to take a course towards a balanced state budget.
According to Kallas, current calculations indicate that it is necessary to cut expenses as well as increase the state's income. The prime minister candidate said that the coalition will revise the state budget.
"We will review every expense item in order to eliminate unnecessary expenses and use budget funds as wisely and economically as possible. We will reshape governance and reform the structure of ministries. We will do away with two ministers. We are not only asking ordinary citizens for savings. We see that state institutions must also contribute to this," she said.
"We will set, first, ensuring security, second, sustainability of state finances, third, carrying out green reforms, fourth, reducing regional underdevelopment, fifth, reducing income inequality and increasing healthy years of life and life expectancy, and sixth, personal state development and quality education as the political goals of the joint government," she said.
According to Kallas, the new coalition will continue with the transition to Estonian-language education and the organization of the school network, expanding the possibilities for maintaining elementary schools close to home. She indicated that this is directly related to Estonia's security.
"Communicating in one language, living in one information space is one of the best ways to ensure our ability to defend and the will to defend. A divided society is a tempting prey for an aggressor. Unity is a deterrent that makes the aggressor hesitate, fear and abandon their attack," Kallas said.
Finally, Kallas said that the Estonian people have always managed and been extremely successful. She pointed out that we can achieve anything we want because we are headstrong, stubborn, hardworking and successful people.
"We have enough wisdom and heart. We are able to help those in need and at the same time organize the life of our country in such a way that our descendants will also be happy and proud to live here," Kallas said.
The prime minister candidate answered numerous questions from members of the Riigikogu. Due to the end of the working hours of the session, the discussion will continue at the session starting at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.