TALLINN - Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said on Thursday she will not attend the president's Independence Day reception on Feb. 24 out of solidarity with members of the Riigikogu.
"We are a parliamentary state and parliament is therefore extremely important," Kallas said at the government's press conference, noting that the president decided not to invite many members of parliament to the country's anniversary reception in February.
Kallas pointed out that pursuant to Estonia's constitutional order, the parliament elects both the prime minister and the president, and whether one likes the members of the parliament or dislikes them is irrelevant.
"I will not go to the president's reception out of solidarity," Kallas, leader of the Reform Party, said.
Finance Minister Mart Vorklaev said that he, too, doesn't think the head of state's decision is appropriate, but he will accept the invitation.
"I am going first and foremost to celebrate the birthday of the Republic of Estonia," said Vorklaev, minister from the Reform Party.
Minister of Health Riina Sikkut said that she will attend the reception on the evening of Feb. 24, and expressed surprise that the president's decision had caused so much controversy.
"The president has the power to decide who he invites," the Social Democrat minster said.
Minister of Education and Research Kristina Kallas also said she was surprised that the president's decision had attracted so much attention.
"I will not be attending the reception in person, but only because I have a very important family event at the same time," Kallas, minister from Estonia 200 party, said.
The news broke late last week that this year, President Alar Karis will not send invitations to the country's top event of the year to all members of the Riigikogu. Of MPs, only the board of the Riigikogu, the chairs and vice chairs of committees and the leaders of political groups are invited to attend the event.