Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi, who suggested Education Minister Jevgeni Ossinovski does not fully understand the implication of the Soviet occupation in an Internet rant earlier in the week, said he will resign.
"After weighing the matter I have decided to resign as the Minister of Finance. The reason for the step is that Estonia is more important to me than my ministerial position,“ he said on Sunday, adding that he is also resigning so that the current Reform Party and Social Democrat government can continue to work in peace.
Ligi did apologize on Thursday but maintained he had not disparaged the Social Democratic minister's Russian-Estonian ethnic background.
"It is difficult for me as Jürgen Ligi has been a very strong finance minister the past five years,“ PM Taavi Rõivas said. "He had the necessary strength during the economic crisis.“
Ossinovski himself said shortly after the announcement that the decision was the only correct path. He told Delfi it was a lesson for Estonian democracy.
The most quoted part of Ligi's paragraph-long rant on Facebook was that Ossinovski was "an immigrant's son from the pink party." He also said he was "rootless" and ignorant." The context was a spat over the degree to which the Soviet occupation was to blame for Estonia not being a Scandinavian-style social welfare county with enough cash for social services. The two had disagreed the night before on an ETV program, but the exchange there had been civil.
Ossinovski is one of the few senior politicians in post-restoration Estonia whose father or mother was a non-Estonian who came to the country during the Soviet occupation. Although he comments more frequently on matters of language and citizenship in some forums, his political views largely align with other Estonian colleagues.
Estonians themselves are sensitive to ethnic issues, as Russification policies orchestrated by Moscow have been a fixture of regimes already since the late 1800s. During the Soviet occupation, the percentage of Estonians fell from 88 percent to just 60 percent.