Kaljurand: Helme's garish rhetoric can’t change Estonians' behavior and attitude (15)
Martin Helme, chairman of the parliamentary group of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE), finds that a potential presidential candidacy of Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand would be a problem not only because of the Reform Party’s political games - but because she is Russian.
Kaljurand expressed regret about Helme’s statement and said that she had always acted in the interest of Estonia. “Yes, I’m Russian, I’m an Estonian citizen and an Estonian patriot and I’m proud of it. Estonia is the country I was born in and my home, and I honor and love Estonia. I have defended Estonia’s interests in all of my career, also as ambassador in Moscow on from April and May 2007, when Estonia’s position had to be defended in a time of direct and physical aggression of Russian youth organizations,” Kaljurand said to daily Sakala.
When in the time of Andrus Ansip’s second administration the Bronze Soldier, a controversial Soviet World War II memorial, was moved from its prominent location on Tõnismägi to the Tallinn Military Cemetery, riots broke out in the capital.
At that time, Russian anti-Estonian propaganda became hysterical enough to trigger attacks against Kaljurand, who at the time was Estonia’s ambassador in Moscow. Considering her political and physical exposure, Helme, who frequently chooses to take the position of defender of all that his party sees as righteously Estonian, could be expected to be rather pleased about so fervent a defender of his country - but apparently not.
“Helme and his garish rhetoric can’t change my I or any other Estonian's behavior and attitude,” Kaljurand said. She added that she would continue to defend Estonia’s interests both as Foreign Minister and as a citizen.
Ilves: Only the person and their acts matter
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves commented on Helme’s statement, placing the MP on the political far right, where somehow EKRE seems to keep ending up despite its assurances to the contrary.
“Language that attacks a person for their ethnicity - inappropriate, vulgar, insulting, and trampling on the constitution - is outside our cultural area. This wannabe supremacism is outside our Estonia. Outside our Europe. Estonia won’t become a country where someone’s worth is judged by the purity of their blood, their ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, or anything else of the kind. Only the person and their acts matter,” Ilves said.
Helme: Get used to it
Helme defended his statement on Facebook on Friday. “We indeed live in a corrupt political age where the point of view that the president of Estonia should be an Estonian isn’t self-evident,” Helme wrote, adding that such a statement triggered a hysterical media scandal instead.
For all those who were shocked by his statement, he had a rhetorical question, he said. “Why are you surprised that a nationalist party considers nationality an important part of someone’s identity? And a rhetorical question for the broader public: Can’t there be a single party that stands up for the Estonian people?”
Helme seemed undeterred by the fact that the same people didn’t agree with him. More than 90% of Estonian voters did not choose his party to represent them in the last national elections, and even in the most recent polls, support didn’t exceed 14%. In his own words: “Get used to it.”