Reform Party meeting to discuss next steps following Helme Finland remarks
Leading members of the Reform Party are meeting on Monday to discuss what steps to take in the wake of comments made by interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) criticizing new Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and her government.
"This government must resign immediately, but Mart Helme's resignation is not enough to restore Estonia's credibility. How long do we have to endure the defamation and wastage of our country?" asked former Prime Minister and current MEP Andrus Ansip asked, according to ERR.
Helme was also criticized by another former Reform Party prime minister, Taavi Rõivas.
"I love living in a country where everyone is valued for their personal ability, not their origin. I have also worked as a paperboy and warehouse worker during my school years, and I am proud of it," he wrote, according to ERR.
"Helme's insult to the Finnish prime minister is an abomination and will greatly damage the across-the-water friendship," Rõivas added.
Mart Helme had referred to Sanna Marin as a 'cashier', a role she had reportedly held when she was younger, and said that the Finnish coalition (made up of the same five parties as it had been under Marin's predecessor, Antti Rinne) consisted of 'reds', ready to sell out Finland to the EU.
Making his remarks on TRE Raadio talk show Räägime asjast on Sunday morning, Helme also referred to the Finnish Civil War of 1918 – like Estonia, Finland had been under Russian rule prior to the 1917 revolutions – which saw red forces defeated by the whites.
Ansip and Rõivas joined Reform MEP Urmas Paet, and the party's leader, Kaja Kallas, in their condemnation of Helme's remarks.
"Talking on the radio that the Finnish government is trying to destroy the Finnish state is a far-sighted mental problem," Paet said.
''It is so embarrassing for the Estonian government to act this way towards the Finnish people, the Finnish Prime Minister and women," Kaja Kallas tweeted on Sunday evening.
''Helme seems to think we have too many friends. This is Estonia [in] 2019," she added.
Reform initiated a vote of no-confidence in Helme in late May, which was defeated. It also brought unsuccessful votes of no-confidence in Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) in late August, and in rural affairs minister Mart Järvik (EKRE) last month. The latter was nonetheless released from office late last month.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte