Kaljulaid apologizes to Finnish president for Helme's comments

Archive photograph of President Kersti Kaljulaid and President of Finland Sauli Niinistö.
Archive photograph of President Kersti Kaljulaid and President of Finland Sauli Niinistö. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid apologized for comments made by the Estonian Minister of the Interior about the new Finnish prime minister in a telephone call to the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö on Monday.

"President Kaljulaid asked President Niinistö to issue an apology to the Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin and to the Government [on her behalf]," a statement said on the website of the Finnish President. The telephone call was suggested by Kaljulaid.

Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) chairman and Minister of the Interior Mart Helme verbally attacked Finland's new government on Sunday, calling them "reds" that are trying to destroy the country. He also personally criticized Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin, who took office on December 10 questioning how someone who had once worked as a salesgirl could become prime minister.

"I would still recall [Soviet leader] Vladimir Ulyanov-Lenin's saying that every cook could become a minister, or something to that effect," he said. "Now we can see that a salesgirl has become prime minister and some other street activist and uneducated person has also become a member of the government."

He commented more broadly on the Finnish government as well.

"Now we can actually see to some extent how the historical revenge of the reds on the whites is taking place — that is to say, the reds who wanted to liquidate the Finnish state in the [Finnish Civil War of 1918] already have now come to power and are now desperately trying to liquidate Finland, turning it into some kind of europrovince which may still be called Suomi or Finland as a territory, but which in fact completely drags along the tail of the ideological philosophy of the so-called fukuyama-esque end of history."

Helme later explained that he had been expressing an opinion regarding Finland's new government based on his personal as well as his party's positions. He confirmed that cooperation and ties of friendship between Estonia and Finland would continue.

In a social media post, which did not reference Helme's comments but was posted after the incident was reported by the media, Marin said: "I'm extremely proud of Finland. Here the child of a poor family can educate themselves highly and reach many goals in life. A cashier can become Prime Minister, for instance. Finland would not survive without its workers. I highly value the work of every employee, professional and entrepreneur!"

Members of the opposition parties, Reform and the Social Democrats, have called for Prime Minister Jüri Ratas to dismiss Helme from his position in the government, threatening to call a vote of no confidence in the EKRE chairman if he does not.  


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Editor: Helen Wright

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