President Kersti Kaljulaid gave an interview to daily Postimees on Monday saying that she had asked Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) to dismiss interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE), though Ratas rejected the idea, she said.
Kaljulaid also told the daily (link in Estonian) that while the option may have been on the table in late April when the coalition first entered office not to appoint Mart Helme, it was not constitutionally clear whether she could have done this and therefore not worth risking overstepping her role – with the majority of lawyers seeing her position as being on of "state notary", adding that in some sense at least the current coalition of Centre, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa could be infringing Article 12 of the constitution which states that all are equal in the eyes of the law, regardless of nationality, race, colour, sex, language, origin, religion, political or other views, property or social status, or on other grounds.
This was particularly the case, the president felt, in Mart Helme's intervention in and attempts to shape the direction of, Estonia's foreign policy (referring to claims Helme made in an interview with Finnish daily Ilta-Sanomat that Estonia needed a 'plan B' as an alternative to NATO – a plan which he envisaged featuring Finland, which is not in NATO, and Sunday's remarks about new Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin and her government), adding her embarrassment about the matter, expressed to her Finnish opposite number Sauli Niinistö, as well as the need for small countries like Estonia to have partners and allies, particularly in the same region.
President Kaljulaid also noted a paradox whereas in the past, it seemed to be language which united the two countries – given they belong to the same Finno-Ugric group of languages – and most other things to set them apart, today, the reverse is more the case, something which causes her sadness, she said.
President Kaljulaid also said she saw it as her role to speak out on issues, in the face of calm and rational discussion being curtailed as institutions came under attack, noting that Jüri Ratas has some tough choices ahead given the interior minister's tendency to ignore his, Ratas', position, and that of his government, opining that the prime minister's role is primarily to take steps to ensure the government is made up of people who advance Estonia, as well as its security and relationships with its allies.
Editor: Andrew Whyte