Minister of the Interior and Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) chairman Mart Helme said that he is apologizing to Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, but has accused the press of having stressed the wrong thing. Helme said that he has not insulted the Finns.
"That specific sentence about the Finnish prime minister, which you have interpreted as demeaning, I have actually interpreted as complimentary — as recognition that someone can work their way up from a low social standing to the peak of politics," Helme said following a meeting of the coalition council on Monday.
"Second, if anyone has misunderstood this thanks in large part to the emphasis of the Estonian press, then truly, I'd like to say that I apologize to the Finnish prime minister, if this misinterpretation has been amplified in Finland as well," he continued.
"Now as regards Finns that I have allegedly insulted, then I have not insulted Finns, but rather also repeatedly said and I will say once again that the Finns' contribution to our War of Independence was irreplaceable."
Helme stressed that he has no bones to pick with the people of Finland, but added that as a conservative and a nationalist he is worried about the possible course of Finland's current government.
According to the interior minister, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) did not propose that he resign from his position.
Ratas likewise confirmed that the coalition will move forward together. "I have not spoken with the interior minister about dismissing him or submitting [a call for his resignation] to Kadriorg," Ratas said.
The head of government added that he had also not suggested that Helme himself resign.
Editor: Aili Vahtla