Finance minister: I won't attend independence day reception either

Finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE) says he will not be attending the traditional presidential evening reception on independence day, February 24. Helme's announcement follows Prime Minister Jüri Ratas' declaration that he would not be attending.

Helme posted on his social media account on Saturday, ERR's online news in Estonian reports, noting that he thought Ratas had not done anything wrong in making the decision not to attend, adding that it was President Kersti Kaljulaid who should shoulder the blame.

"In fact, we still have to ask ourselves very seriously he has done wrong towards the person making the invitation, that for the first time since regaining independence, the prime minister will not be attending the reception," Helme wrote.

"The answer, it seems to me, is that the person making the invite (i.e. President Kaljulaid-ed.) has done virtually everything she possibly could. She has been dismantling the institution [of president] and the unwritten rules that support it, and the rules of political culture, from day one. She views the office of the president as her own personal affair to live out in her own way, not as a public institution. There is therefore no justification for requiring that her invitation be answered 'out of respect for the institution'. I have never seen that a person holding the post of president for the sake of earning a wage would show respect for this institution itself. Why then should anyone else be asked for such respect?" Helme continued.

"Kersti Kaljulaid, who is shamelessly brazen in her day-to-day political agenda, has shown contempt, not only for the people, but has repeatedly expressed her intolerance towards the people's political choices in the elections. She has also shown contempt for the constitutional order by attempting to hijack political power, which is not provided for in the Constitution by demanding a say in the composition of the government. Therefore, the threat to constitutional order comes exactly from her office. She skips the traditional events that accompany the office, from attending a church service to hosting a lunch for the government, and in the meantime, [makes] a hundred less visible decisions."

"I will not go to the reception either. I know several other ministers who will not go. [Interior minister] Mart [Helme] did not respond to her invitation to take coffee and discuss the political situation prior to Christmas. What for? What is there more to discuss?" Helme added.

Jüri Ratas said in a recent end-of-year interview with ERR's Russian-language TV channel ETV+ that he would not be attending the reception, held in recent years at the Estonian National Museum (ERM). While Ratas said he was dismayed by the president's recent remarks that the current coalition of his Centre Party, Mart Helme's Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and the Isamaa party, presented a threat to the country's national security, he denied that any rift was the cause of his non-attendance, citing a desire to be with family instead.

Ratas also did not attend the traditional Rose Garden reception at Kadriorg Palace, seat of the president, on Restoration of Independence day in late August, though he told ETV+ he would be attending the annual military parade and other events at Vabaduse väljak during the daytime on February 24.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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