Helmes: Social affairs equality campaign causing governmental split

Martin (foreground) and Mart Helme.
Martin (foreground) and Mart Helme. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) and finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE) have hit out at a Ministry of Social Affairs campaign which highlights a need for equality, saying it could lead to a split in the coalition the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) is in with the Center Party and Isamaa.

The initiative, which carries the slogan "Kõik on erinevad, kuid sama palju inimesed" ("everyone is different but equally human") is a slight, according to the two ministers, should not use taxpayers' money to fund it, and could lead to their party not sharing office with social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center).

"It is a slight on us," Mart Helme said on TRE Raadio broadcast "Räägime asjast" on Sunday, online news portal Delfi reports (link in Estonian); "in other words we have a very deep thorn in our soul," he added, going on to say that the campaign was conducted without consulting EKRE as a coalition partner, and tantamount to a stab in the back to it and the other coalition partner (i.e. Isamaa).

The pair also criticized the use of public funds, be they from the Estonian taxpayer or the EU, with Martin Helme likening the move to scattering euros across Lake Peipsi, Estonia's largest lake, which makes up the bulk of its eastern border, and said that they had strongly communicated their views to both Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) and Tanel Kiik.

The "Kõik on erinevad, kuid sama palju inimesed" campaign ad from the Ministry of Social Affairs Source: Ministry of Social Affairs

"We can't go on like this, it's not acceptable to us ... If this is done with the approval of the minister, at some point we will no longer be in the same government with that minister," Martin Helme went on, stressing what he saw as a double standard as well as a split in the coalition, given comments made about EKRE's rhetoric by other coalition members.

TRE Raadio is a private commercial radio station owned by EKRE MP Siim Pohlak.

The ad drawn up by the social affairs ministry has appeared on outdoor advertising hoardings as well as online, and features a relatively diverse quartet of people, including actor Sandra Ashilevi and conductor and activist Keio Soomelt (see picture). It also carries a twitter hashtag, #samapaljuinimene.

Urmas Paet comment

Commenting on the Helme's words on Sunday, MEP Urmas Paet (Reform) noted with disapproval that: "There are still characters in the government who think that people with disabilities, people of a different color, homosexuals and otherwise 'different' people are not the same [as everyone else]."

"It is unbelievable that in 21st century Estonia, these types of hatreds exist in the government," he added.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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