Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) defended his equality campaign against criticism made by the Minister of the Interior (EKRE) and said it will not cause the government to fall apart.
Speaking on ETV's "Ringvaade" on Thursday Kiik explained the ministry's campaign "Everyone is different but equally human". He said: "The aim of the campaign is to emphasize that all people are equal and reduce discrimination in society, including at work and at school."
"The point of the campaign is that we do not have a minority of different categories, no different categories of people at all. Each of us is in some sense a minority, and every one can be a member, even if they are a minority because of their age."
Kiik said the campaign's message has not reached Mart Helme, chairman of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Minister of the Interior. "Whether he has misunderstood or misinterpreted it. The campaign emphasizes that we are all equal people, regardless of our beliefs, disability, nationality or orientation," he said.
During the Riigikogu briefing on Wednesday, Mart Helme had to explain to the opposition why he does not agree with the campaign. On Sunday he criticized the idea of the campaign with Minister of Finance Martin Helme, his son, in his radio show "Räägime asjast."
Mart Helme said the budget debate in the spring will also critically review the Ministry of Social Affairs' spending, where too much money has been earmarked for "propaganda" that splits society. Helme also mentioned EKRE's demand to remove Kiik from the ministry.
Kiik said: "Certainly this campaign will not divide society, let's face it. This statement is not valid. The campaign has been created to have weaken these divisions."
Speaking about the threat to dismiss him from office, Kiik said: "I have been called [to the position] by the Prime Minister, Jüri Ratas, and appointed by the President," said Kiik. "And I don't think the government will fall apart because of one social campaign."
Kiik said that there had been discussions in the government on equality with representatives of EKRE and there were differences of opinion on some issues.
"At the same time, interfering in another minister's area of government is disturbing and annoying, and it would be foolish of me to argue over the width of the sandbar on the eastern border or estimate what weapons the police should carry," said Kiik, referring to the work of the Minister of the Interior.
Editor: Helen Wright