Kaimar Karu, EKRE's Minister of Information Technology and Foreign Trade, said that he did not agree with the accusations that had been levelled at him on Friday by EKRE, but accepted the decision of the party chairman to remove him from ministerial office.
On Friday morning, Karu wrote on social media chairman of EKRE Mart Helme had told him by phone he would be recalled from this ministerial position as the cooperation was not going well and there had been complaints from members of the party.
Speaking on ETV's "Ringvaade" on Friday evening, Karu said Helme had asked him how he wanted to move forward. "I said I would call the Prime Minister, which I did in the morning. The Prime Minister asked about the conversation. We discussed the situation and the ball remained in his court," Karu said.
Karu said at the moment he does not know the full extent of the allegations made against him made by the party. "If I knew exactly [what they were], it would be pretty good. There were some reasons for the discussion in the morning. [Yes, communication with the party was] rough, it can be said, but nothing that would have hindered our work or the performance of any task," said Karu.
He said deputy party chairman Martin Helme's accusation decisions in the ministry were not made by him but by officials remains incomprehensible.
"If the allegation is that the minister's portfolio is in the hands of officials, then this allegation is incomprehensible. If we come up with solutions together with the ministry of economic affairs and communications specialists and it can be interpreted as giving up the portfolio, then in that case - I am guilty," he commented.
"I basically do not agree with the accusations, the number of which has been growing throughout the day. But if the party leader thinks he cannot cooperate with one of his ministers, then he has the right to make decisions," Karu said.
He said the timing of his recall from office during the state of emergency remains deeply incomprehensible.
"If we are in an emergency situation and I have Kredex and Enterprise Estonia under me [in the ministry], which will have to pay out measures and provide loan guarantees to entrepreneurs in the coming weeks. In a situation where it needs to be launched as quickly as possible for businesses to survive, this timing is incomprehensible to me. If a new person takes over my role and the companies get their money, everything is okay. My fear is that it will get stuck," he said.
Karu said the reason for the recall could not be the fact that he is not a member of the party, although EKRE's leadership definitely wanted to become a member.
"It was with this deal that we agreed that the party wanted me to become a member of the party. For my part, I said that I was not ready to think about it and to put other things first. A few months ago we talked about it again, then my message was the same and the party leaders accepted it that we will talk again in the future. Over the past month, it has not been possible to think much about party membership," Karu said. He is not a member of any political party.
Karu said there is no point in blaming him for his political inexperience either because the party approached him when they needed a new ministerial candidate. He also dismissed the dispute over e-elections as the reason, because the Minister of IT and Foreign Trade does not decide whether to change the procedure of e-elections or to ban them.
On Friday, EKRE sources confirmed to ERR relations with Karu started to come under strain when said he did not support changes being made to the Aliens Act, which regulates migration.
Karu was also accused of weakness in the management of Eesti Post and of leaving too much decision-making power to the company's executive management.
EKRE chairman Mart Helme said Karu's activities have caused misunderstandings and questions among the party's members.
"We expect all our party ministers to act in accordance with the values and views of party supporters, including on issues such as immigration, migrant labor, e-elections and the provision of postal services in rural areas," said Helme.
Karu, an IT specialist, was a minister for EKRE but not a member of the party. He stepped into the role on November 2, replacing former minister Kert Kingo.
Editor: Helen Wright