Savisaar: MEPs Should Include at Least One Ethnic Russian ({{commentsTotal}})

Center Party Chairman Edgar Savisaar said at a party meeting that at least one person of ethnic Russian background should be included among Estonia's six members of European Parliament. 

"The European Parliament is certainly an important arena where national minorities living in Estonia must be represented," Savisaar said at the Saturday meeting.

"The situation last time, whereby the ranks of the MEPs did not include any Russians, was regrettable and the Center Party is the only party that can change it this time. I imagine the Social Democrats will also try to promise this to voters, but their chances of getting two mandates is minimal."

He said it would be important to Estonia's reputation in Europe for one ethnic Russian to be included among the MEPs.

"It would be even more important for Estonia's image in the eyes of its own people. The EU has been like a project for Estonians. It has to become something important for everyone living in Estonia. This will ensure peace on the home front and make both Estonia and the EU stronger.

Reinsalu responds, citing Latvian example

IRL head Urmas Reinsalu, who leads one of the two ruling parties, responded to Savisaar's idea, telling that the MEP should exemplify Estonia-minded values and practice a uniting, not a divisive, policy.

"We've seen in Latvia how Tatyana Zhdanoka has transformed the European Parliament pulpit into a forum against Latvia and the other Baltics, where she attacks these countries," said Reinsalu.

"Last week brought the latest travesty from her, where she accused me and the Latvian defense minister of 'fascism,'" he said. "So this opinion from Savisaar sounds more like a threat, not a promise of Estonia-minded politics."

At its meeting on Saturday, Center elected its 12 candidates who will stand for European Parliament elections. Savisaar leads the list, but he said it isn't certain whether he will remain there on election day. "I am not a decoy duck on this occasion," he said.

Center's preference for EU Commissioner

In other comments, Savisaar said the European commissioner post should belong to an Estonian opposition party as support for the coalition parties is currently lower.

"Estonia will go to the polls for general elections less than six months after the commissioner is appointed and likely there will be a change of government," he said. "It won't be good for Estonia or Europe if the commissioner's seat is filled by a representative of a party that is no longer in power at home. He said the Center Party's Jüri Ratas would be the candidate, and that environment would be the most appropirate portfolio.

But, Savisaar said, his party would also settle for the Social Democrats' Ivari Padar as commissioner, whose portfolio would be agriculture.

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