Yle: In stepping down, ambassador to Finland influencing domestic politics

Harri Tiido in the ERR studios Monday.
Harri Tiido in the ERR studios Monday. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Outgoing Estonian ambassador to Finland Harri Tiido is not being wholly sincere in his assessment of the situation, according to a comment piece on Finnish public broadcaster Yle's Swedish-language page, exaggerating the sway the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has over Estonia's foreign policy and the damage done by then-EKRE leader Mart Helme's remarks about Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin late last year.

Tiido is in fact influencing domestic politics, the article argues.

Of greater concern should be current foreign minister and Tiido's boss, Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) the piece goes on.

As reported on ERR News, while Harri Tiido being recalled from his post after two years was already known earlier in the summer, the ambassador went public about his reasons in an interview with Yle at the weekend, saying that he could no longer represent a government which included EKRE in its ranks, as they presented a diplomatic headache, bordering on a security risk.

However, Tiido, 66, is overstating things, the Swedish-language Yle piece, penned by Gustaf Antell, says, doing so intentionally as his words and actions play into the hands of the two opposition parties, Reform and the Social Democratic Party (SDE), both of whom expressed their support for Tiido.

While Tiido may be right to express concern over EKRE being the second-largest party in the coalition after Center, the piece argues, the party's influence over a foreign policy which has remained consistent since Jüri Ratas (Center) became prime minister in 2016 is minimal.

Moreover, Sanna Marin herself does not seem to have taken Mart Helme's remarks, made late last year, in which he referred to the newly elected Finnish premier as a mere "salesgirl", either to heart or as a reason to change Finland's foreign policy course towards it southern neighbor, the piece argues.

Of more concern, however, is foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu who, sources for the piece say, has had a tendency to put his foot in it when speaking publicly and had displayed tendency to act boastfully at foreign meetings with Finnish and EU colleagues.

Isamaa and its forerunners have been instrumental in shaping Estonia's foreign policy since independence, the piece notes, and, despite being the smallest of the three coalition partners, is providing continuity at the defense ministry too, whose chief, Jüri Luik, reluctantly took on the role when the coalition entered office in April 2019 in order to protect gains which had been made up to now.

Tiido himself has also been at the forefront of Estonia's foreign policy direction, the article adds.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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