Finance minister: The question is whether EKRE trusts the prime minister

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Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE).
Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE). Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

EKRE leader and Minister of Finance Martin Helme said Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and his coalition Center Party reacted to recent statements hostile to sexual minorities made by interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) in a way that will raise a question of trust within the government coalition.

Helme told journalists on Monday that coalition partner Center Party and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas have decided to attack EKRE from behind.

The finance minister confirmed that EKRE will not call Mart Helme back from his position as interior minister and if it were to happen, the coalition government will come to an end. He said EKRE wishes for the coalition to continue and wants to solve the problem.

Martin Helme noted that it is unacceptable for EKRE that one of their main values - to stand for traditional families - is being questioned.

Helme said: "It is out of the question that liberals will tell us how and to whom we can speak. If there is a person in Estonia who thinks EKRE does not stand for traditional values, they are a denier."

He added that homosexual people in Estonia have the same rights as everyone else.

Interior minister Mart Helme told German international public broadcaster Deutsche Welle's (DW) Russian-language service last week that he looked at LGBT+ people in an "unfriendly manner" and suggested they relocate to Sweden, where he said the atmosphere may be more amenable to them. Helme, whose comments attracted widespread condemnation including from prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center Party), has since said his words had been misrepresented.

Helme's statement has also received responses from many politicians, in both the coalition and opposition. President Kersti Kaljulaid also commented, saying the statement is "unacceptable, contrary to the spirit of our Constitution and also humanly simply revolting".

A pro-LGBT+ protest also took place on Sunday, gathering around 300 people to Tallinn's Vabaduse Väljak. A similar demonstration in Tartu at the beginning of the month saw about 150 protesters supporting the same changes.


Ratas: Mart Helme's statement is a problem to me

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said the interior minister's interview is a problem and discussions of restoring peace in the coalition now stand ahead.

Ratas did not yet agree to comment on whether or not Mart Helme should be called back from his interior minister position. He did say that the question must be discussed with coalition partners.

Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Center) added that there are no compromises when it comes to interpreting the Constitution. "The coalition is certainly in a crisis, but I can not say if it is the most serious one," the minister said.

Editor's note: The article was updated to add comments from Ratas and Reps.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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