Ratas: No one has the right to instigate violence in society

Jüri Ratas.
Jüri Ratas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Replying to MPs' questions on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said no one has the right to instigate violence in the society and that Interior Minister Mart Helme has said out things which give a "clearly different perception".

"No one has the right to instigate violence in society," Ratas (Center) said in Riigikogu question time. The prime minister also stressed that the Constitution applies to everyone.

"The Constitution is paramount, and one must base their actions on it," he said.

"It is a very big problem when someone is discriminated against or violence is being instigated,"  Ratas, chairman of the Center Party, said. 

Answering the question whether in his opinion Interior Minister Mart Helme (EKRE) has instigated hatred or violence, Ratas said that it is a problem for him.

"In the context of the interview, he said out words which very clearly gave a different perception," Ratas said. "The interior minister has said to me what he has said also publicly: that he has been misunderstood."

"If words held no weight, the crisis in the government coalition would not have broken out," Ratas said. "Words definitely hold weight."

"Whatever rhetoric that splits, whatever rhetoric discriminating against minorities must be taken down in society," Ratas said. "Estonia must be a society where everyone feels safe."

Ratas added that when it comes to the competence of Mart Helme as minister in his area of administration, he has no criticism for Helme. 

Helme said EKRE is willing to go all the way in the government crisis, even if the price is moving to the opposition, Mart Helme told Postimees in an interview on Tuesday afternoon.

Minister of Defense: Helme's utterances on minorities clearly incompatible with Constitution

Minister of Defense Jüri Luik (Isamaa). Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Mart Heme's utterances on minorities are radically incompatible with the Constitution, according to Minister of Defense Juri Luik (Isamaa).

"It is absolutely clear that I would not have given such an interview, and I cannot subscribe to any of the positions expressed therein," Luik said on Wednesday answering questions by members of the Riigikogu. 

Luik noted that in his opinion, the part regarding minorities in Helme's interview was the position that was most radically incompatible with the Estonian Constitution.

"We must take into consideration that all such utterances get noticed," Luik said, adding that such statements have a direct impact on ensuring Estonia' security.

The minister added that Helme's interview did not gain any ground internationally, likely due to the media not amplifying it.

Luik noted that Helme's utterances contained much of EKRE's politics.

"Everything he said about the role of Russia and [Vladimir] Putin has been EKRE's unambiguous politics for a long time," he said.

The defense minister said that the sanctions imposed on Russia are working well. He underscored that Estonia has supported the sanctions and the tightening thereof in all forums and that it is also the government's policy.

Luik said that none of the utterances by the minister of the interior, albeit having been completely inappropriate, will break Estonia's cooperation with its allies.

"This interview will not change Estonia's overall international position," Luik said, adding that Helme's words both in this interview and previous ones have a negative impact on Estonia's reputation.

Luik called the interior minister's utterances regrettable and completely inappropriate. 

Postimees reported on Friday that Helme said in an interview with Deutsche Welle's Russian portal that he doubted about whether the sactions placed on Russia for the annexation of Crimea were effective. Helme said he thought diplomatic talks would be more useful.

He also said gay people in Estonia should go to Sweden, although he claims he was misinterpreted.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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