Government to continue discussing political situation on Thursday

Martin Helme, Jüri Ratas, Helir-Valdor Seeder on Monday.
Martin Helme, Jüri Ratas, Helir-Valdor Seeder on Monday. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The government did not find a consensus during Wednesday's sitting and will continue discussing the situation regarding the holding of a marriage referendum, an EKRE initiative set to take place the day of local elections next year.

The government's communication bureau added in an announcement that the originally scheduled press conference on Thursday will be canceled.

The press release stated: "The leaders of the coalition parties will continue discussing the political situation on Thursday."

Isamaa chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder told ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" after Wednesday's sitting that discussions revolved around trust, cooperation and values. "But we did not discuss draft laws or referendum details," Seeder said.

He continued: "We agreed to meet again tomorrow (Thursday - ed.) and will try to find the cooperative spirit on how to proceed. The discussion today was constructive and I dare say that we can restore the trust between the three parties."

EKRE head and Minister of Finance Martin Helme said on Wednesday's "Esimene stuudio" that coalition partners looked over the edge and took a few steps back.

Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) said that if it is ever possible to conduct a referendum on marriage, it must be done in a civilized manner.

Thursday night's sitting

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) told ERR on Wednesday: "It all stems from an interview and we have reached a very complicated situation by now. I can not say this is a dead point. I do not have an answer for whether or not we can solve this but I can say that I am working on it."

Finance minister Martin Helme added that the marriage-themed referendum is a very important piece of the coalition agreement. "We think backing away from it means the coalition agreement has failed to be. I do not think there is a party today who would disagree with fulfilling the coalition agreement," the minister said.

Helir-Valdor Seeder assessed that the current coalition continuing is the most reasonable option. "We have jointly agreed to goals in the coalition agreement and if we do not see them through, then another coalition will not either," the Isamaa head said.

He added: "Then alternative options will continue, alternative goals, alternative coalitions. Whether that is an option or not, is it the best one for all parties involved? So we must consider everything going forward and then make a decision, perhaps going forward the way things are is most reasonable."

Reform Party chairwoman Kaja Kallas noted that it is difficult to see the sides reaching an agreement in such value-based questions.

Kallas said: "The hatred toward minorities will not disappear, some groups are just attacked. In addition, one party not following the Constitution will also not disappear. Reform has reached out a helping hand to make a different government without EKRE."

Social Democratic Party leader Indrek Saar noted that canceling the marriage referendum is the duty of Center and Isamaa as the other coalition parties.

Saar said: "I hope that all of what we have been hearing these last few days, how EKRE leaders have made their goals abundantly clear... That this gives the government's other sides a clear understanding of having to cancel this divisive referendum."

Interior minister Mart Helme's comments to Deutsche Welle

The government crisis started on Friday after comments made by the Minister of the Interior Mart Helme were published in an interview with Deutsche Welle's Russian service.

When asked by the Deutsche Welle journalist Konstantin Eggert if gay people have mounted an offensive and are about to flood Estonia, Helme said they would do well to run away to Sweden.

"They can run to Sweden. They'll have everything there, and they'll be looked upon more politely by everyone," Helme said.

"Do you look at them impolitely?" Eggert asked Helme.

"I indeed look at them in an unfriendly manner," the minister said.

"Nowadays, this is called homophobia," Eggert said.

"It's not homophobia. I'd argue that the people who claim that our referendum is unnecessary are heterophobes. They are barging into the beds of heterosexual people. It is them barging in on us, not the other way around. If they can disseminate their propaganda, we can counter it with different propaganda," Helme said.

Members of all political parties rushed to condemn Helme's comments over the weekend, saying they go against the principles of the constitution which does not allow for discrimination of people by gender, sexuality or race.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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