Leader of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and finance minister Martin Helme has suggested Rein Veidemann, chair of the supervisory board at public broadcaster ERR, step down, following the resignation of EKRE's representative on the board.
Helme said he disagreed with Veidemann's assessment that EKRE MP Urmas Reitelmann was unfit to sit on the supervisory board. Reitelmann announced his resignation from the post Monday following a backlash over social media comments he posted about ETV presenters late last week.
"Really it's the other way round. Really it's the case that Reitelmann has been someone who has, since joining the board, demanded that it fully complies in with paragraphs 4,5, 6 and 31 of the Public Broadcasting Act, which require that ERR be balanced, impartial, solid, family-oriented and nationally-oriented," Helme wrote on his own social media page Monday.
"I made the same demands in the previous four years (Helme was Reitelmann's predecessor as EKRE's representative on the ERR supervisory board – ed.). To no avail – [adherence to] these paragraphs from the broadcasting act simply cannot be seen," he went on.
"Reitelmann resigned from the supervisory board. I invite you, Rein, to similarly leave. Clearly you have not been able to comply with the broadcasting act's requirements, and neither has the board. I have come to realize that, unfortunately, it is no longer feasible to expect this of you. Things cannot continue in that way. "
Reitelmann had posted on his social media page Thursday night comments on two presenters of current affairs show "Ringvaade", referring to them as "sodomites". He also attacked other journalists over balance issues.
This prompted Veidemann to appeal to approach Martin Helme requesting Reitelmann's withdrawal from the board as EKRE representative.
The Riigikogu's cultural committee deputy chief Heidy Purga (Reform) called for same, adding that Reform would initiate procedures to recall Reitelmann.
ERR's supervisory board is made up of one MP from each elected Riigikogu party – currently five – along with three independent experts, including Veidemann. The parties themselves nominate their representatives.
Reitelmann, whose replacement has not yet been named, initially rejected calls to step down, only to do so on Monday.
His post had come just hours after a government rift was seemingly healed on the issue of a referendum on same-sex marriage – which has now been moved forward to spring – and comments interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) had made about gay people in the international media the previous week.
Editor: Andrew Whyte