President convening defense council Monday to discuss US-Estonian relations

President Kersti Kaljulaid.
President Kersti Kaljulaid. Source: Three Seas Initiative

President Kersti Kaljulaid is to convene the National Defense Council (Riigikaitse nõukogu) Monday, with the aim of discussing Estonian-United States relations.

The meeting, which was sparked by remarks made by former interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) about the recent U.S. elections and president-elect Joe Biden, had to be postponed after President Kaljulaid came into contact, during an official visit to Viljandi County, with a person who later tested positive for COVID-19.

The president and several of her staff then had to quarantine the regulation 10 days, following the contact, though tested negative for the coronavirus herself.

In the intervening time – last Monday – Mart Helme resigned as interior minister. Had he still been in office he would have been required to attend the meeting.

Helme had appeared on a regular Tre Raadio talk show on Sunday, November 8, in which he called Biden and his son Hunter untrustworthy characters and said that civil war may be brewing over the disputed results of the November 3 election. Martin Helme, finance minister, also appeared on the show, saying that the election's results were fraudulent.

The National Defense Council as an advisory body for the president consists of the , Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center), foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa), defense minister Jür Luik (Isamaa), finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE), justice minister Raivo Aeg (Isamaa), economic affairs minister Taavi Aas (Center), foreign trade and IT minister Raul Siem (EKRE), Riigikogu president Henn Põlluaas (EKRE) and the chairs of the Riigikogu's national defense and foreign affairs committees (Andres Metsoja (Isamaa) and Marko Mihkelson (Reform)).

The interior minister would also normally attend the meeting; while the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) will nominate who the Helme's replacement will be, and has done so with MP Alar Laneman, the latter has not been approved or sworn-in by the president yet.

Mart Helme also recently questioned the integrity of Estonia's e-voting system – a question which will also be discussed at Monday's meeting, it is reported.

The council discusses issues key to Estonia's defense and is convened as and when needed. It was last convened just over a year ago, on November 8 2019, when energy security and climate neutrality were on the table.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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