New interior minister: I'm no Mart Helme ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Interior minister Alar Laneman on ETV's
Interior minister Alar Laneman on ETV's "Esimene stuudio" Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Following his fresh appointment as Minister of the Interior on Wednesday, Alar Laneman (EKRE) said that while he is still trying to understand what the 'deep state' might be, it likely has many faces. At the same time, Laneman said he would be no Mart Helme – his predecessor and one who often railed against the existence of a deep state – in either word or deed.

One of the primary messages from the last interior Mart Helme (EKRE) was that Estonia's strings are being pulled by a so-called deep state. Incoming interior minister Alar Laneman did not give ETV political interview show "Esimene stuudio" a clear answer on whether or not he will fight against this putative deep state, however. He said he will first try to understand what the exact definition of the deep state is.

"What do we mean when we say this? Since society undeniably has interest groups, at worst, whose goals are criminal; at best, they might assist friends or are just of the same essence, there has also been talk of corporations and so on. This is not bad in and of itself, but it all depends on what they are doing and their role in society. It is a somewhat slippery slope. If we want to find a tailor, we go to a good one, not to one who is working because they are our friend or acquintance. The same with a doctor. We should be careful with these things," Laneman said.

He continued: "But the deep state likely has many faces. The secret service is mostly taken into view, the interior minister is a likely place as well. But what they are doing in society and to other people is important, if they are communicating with each other but everything does not work out. I think we are talking about inherent secrecy. So I will see and research and maybe get smarter."

Laneman: I have a hard act to follow

Laneman acknowledged that he has some pretty big shoes to fill as new interior minister: "Mart Helme clearly laid down the foundations. Work has begun and I have been in the ministry [building] for three or four hours, and as much as I was able to ascertain, the shoes I have to fill there are rather big one, so I might even have to stuff them with bits of paper."

The long-time Estonian Defense Forces officer noted that his previous positions have just been workaday ones: "One should not get too excited and overthink things, and think too much of themselves. Those were just jobs."

Laneman also noted that he is bothered by the constant judgment and condemnation in society.

Mart Helme, along with his some of his fiery and controversial statements, often gave rise to many situations which led to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) having to apologize on behalf of the entire government. Laneman said he will try to save himself and others from his words.

Laneman: Speak loudly but carry a small stick

"I think, since we are dealing with people, there are two things that need to be put together. What you want to say and show and how it will affect people. During my service, I learned that the higher your seat, the greater effect your words carry. A softer tone of voice and phraseology can actually hit the mark quite painfully ... but you need to raise your voice at times. So I am trying to hold myself and others and colleagues to this," he said.

With that in mind, Laneman did not rush to judge Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Center) for allegedly misusing her official car to transport her six children, a story which came to light in the preceding 24 hours.

Laneman: Who am I to judge Mailis Reps?

"I always consider whether I have the right to judge. Mailis Reps must be first to give her assessment and then we can consider what her political group and coalition partners say. But I would like for this to settle a bit. We have a very good person here, filling two roles - mother and a fine minister. Something has perhaps gone wrong, but let us slow down with allegations, see what there was and how she understands it. I think they will make the right decisions, but who am I to judge to Mailis Reps?" the interior minister commented.

Mart Helme stepped down recently after a media storm surrounding comments he made about the U.S. presidential elections and president-elect Joe Biden.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste, Andrew Whyte

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