President tells government to 'pull yourselves together'

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Kersti Kaljulaid. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid told the government to "pull yourselves together" and said those who choose not to should find other positions in response to comments made by members of EKRE speculating that Lithuania's and Romania's recent elections were fraudulent. Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said no radio show could change the relationship between Estonia and Lithuania.

In a message posted on Facebook on Monday, Kaljulaid said she would never be silent when Estonia's security is brought into question and called the situation "embarrassing".

"The word is free in Estonia. Nevertheless, further insults by the minister of finance towards our closest allies and partners show that the role and responsibility of the government is still not clear to all government members. The mere fact that the Lithuanian foreign minister [Gabrielius Lansbergis] considers it necessary to comment on the barking of our minister is telling and embarrassing," she wrote.

"This is in no way negated by the foreign minister's [Urmas Reinsalu] statement that he communicates with his colleague every other day and that our cooperation in combating the virus crisis is good. What's next? We will likely soon hear how the "deep state scheme" in the Lithuanian elections is actually a recognition of Lithuania's strong democracy. Likely the flat earth theory is also actually a confirmation of the beautiful curvature of our home planet.

"I have promised that I will never remain silent where our security is concerned. Relations with allies are without a doubt a security issue for our country. But it is also a matter of basic dignity and courtesy.

"Dear Government of the Republic of Estonia - for two years now, the people of Estonia have had to look at how you deal with yourself and the crises created by you. Please finally face the people, listen and understand the Estonian people. We are in the worst crisis of all time, pull yourselves together. And those who are unable or unwilling to do so, then there are definitely other challenges out there for hard-working people. There are many jobs where one can talk completely freely so that the rest of the world does not understand it as the views of the Estonian state."

Sõna on Eestis vaba. Siiski näitavad rahandusministri järjekordsed solvangud meie lähimate liitlaste ja partnerite...

Posted by Kersti Kaljulaid on Monday, 4 January 2021

Ratas: No radio show can change good relations between Estonia, Lithuania

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas. Source: Vladislava Snurnikova/ERR

No radio program can change good relations between Estonia and Lithuania, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said on Monday afternoon in response to EKRE's comments.

Writing on social media Ratas said he had spoken with Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė on Monday morning and said the two have "excellent bilateral communications" adding the countries work together in areas such as the European Union, NATO, Rail Baltic and tourism and the COVID-19 crisis.

"We've demonstrated strength with regard to all these topics in our three states, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The strategic relations between the Baltic states are strong and excellent, and will remain so tomorrow as well as the day after. This is something I can always reaffirm with great pleasure and pride," he said.

No Sunday radio program can change that, the prime minister noted.

"It makes me wonder, however, what it is EKRE leaders are trying to achieve. It seems that this radio show has raised some controversy also within EKRE but that is their party's concern. Are they trying to renege on our three parties' joint coalition agreement? It contains many right and good principles we've always held in high regard in our work," Ratas said. 

"The other possibility is that EKRE wants to reopen the coalition agreement. Frankly, neither of these approaches is smart or sustainable," Ratas said.

The premier recommended the party refrain from making such statements.

"In my opinion, having a globe on the table would also be appropriate," he said.

"On a side note - EKRE has been in coalition with our centrist-liberal party for over 20 months now, and I personally am an adamant supporter of the European Union. A strong Estonia in a strong Europe! Dear friends, let's take it easy and have a nice 2021," he concluded. 

Postimees reported on Monday (link in English), that the head of EKRE in Tallinn's Kristiine district Georg Kirsberg wrote on the Facebook page of the EKRE Sõprade Klubi (Friends of EKRE club) that all the "nonsense on election fraud has gone too far."

Kirsberg wrote that such claims should not be made on a massive scale without direct evidence. "I would ask for an end to it lest we are labeled flat-earthers and lumped in with the reptiloids – the party's rating is ailing as it is!"

Minister of Defense: "Helmes' talk of deep state absurd"

Minister of Defense Jüri Luik. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Minister of Defense Jüri Luik (Isamaa) on Monday criticized the Helmes for making derogatory comments about Lithuania, calling their talk of "deep state" absurd.

"Statements by the Helmes demonstrate their dangerous disregard for the international relations of the Estonian state. Before their next show, the Helmes need to become aware that there are no states in the world insulting which is permitted for scoring points for domestic political purposes," Luik said.

"Derogatory remarks targeted at our allies directly damage our defense cooperation, because these things will be remembered, even if it is not said out loud. In this case, Lithuania has reacted publicly. In particular, such statements are not permitted for a minister of the Republic of Estonia," the defense minister noted. 

Both Lithuania and Romania as close friends of Estonia play an important role in our security, according to Luik.

"This is how it is and it's how it will remain, and no nonsense on a radio program can change that. It's depressing that we'll need to start our next meeting with our allies with apologies," he added.

"All this absurd talk about the deep state is a sign of weakness -- it is professed by politicians whose other arguments have dwindled. We might as well try and explain daily events with witchcraft and black magic," the defense minister said.

EKRE: Lithuanian elections deep state scheme

Martin Helme and Mart Helme. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Leading figures of the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) Mart and Martin Helme criticized the credibility of the Lithuanian parliamentary elections in October on the "Raagime asjast" broadcast on Tre radio on Sunday.

The Helmes reached the issue of Lithuania when discussing the criticism of the marriage referendum and they rejected accusations that such referendums should not be dealt with during the coronavirus crisis.

"[Kaja] Kallas talks like it will paralyze the state. It won't - you threaten to paralyze the state with your obstructionism and thousands of amendment proposals. Evil is actually the one who says they are good. What, exactly, is the fight about? Let's repeat - the fight is about the people having a greater say in politics through referendums, opinion polls and plebiscites," Mart Helme, former minister of the interior, said, mentioning Lithuania when speaking about "creatures manipulated by the deep state".

"Let's look at what happened in the last elections in Lithuania - it was such an obviously transparent deep state scheme that was launched there and that they managed to push through there," he said.

Minister of Finance Martin Helme said: "The same was attempted in Romania. The pattern is exactly the same."

In November, Mart Helme resigned as interior minister after calling Joe Biden a dirt bag and, together with Martin Helme, said the U.S. elections had been rigged.

On Sunday, too, Helmes returned to the issue of U.S. elections. In particular, they were concerned about what the perspective of what they thought to be a communist administration could mean for the role of the United States in geopolitics. "The facts are such that more than half of American voters say yes, the election were rigged," Martin Helme said.

Postimees was unable to contact the current and former chairman of EKRE by telephone.

Lansbergis: "Your belief in our democracy will help us believe in your common sense"

On Sunday evening, Lithuania's new Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Lansbergis (Homeland Union) replied to the Helmes' comments.

The minister posted a screenshot of ERR News' article along with a comment on social media which said: "Dear Martin, dear Mart. Lithuania, as well as Estonia, restored independence through the democratic will of our people. Trust in democracy and common sense helped us build our countries stronger and closer. Your belief in our democracy will help us believe in your common sense."

Editor's note: This article was updated to add comments from Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and EKRE member Georg Kirsberg. Then again to add comments from Minister of Defense Jüri Luik.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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