Deputy chairman of the opposition Conservative People's Party (EKRE) Mart Helme told ERR in an interview that he wants to create a Riigikogu support group for Estonia leaving the European Union. Helme described the initiative as a cry for help in a federalizing Europe that has succumbed to neo-Marxist ideology. Helme claims there are attempts to rewrite history and lay down censorship in the European Union, as well as attempts to turn the European Commission into the European government.
Was it an emotional outburst when you said that you are considering forming a support group for leaving the European Union? Or is it a new long-term goal for you?
It has been a long time coming. While I remain a supporter of the EU as an economic union of nation states, we can see that the EU has become an overideologized organism and one moving toward federalization. The main treaties, including Estonia's accession are being literally violated in the European Union.
For example, there will be common taxes. The European Commission that no one has voted into office is planning to take out a loan for the EU. Nothing of the sort that is provided in any document describing its powers. It is unacceptable.
What is more, the European Union is ripe with neo-Marxist ideology, such as cancel culture. It gives me the creeps when people say that Mozart and Beethoven are manifestations of white supremacy and need to be revised in that key. It is beginning to look like the Maoist culture revolution in China. It has been piling up. We need to send a clear signal to society that these developments cannot be normal or acceptable. The proposal constitutes ringing out the bell so to speak.
Does it also mean that it is EKRE's goal to take Estonia out of the European Union?
First, the goal is to spark a debate. To ask where the EU is headed and where Estonia is headed as part of it. We understand full well that we will be accused of working for the Kremlin and told that Estonia must choose between Europe and Russia, how the country can never find itself alone again etc.
But it is not a question of Europe or Russia. The question that matters is in what kind of a Europe can Estonia be content, happy and Estonians remain masters in their own land. We can see the power of decision being slowly taken away. Our current government is willing to gradually part with it. I am trying to urge people to follow common sense and spark a debate.
What is this about a European Union ideology? Can you explain the connection with Mozart and Beethoven?
It was recently reported that a research paper has even been published at Oxford. (AP fact check has overturned claims according to which European composers have been removed from the university's program as manifestations of white supremacy. The University of Oxford is planning to include other kinds of music in its curricula – ed.)
Okay. The United Kingdom is no longer a part of the EU, but there have been other signals. What connection do we have to white supremacist ideology? We will not be painting our faces black and apologizing for being born white.
There is ideological pressure. For example, the subject matter of hate speech. We spent Wednesday night in the Riigikogu listening to how we have to adopt European directives prescribing censorship. The Media Services Act basically obligates us to lay down censorship. As usual, our officials have managed to go above and beyond in their efforts to comply.
Can you explain your claim of censorship in more detail?
The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA) will put together a working group that will be tasked with making sure media companies do not publish hate speech, racial hatred and I don't know what else.
First of all, we have no precise definition of hate speech. The lines are muddled. It takes me back to the Soviet period where I spent almost half my life. Almost anything could be labeled anti-Soviet propaganda at the time. Suggesting that the potato harvest was poor this year meant that one was being critical of Soviet agriculture and constituted anti-Soviet agitation. American cars are better than Soviet ones – failure to recognize the advancement of the Soviet car industry, also anti-Soviet agitation. We are heading down the same rabbit hole today and I find it wholly unacceptable.
Should other EKRE MPs join the initiative, it will be the first time a political party officially wants to take Estonia out of the union. Demanding Estonia leave the EU is nothing short of a paradigm shift. While such calls have been made my marginal street parties in the past, it is now coming from a party that brings together a fifth of MPs.
I cannot speak for the party at this time. Such decisions need to be made by the board and council. They may also need to be approved by the party congress. I also need to check whether the program would have to be altered.
However, I want to emphasize once more than neither I nor the majority of EKRE members are against the EU as a union of nation states and as an economic union. We are against a federal Europe, against the Commission serving as the European government, against common taxes and attempts to lay down a universal political ideology.
What are your next steps? Will you be registering the support group in the Riigikogu?
Yes, some EKRE MPs have said they will join. I know for a fact that others will not join the group. We also have more pro-European members. I cannot say there is consensus in this matter.
Editor: Marcus Turovski