Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets, who visited the city of Narva, said once again that the Russian tank erected as a Second World War monument needs to be removed from its current location. He promised to be considerate of the feelings of Narva residents who use it as a site of commemoration.
Läänemets met with Narva Mayor Katri Raik (both SDE), and the two also discussed symbols of war. "My position and that of the government is that the tank in Narva needs to be found a better location where it can be preserved with dignity. The process of moving it also needs to be dignified, considering its significance as a symbol for the people of Narva," Läänemets said at a press conference following the meeting.
Raik has previously voiced opposition to the plan to remove the Tank T-34 monument. She has suggested most Narva residents would be against it and that she does not want to see society split.
"A tank is a symbol of aggression. For us, it is a symbol of an aggressive country and an assault weapon. A tank does not make a good monument. It is a national rather than local matter. War insignia should be addressed by the government of the republic," the interior minister said. "Where to put the tank should be decided by specialists and is the work of a corresponding committee. It is not the job of politicians," he added.
However, state presence should not manifest only in symbols and monuments for the people of Narva but also efforts to ensure everyday quality of life, Läänemets suggested. "The coping of Narva residents matters to Estonia. We will propose to our partners in the government that Narva needs a new hospital, rental apartments for specialists, such as teachers, and lower heating prices," the minister pledged.
No date has been set for the tank's removal. "We will need solid legal basis, which work is underway. We're still analyzing the situation – the search for the most dignified solution is ongoing, as while a tank is an assault weapon and a strong symbol of aggression, it has been a site of remembering lost loved ones for many," Läänemets said.
"These things cannot be rushed. It is not something than can be done in secret under the cover of night," Läänemets emphasized.
He added that the tank makes for an important matter also for the Narva city council. "I have not yet heard where the Center Party stands in this matter, even though they have a considerable presence in the Narva city council. We want to know Center's position," Läänemets also said.
The minister visited the Narva Border Guard Cordon for which he promised investments and highlighted the importance of hiking Police and Border Guard Board salaries to ensure enough officers.
Editor: Marcus Turovski