Isamaa chair: Narva tank cannot be used as bargaining chip
The removal of the Soviet tank in Narva cannot be used as a bargaining chip for making investments in the city, and should the Social Democrats (SDE) issue a proposal that looks like a bargaining chip, then Isamaa won't support it, Isamaa chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder said on Tuesday.
"Of course the tank should be removed, there's no question, and the faster, the better," Seeder said. "Naturally this should be done civil manner, but it definitely needs to be done and the tank removed. But the tank can't be some kind of bargaining chip."
According to the party chairman, Narva must be and has been developed as an Estonian city, with or without the tank.
"It's absolutely immoral to turn it into a tradeoff," he said. "Otherwise Tallinn residents could also start asking afterward if we'll build Tallinn Hospital in compensation for the [Bronze Soldier] too."
The chairman of the junior coalition party is also concerned that providing Narva with a support package in exchange for the removal of the Soviet-era tank monument located there would set a bad precedent for other parts of the country where symbols of occupying powers are being removed as well.
"That if they start being removed, then the state should provide some kind of national investment in return," he explained. "Estonia's freedom isn't that devalued.
It isn't right to provide various local governments with favors or tradeoffs for the removal of ideological monuments from the occupation, Seeder stressed.
"And that would of course establish a precedent," he continued. "It would set off a chain reaction, because around there are several more such monuments located in other local governments where the Russian-speaking population is in the overwhelming majority. Then we'll start setting a price on these symbols of occupying powers, so to speak. And hagglong over how much this or that monument should cost, and whether this or that local government will end up getting more or less of a bribe."
This is a ridiculous route and absolutely the wrong way to go about it, Seeder said.
"That doesn't mean that these local governments shouldn't be helped and shouldn't be developed," he explained. "That is a matter of general policy, a matter of regional policy. That's a matter of security policy as well. But to tie these two things together as market goods as such — that we are strongly opposed to."
He acknowledged that of course it should be explained to people, including in Narva, for example, why something should be taken down, but that this should be done without offering anything in return.
"Of course awareness should be raised," he said. "This should be done as peacefully as humanly possible."
"A very strange situation has arisen in which a local government, or in this case let's say the local government leader, is opposing the state, is opposing Estonia's freedom, is opposing Estonia's independence and is pushing this issue off onto the state," Seeder said. "This should actually be done together. Local government as well as the state, but not us here and the state there, and if the state takes it down, then the state had better provide some sort of compensation, specifically for this tank."
According to Seeder, should Minister of the Interior and SDE chair Lauri Läänemets come before the government at once about the removal of the Narva tank and with a proposal to provide some sort of support package as though in exchange for the Narva tank, Isamaa wouldn't support it.
"Isamaa will certainly be considering these things separately — separately and independently," he said. "The removal of the tank as well as the removal of other ideological monuments of occupying powers throughout Estonia is one matter and all kinds of investments, aid packages, support for local governments is another matter."
Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!
Editor: Aili Vahtla