Opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) leader Martin Helme has strongly criticized commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Lt Gen. Martin Herem, calling him an extension of the Reform Party and not fit for the position.
"We need a different defense doctrine than Herem offers," Helme said, appearing on ERR webcast "Otse uudistemajast" Wednesday.
More generally, Helme pledged to cancel the appointments of top state officials made by the current Reform/Isamaa/SDE administration before the Riigikogu elections in March, in the case of positions where the term of office ends only after the elections
Helme said: "All the appointments that the current government makes to positions whose term of office expires after the elections are invalid."
"These will be changed - the chief of the EDF, Martin Herem, the Director General of the Internal Security Service (ISS), the head of the PPA," he went on, saying that EKRE if it were to enter office after the general election would remove these top officials from their posts – again, in the case of those appointed by the current administration, ahead of the election, if the term of that appointment went beyond the election, which since most state official top-level terms are for five years, they would do.
Helme said that EKRE would attempt to come out the most voted-for party at the March general election, adding that while he would not rule in or out any potential coalition lineup, a "liberal front" consisting of Reform, the Social Democrats (SDE) and the non-parliamentary Eesti 200 parties would not be likely potential partners.
"It is no secret that our preference is to talk with those with whom we have already had experience of cooperation," Helme went on, referring to Center and Isamaa, which it was in office with April 2019-January 2021.
While EKRE's rating has been rising according to most party surveys, the Center Party's has been moving in the opposite direction, though Helme said that Center was in no danger of not being represented at the Riigikogu, and would continue to be so long after the Reform/Isamaa/SDE lineup, which entered office in July, had ceased to exist.
The senior coalition party, Reform, is, Helme said: "Like a black widow spider, which eats up support from both its coalition partners, SDE and Isamaa."
At the same time, Center has lost support, particularly among Russina-speakers, a traditional bedrock but one which is more and more tending to vote based on its supposed worldview, and harmed by the liberal wing of the party – Helme named former education minister Mailis Reps, former health minister Tanel Kiik, and the party's leader and Riigikogu Speaker Jüri Ratas as examples of these – which in any case is seeing competition from Reform, Eesti 200, SDE and the newly-formed Parempoolsed, Helme said.
The continuing high energy prices are likely to be pinned on Center, while the party was in office for six years and so not enjoying the advantages of being in opposition for as long a time as EKRE has, he went on.
"Tens of thousands" of people with dual Russian citizenship and the soaring energy prices, particularly with electricity, were issues that the current administration should be called to account for, he went on.
The general election is on March 5 2023.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Otse uuistemajast