Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) deputy chair and MEP Jaak Madison told ERR on Thursday that MP and former longtime EKRE chairman Mart Helme's recent statement, that EKRE is neither pro-Ukraine nor pro-Russia, does not represent the party's general position. Party chair Martin Helme agrees.
"First of all, it should be mentioned that Helme was interviewed by the Russian-language ERR, and as my Russian language skills aren't the best, then I can't say what exactly he meant, but if that translation is correct, that EKRE is neither pro-Russia nor pro-Ukraine, but pro-peace, well, who wouldn't be pro-peace?" Madison said when interviewed by Madis Hindre for ERR's radio news.
"The question is how to achieve and maintain peace in the decades to come," he continued. "Both in Ukraine as well as in Estonia. The vast majority of EKRE is of the position that we are pro-peace, but also pro-Ukraine, as peace can only be achieved if Ukraine manages to defend its independence and manages to defend itself against the aggressor, which is currently unequivocally Russia."
The party's deputy chair confirmed that EKRE is clearly pro-Ukraine. "But we're also pro-peace, that the war ends as quickly as possible, and that the war must end with Ukrainian victory," he explained. "That is the party's clear position. Ukraine must be supported, but taking our opportunities into consideration."
He stressed that every statement should be commented on by the person who made it. "I believe that Mart Helme sincerely wants peace, but what he meant [when he said that] EKRE is neither pro-Ukraine nor pro-Russia, he'll have to explain for himself," he said.
Madison said that the Ukraine debate isn't a very lively one within the party. "Whether there will be a truce and armistice, but the war cannot end with Ukraine ceding territory, as that could mean war breaking out on the territory of some other country neighboring Russia in a couple of years," he added.
He declined to speculate whether Helme is suited to serve as deputy chair of the party. "That's not on topic," Madison said.
Martin Helme: EKRE isn't pro-Russian
EKRE chairman Martin Helme, Mart Helme's son, called his father's statement an unfortunate sentence.
"It was unfortunate in terms of the perspective as though we don't support Ukraine, but the key message that Mart wanted to say was that we should concentrate on striving for peace," Helme said.
"Mart is one of the best geostrategic analysts in Estonia and sees that big picture; occasionally he forgets that he needs to maintain message discipline during elections," he added.
"I'm angry at everyone who believes that you can conclude based on this one sentence that EKRE is pro-Russian or anti-Ukraine," Martin Helme said. "No! We're not neutral in the context of this war."
In an appearance on the Russian-language edition of "Otse uudistemajast" on Wednesday, Mart Helme said that support for EKRE could be influenced by its neutral position regarding the war in Ukraine.
"We find that the best solution would be a peace treaty, no matter how hard it would be for both sides — this way at least people would no longer die," Helme said. "We aren't pro-Russia or pro-Ukraine; we are pro-peace."
Reinsalu: You can't be neutral about genocide
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa), meanwhile, compared Mart Helme's positions to the behavior of certain countries during UN votes condemning Russia's actions in Ukraine, in which three fourths of member states vote in favor, clearly demonstrating that they are pro-Ukraine.
"Those countries who avoid and don't take part in the vote; they're waiting outside," Reinsalu said. "I don't know — the Central African Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, China. They say that they're pro-peace and that they're neutral. That they're neither pro-Ukraine nor pro-Russia."
He highlighted that previously neutral countries such as Switzerland, Austria and Ireland aren't neutral when it comes to Ukraine, as they share common values.
"You cannot be neutral regarding genocide and the extermination of a people and say that the end result will be the end of a war," the foreign minister said. "When we meet with national leaders from the most remote regions of the world, then we explain to them that [neutrality regarding the war in Ukraine] is a morally flawed position that is detrimental to their own national interests as well as to the interests of all of humanity. And it's all the more surprising to hear such a line of thought — regardless of how it's justified or mitigated after the fact — here in our own homeland , where we're a neighboring country to the aggressor state."
Editor: Aili Vahtla