Second Vice-President of the Riigikogu Martin Helme (EKRE) has refused to give his consent for Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Marko Mihkelson (Reform) to represent Estonia on international missions. As such decisions require a consensus from all three members of the Board of the Riigikogu, Helme's opposition is sufficient to block Mihkelson from representing Estonia abroad.
"This week I drew the line under a mission that I cannot agree with. Marko Mihkelson wanted to go on an overseas mission. Initially using the Foreign Affairs Committee's money, then, when I blocked it, with his own allowance. I do not consent (to it). I do not consent to Mihkelson going anywhere, on a mission from the Riigikogu, to represent the Estonian state and the Riigikogu," Helme wrote on social media.
In the same post, Helme added, that usually when the Board of the Riigikogu is asked to approve MPs' foreign missions, it is usually a formality with disputes rarely arising. "MPs travel on expenses either to conferences or political events, or committees make official visits to other (countries') parliaments. As a rule, there are usually no disputes, we simply make sure the necessary documents are in order and that everything works within the budget," explained Helme.
Helme said, that Mihkelson can still travel abroad at his own expense, before adding: "I hope that, as soon as possible, the Estonian taxpayer will no longer have to pay him a salary."
"But (in his capacity) as a member of the Riigikogu, as the chair of a committee, a person with his reputation cannot go anywhere. I hope that both he and his colleagues in his political group will understand that he is simply not suitable to be the official face of the Estonian state in foreign relations. Every day, he is simply destroying our international reputation!" continued Helme.
The three-person Board of the Riigikogu comprises Helme (Second Vice-President), along with President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas (Center) and First Vice-President Helir-Valdor Seeder (Isamaa).
Ratas told ERR on Friday, that as Seeder is currently in Ukraine and no session of the board had been scheduled for this week, the board members reached the decision after communicating online.
Ratas explained, that as all board decisions require a consensus, Helme's opposition was enough to block Mihkelson's planned international trips. Asked his own position on the Mihkelson situation, Ratas implied that he did not agree with Helme's view, saying that Mihkelson's role as Chair of the Riigikogu's Foreign Affairs Committee is foreign relations, and that it includes international visits.
Isamaa Chair Seeder told ERR on Friday, that he thought Mihkelson should step down as chair of the Riigikogu's Foreign Affairs Committee, a view seconded by Helme.
Editor: Michael Cole