Culture minister recalls EKRE MP from Integration Foundation board

Culture Minister Piret Hartman (SDE).
Culture Minister Piret Hartman (SDE). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Minister of Culture Piret Hartman (SDE) recalled MP Ruuben Kaalep (EKRE) from the Integration Foundation (Integratsiooni Sihtasutus) Board on Wednesday, citing protocol. The appointment had raised concerns with the Jewish community.

Hartman said the withdrawal was made because Riigikogu members cannot act as members on councils established by the state.

The minister asked the party to appoint a new member who is not an MP.

Hartman wrote on social media on Tuesday afternoon that there is an unwritten agreement that all parliament parties are represented on the foundation's council and that each party appoints its own member.

She also highlighted the importance of the role: "It is important that different worldviews and political parties representing different social groups are involved in the process of integration policy and building a cohesive society, even if the minister of culture does not agree with them. I will continue to follow this principle in the future."

The inaugural sitting of the XIV Riigikogu began Thursday morning at 11:00 EEST. 4 April 2019. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

She continued: "In order to build a cohesive society, I believe it is necessary for politicians to avoid insulting, persecuting and inciting hatred when expressing their views. This is not appropriate in a democracy. Political parties could keep this in mind when electing their representatives."

Kaalep's appointment drew concern from the Jewish Community of Estonia. It said the politician had expressed anti-Semitic and nationalist views which "sends out the wrong signal to our society".

The foundation is a competence center under the guidance of the Ministry of Culture which supports the development of "an integrated and cohesive society" in Estonia. It has 13 members who each serve three-year terms.

Kaalep, who ran in second position on the EKRE list in the 2019 Riigikogu elections in Tartu, has said he will not participate in the March election.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright

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