EKRE re-nominates Kaalep as Integration Foundation board representative

Ruuben Kaalep at the Riigikogu.
Ruuben Kaalep at the Riigikogu. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

EKRE has decided to re-nominate Ruuben Kaalep as its representative on the board of the Integration Foundation (Integratsiooni Sihtasutus). Kaalep, who did not run in the recent Riigikogu elections, was previously recalled from the role by former culture minister Piret Hartman (SDE) due to protocol.

On January 5, the then Minister of Culture Piret Hartman (SDE) recalled civil servant Heidi Uustalu, along with society figure Andrus Tamme, from the Integration Foundation's board. Social and healthcare expert Georg Männik and Tartu city councilor Henri Kaselo (SDE), along with Kaalep, were appointed as their replacements, on three-year terms. 

Kaalep's appointment to the board attracted controversy at the time, with the Jewish Community of Estonia expressing its concerns to the culture minister, regarding the politicians' alleged anti-Semitic views.

Alla Jakobson, board chair of the Jewish Community of Estonia wrote, "We believe that appointing to the foundation's board an individual who has publicly expressed his nationalistic, including anti-Semitic, views does not meet the organizations stated aims, and sends out the wrong signal to our society."

The Ministry of Culture had justified the decision to appoint Kaalep on the grounds that all Riigikogu political parties need to be represented at the foundation.

A few days later, Hartman recalled Kaalep from the role, stating, that boards established by the state cannot include politicians, who have been elected to the Riigikogu.

The culture minister therefore asked EKRE to appoint a new representative, who was not a member of the Riigikogu.

However, EKRE did not do so, with Kaalep pointing out, that Hartman had already been aware of Kaalep's work as a member of the Riigikogu when appointing him to the foundation's board on January 5 this year

"The separation of powers did not become an issue until Alla Jakobson, a representative of the Jewish Community of Estonia, wrote to the minister demanding my removal from the board," Kaalep wrote on social media.

Ruuben Kaalep did not run in this year's Riigikogu elections, thus the formal obstacle Hartman referred to when recalling him from the board no longer applies.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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