Opinion digest: Reform couldn't form government with EKRE, says Kross

Eerik-Niiles Kross Source: Postimees/Scanpix

In an opinion piece published by daily Postimees, outgoing Reform MP Eerik-Niiles Kross explained that despite claims implying that every political party in Estonia would be able to reach an agreement with the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and include them in a coalition government, he doesn't believe his party could if they can't see eye to eye on Europe.

Referring to an opinion piece published by EKRE MP Jaak Madison in daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) earlier this month, Kross highlighted a number of quotes that he found were cause for concern, including claims that the greatest threat to Estonan nationhood was the federalisation of the EU, that Estonians were losing their hard-won sovereignty in the free Estonia of the 21st century, and that Estonia cannot have a shared path in the future with an EU that has degenerated into a threatening supremacy in Brussels.

He said that there have been many claims implying that all political parties in Estonia would be capable of reaching an agreement with EKRE and including them in a government coalition. If EKRE found that Estonia and EU should not share a joint path in the future, however, the Reform Party at least would not be capable of sharing a government with them.

"More and more it seems to me as though the greatest threat to our nationhood isn't any one external force, but rather our own stupidity," Kross commented.

The Reform MP recalled leading EKRE politicians' repeated calls for Estonia to organise a new referendum on EU membership since spring 2017, but noted that according to the results of the most recent poll, nearly 70% of Estonians consider the country's EU membership a positive thing, while just 6% consider it a bad thing. He also criticised Estonia's second-largest opposition party for attempting to draw comparisons between Soviet and EU policy, arguing that the the two unions could only be compared in order to highlight the stark contrasts between them.

In response to EKRE's claims that Estonia and other nation states in general are giving up their independence to the EU, Kross explained that member states have indeed relinquished some degree of decision-making to Brussels, however they have done so voluntarily, and as a result have benefited from the EU's regulations, common market and economic space, the last of which has granted businesses from Estonia and other member states alike equal opportunities. He stressed that the growth of the wealth of the Estonian economy was due in large part to the common market formed by the EU's current 28 member states.

The EU has its share of problems, and naturally not everything goes as Estonia or any other member state wants. "Europe's cultural map, however, is the safest, wealthiest and most opportunity-rich environment in which Estonians have lived in their 3,000-5,000-year history," he stressed.

Kross also noted that the EU not only doesn't hinder or restrict the keeping or protecting of the Estonian state, language and culture, but it in fact does support it — to the tune of billions of euros, and with a "great heart," to an extent unseen by any other international organisation, league of states or regional association. Naturally Brussels can still get on Estonia's nerves, "But to claim Estonia can somehow more successfully promote its nationhood outside of the EU somehow is as good as claiming that we can defend ourselves better without NATO."

The Reform politician believes, however, that EKRE's anti-European attitudes are rooted in the hope that they can continue fanning the flames of fears of refugees overrunning Estonia at the behest of Brussels, and admitted that the situation is dire indeed if a couple of hundred refugees over the course of a decade can decimate the country.

He acknowledged that the refugee crisis absolutely exists and has forced a number of European governments out of their comfort zones, noting that Estonia is not great at either crisis regulation or rapid response. Estonia should have no problem handling the refugees to be relocated to the country under the refugee quota program, however, considering the many times more other immigrants to arrive in the country each year. "Estonia's concern is to aide Europe in solving the refugee crisis and continued population crisis by means of policy development and a greater understanding that Europe's concern is Estonia's concern," Kross said, adding that this would no way threaten Estonian sovereignty.

According to Kross, EKRE's issue is not liberal democracy, as the party has claimed in the past, but rather the understanding that Estonian statehood and sovereignty belong to Estonians not in the political, but rather the ethnic sense. The European values of freedom and democracy, however, are based on the understanding that "nation state" is a political concept, and that all of a country's citizens have equal rights, regardless of class, ethnicity or any other such difference.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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