Rüütel: EKRE, Isamaa in one government would protect Estonian interests

Former President Arnold Rüütel.
Former President Arnold Rüütel. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Honorary Chairman of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and former President Arnold Rüütel finds it appropriate that EKRE and Isamaa have decided to join together for the possible formation of a government and believes that the Centre Party, which holds fairly different views, is prepared to compromise.

"Isamaa and EKRE together form a strong, patriotic world of ideas," Mr Rüütel told ERR. "This is an achievement in its own right in Estonian politics. The Centre Party's positions have differed from this, there's no doubt about that — and since independence was restored already. But I believe that Centre Party chairman Jüri Ratas is prepared to compromise. All in all, I believe that in such a government [Centre, EKRE and Isamaa], Estonia's ethnonational interests would be defended."

The honorary chairman noted that EKRE chairman Mart Helme is an experienced politician who will surely very resolutely defend his party and its voters at negotiations.

He added that Estonia and its new government will face very many challenges, but among the most important are the birth rate, national capital and mineral resources.

"For 10-15 years we have lived in a country in which capital decides everything," Mr Rüütel said. "It has frequently been foreign capital that decides. We have to promote national capital. We also have to protect our mineral resources from being abused."

He also expressed grave concern over the low birth rate, especially during a time when migrant labour is entering Estonia uncontrolled from the east.

"If we are bringing in 10,000 labourers per year from Ukraine, Belarus or Russia, then I don't agree with this," Mr Rüütel said. "The Estonian state should not build its life up on such foundations."

He added that he believed that the lack of sufficient labour in Estonia should be addressed by bringing home Estonians who live and work abroad instead.

Citizenship should not be given to all

At the same time, the former president found that the possibility of relaxing the conditions for Estonian citizenship should be viewed critically. He cited as an example retired Russian soldiers who remained living in Estonia despite the fact that he had reached a deal with former Russian President Boris Yeltsin according to which the latter would help find funding for the construction of houses in the vicinity of St. Petersburg and Moscow by Estonian builders for the ex-troops.

As this plan did not come to fruition, a great number of people ended up remaining in Estonia to whom Mr Rüütel believes Estonian citizenship should not be granted.

Arnold Rüütel is EKRE's honorary chairman. He served one five-year term as the president of Estonia from 2001-2006.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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