Ratas: Official must be able to publicly discuss state's problems

Matti Maasikas and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) at the European Parliament.
Matti Maasikas and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) at the European Parliament. Source: EU2017EE

Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) posted a message on social media on Wednesday criticizing Ministry of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for European Affairs Matti Maasikas, who had expressed concerns regarding the direction of Estonia's foreign policy. Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) in turn wrote another message on social media himself in defense of Estonia's officials.

In his post on Wednesday afternoon, Martin Helme, deputy chairman of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) defended a comparison drawn by his father, Minister of the Interior and EKRE chairman Mart Helme, between the EU and the Soviet Union, saying that there was nothing scandalous about such a comparison.

What was scandalous in his opinion, however, was how a civil servant, in this case Maasikas, "presents questions to ministers in a demanding, downright threatening tone and from a superior position. Who do you think you are? We are in the government precisely to put an end to such governance!"  

A few hours later, Ratas wrote on his own Facebook wall that Estonia's success and everyday functioning to a great extent depends on the good work and high degree of professionalism of its officials and staff.

"Our officials serve our people, which means that they do their jobs sincerely and employ their best skills and knowledge professionally for everyone's benefit," he wrote.

The prime minister highlighted that serving as an official demands honesty and respect toward the public. "Honesty very clearly also means that officials must have the opportunity to discuss national issues and possible problems respectfully, impartially and in a well-argued manner," he continued, adding that this included publicly and with politicians, if necessary.

"This is why I am thankful to all of our civil servants, who are committed to their jobs and do them honestly, and whose hearts ache over our country," Ratas concluded.

Helme compares EU to Soviet Union

Mart Helme on Tuesday congratulated Boris Johnson on being elected chairman of the Conservative Party and emerging as the next prime minister of the U.K. He added that as an Eastern European, he was prepared to share his experience in restoring its sovereignty from a union of which it never wanted to be a member, thus comparing the EU to the Soviet  Union.

In a social media post addressed at Ratas and Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) to follow on Wednesday, Maasikas asked whether, in light of a recent statement by Helme, Estonia's foreign policy course has remained unchanged.

"A member of the Government of the Republic is comparing the EU to the Soviet Union," Maasikas tweeted, tagging Ratas and Reinsalu. "Our diplomats are finding it increasingly difficult to say that policy has not changed."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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