Decide on Vaher next move once facts clear, says Isamaa leader

Helir-Valdor Seeder.
Helir-Valdor Seeder. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Isamaa leader Helir-Valdor Seeder has called for getting to the bottom of the truth of both sides in the controversy over calls for the resignation of Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) chief Elmar Vaher made by interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE), before making a decision on what to do next.

"I think the state in Estonia is resilient enough and on this strong footing we can state when we are acting in accordance with the rule of law. The facts must be ascertained as to whether allegations made by either party are true, whether they have any basis in fact or not, and then to base decisions on these facts.

Calls for Vaher to resign came from Mart Helme on Thursday afternoon, following a war of words involving his son, Martin, the finance minister, deputizing while Helme senior was on vacation, on the issue of redundancies at the PPA. Vaher had claimed earlier in the week that around 150 redundancies would be made in his organization, something which Martin Helme had strenuously rejected.

"Once we are clear in dealings with all parties involved, decisions must be made and action taken, "Seeder continued, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

Seeder declined to say whether Vaher had his or his party's full trust as PPA chief, though hinted at issues with the organization. Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) had on Thursday evening backed Vaher in continuing in the role, overruling Mart Helme.

"If you're asking whether we trust or distrust anyone, then I certainly cannot answer in black and white," Seeder said.

"It is not within my competence at this time to make an assessment where I do not currently know all the facts and background to these events. But I can assure you that there have been problems with the PPA over a long period, "said Seeder.

"There have been emotional moments before and differences of opinion at the level of substantive politics," said Seeder, when asked if the crisis which erupted on Thursday was the toughest test for the current administration since it took office in late April.

"The fact that EKRE has its own opinion and stance on some of the highest officials was well-known to us all, dating back to the pre-election period... in addition, it would be highly desirable to be guided by a good political culture and best practices, "Seeder added.

Justice Minister: Vaher has my trust

Despite Seeder's seemingly neutral stance on trust in Elmar Vaher, party-mate Raivo Aeg, the justice minister, said that he had no reason not to trust the PPA chief, a former colleague.

At the time I worked with him in the police, there was a good deal of cooperation; afterwards, so far as contact or cooperation went, he did not come up with excuses," Aeg said.

Aeg also said there was no current crisis in the coalition government, noting that questions about Vaher's personal conduct had not arisen at government or cabinet level before. He did note that it would have been optimal to have discussed the matter before acting, however, since ultimately the decision on Vaher is a government matter.

Martin Helme issued an apology on Thursday evening, for having acted unilaterally in the Vaher case and in the interior minister's absence.

"Certainly, against the backdrop of all the political panic that has been occurring, I have to admit that I made the mistake of interfering so quickly and forcefully in the affairs of another ministry," Helme wrote on his social media account.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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