MEP: Attempt to fire police chief latest compromise of country's integrity

Urmas Paet (Reform).
Urmas Paet (Reform). Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

MEP Urmas Paet (Reform) says the reputation of the Estonian government is in tatters, following an attempt to remove chief of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) chief, Elmar Vaher, without due process.

Paet, a former foreign minister, whose party is in opposition at the Riigikogu, says the government's reputation has been destroyed, adding the restoration of even some vestiges of authority in the executive as an institution will be very taxing for future governments.

"Who is still taking the current government seriously?" Paet asked, according to BNS.

"Estonia's political culture has also severely deteriorated," he added, recalling the resignation of Mihhail Korb (Centre) over two years ago, and the factors behind it.

Paet noted that if Estonia had the same political culture today as it did then, several members of the government would have had to have resigned several times over already.

Korb resigned in May 2017 after comments he made concerning his opposition to Estonia's membership of NATO came to light.

"But we do not [have the same political culture today]. Now, it matters not one whit what a member of government does or says, and how dangerous that could be to the state of Estonia, because there are no repercussions. Boasting and bragging goes on. Running down the state's police chief and illegally attempting to fire him is not only ridiculous, but an actual threat to the entire country," Paet said.

"This is in the same manner that Estonia has damaged by a university being called a place for fattening up horse thieves, gynecologists being traumatized, or those wishing for Estonia's independence at the Song Festival Grounds to be collectively denigrated," Paet continued, referring to other recent escapades involving Mart and Martin Helme and other members of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE).

"All this is the result of the past 100 days (a milestone the current coalition recently passed-ed.). I simply do not understand how this kind of activity can still have the support of the Riigikogu majority," he added.

Interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) returned from vacation Thursday afternoon with the announcement that Elmar Vaher should step down as head of the PPA. This followed a war of words between Helme's son, Martin, finance minister and deputizing for his father while the latter was away, and Vaher. Vaher had claimed that around 150 redundancies were in the offing at the PPA, something which Martin Helme and other EKRE members strenuously rejected, saying the claim was dishonest.

Prime minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) has so far stood by Vaher, who said the attempt to remove him in effect went against the rule of law. President Kersti Kaljulaid is set to schedule a meeting with the prime minister soon to discuss the matter.

A 2004 case set a precedent of individual ministries not removing heads of state authorities unilaterally, after the Riigikogu condemned then-finance minister Tõnis Palts' forcing of the resignation of Aivar Sõerd from the tax authority the previous year.

Urmas Paet was elected to the European Parliament in the May elections.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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