Speaking live on ERR online news broadcast "Otse Uudistemajast" on Wednesday, Minister of Finance and Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) deputy chairman Martin Helme said that he did nothing illegal in the police chief scandal to break last week, and that despite the president's recommendation, he would not be resigning as minister.
"Of course not, and I don't understand this demand either," Helme replied when asked by journalist Toomas Sildam whether he intended to resign as recommended by President Kersti Kaljulaid.
Referring to the scandal that broke last Thursday after Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) Director General Elmar Vaher was asked by Helme, acting in the name of his father, Minister of the Interior and EKRE chairman Mart Helme, to resign, the finance minister said that senseless hysteria has sprung up as though he had done something illegal.
"There is nothing illegal in proposing a subordinate to resign from their position," Helme said. "People talking about the rule of law being under threat are already in hysterics themselves."
Nonetheless, he ceded that Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) was justifiably angry over the situation, as the former had not run his actions by EKRE's coalition partners beforehand.
"It is rather Kersti Kaljulaid who has repeatedly demonstrated that she is not fit for office," Helme continued. "She has expressed hatred toward a parliamentary political party. She has positioned herself as an opposition leader residing at Kadriorg Palace. She doesn't understand her role in a parliamentary state. We have told her before: resign yourself. If a country's president, who should be above politics, is involved in undermining a democratically elected government, she is also undermining the constitutional order as well as dividing society."
The Vaher incident was followed by a desperate but, in his opinion, final attempt to break up the current government. He believes that the coalition emerged stronger and the opposition weaker from this scandal.
"All summer, the Reform Party tried to butter up the Centre Party in an attempt to get the Centre Party to ditch the government," Helme said. "Now attempts are underway to increase internal tensions within the Centre Party, but this will fail as well. The Reform Party has taken things in a new direction, attempting to to clog up Estonian politics. To achieve extraordinary elections in cooperation with the president."
Nonetheless, Helme considered it highly unlikely that extraordinary elections would occur. He said that Ratas' second government has been easier for him than his first, which consisted of Centre, Isamaa and the Social Democratic Party (SDE).
"This big talk of there being tensions in the government is total fantasy," he said. "It is rather the opposition that is destructive; they don't have any sort of plan whatsoever. They're thrashing around — like that motion of no confidence against the prime minister. They aren't capable of forming an alternative government."
Helme: Vaher still lied
Regarding Vaher's future as director general of the PPA, Helme said that the prime minister has told them to restore peace.
"And this wish will be taken into account," he continued. "But in Elmar Vaher's situation, where a superior and a subordinate have fallen out with one another, the subordinate is the one that has to make a greater effort to get their employment relationship back to normal."
Helme remained critical of Vaher, however, accusing him of lying publicly and working against his own minister.
"He was given no guidelines to make cuts at the expense of employees," he said. "The agencies of other other administrative areas submitted their plans and proposals to the ministers. And only then would communication follow. Not that we go to the papers first and then the minister reads [about it] from the paper."
Editor: Aili Vahtla