Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) MP Urmas Reitelmann was endorsed as a Riigikogu delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Thursday, as was Reform Party MP Vilja Toomast, the latter as a substitute member.
"With a narrow majority, those who supported the candidacy of Urmas Reitelmann won," said chair of the foreign affairs committee Enn Eesmaa (Centre) to ERR.
"The committee discussed the topic very seriously and we decided to submit two draft decisions. One concerned substitute member Vilja Toomast and the other concerned Urmas Reitelmann," Eesmaa said.
Eesmaa said that a vote was taken on Reitelmann's, while Toomast was endorsed by some toher consensus, noting that he voted in favor of Reitelmann's candidacy.
According to Eesmaa, Reitelmann has promised to stick to Estonia's foreign policy course.
"I talked with Urmas Reitelmann and he certainly reassured me and denounced any utterances he had made that went over the top. I have said to him directly that these were not acceptable for a politician; he has drawn his own conclusions. He has also assured me on repeated occasions that he will definitely observe Estonia's foreign policy course," Eesmaa said.
Eesma said also said Reitelmann should be given a second chance.
Announcements of Reitelmann's alluded to probably included having called Estonia's Russian-speaking residents "parastical 'tiblas'" (a derogatory term for a Russian person) as well as calling refugees "cockroaches of convenience."
At least one opposition MP expressed their disappointment in Reitelmann's appointment.
Raimond Kaljulaid, an independent MP and foreign affairs committee member, said the development was very said.
"What happened in the Riigikogu foreign affairs committee today? Deputies from the Centre Party and Isamaa voted with EKRE for Urmas Reitelmann, who has called our compatriots of Russian ethnic origin 'parasites' and 'tiblas,' to be our representative on PACE. Sad, very sad. Frankly, I cannot recall any other case of such betrayal of voters in Estonia's recent history," Kaljulaid wrote on his social media account.
Editor: Andrew Whyte