Minister of the Interior and chairman of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) Mart Helme said on Thursday that discord over the allocation of support to the Estonian LGBT Association will not split up the coalition.
Speaking at Thursday's government press conference, Helme said that this issue has been an important one for EKRE "since the very beginning," adding that they were the ones who raised the subject.
"It is futile to expect for EKRE to be incapable of constructively discussing this issue with the Ministry of Social Affairs and [the party's] coalition partners," Helme continued, adding that there was no way this matter could split up the coalition.
Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Centre) said that the Ministry of Social Affairs has previously used gambling tax receipts to support organizations in its area of governance, and will do so again this year.
"All associations will continuously be able to submit their applications, "Kiik said. "Assessments have to be carried out correctly, without any political intervention."
The social affairs minister added that application assessments are still underway.
EKRE's own portal, Uued Uudised, has on several occasions criticized both Kiik and the Ministry of Social Affairs for allocating funding to the Estonian LGBT Association.
On Tuesday, Uued Uudised published a piece with the headline, "Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik accuses EKRE of attempting a mock executing — what is actually behind this?" That day, the piece featured a photo of Kiik with the words "Why do Estonians need an LGBT minister?" superimposed on him. By Tuesday evening, the portal had replaced the photo.
Prime minister: Criticism of Kiik 'unacceptable'
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) said that attacks by EKRE against Kiik are damaging the unity and cooperation of the current Centre-EKRE-Isamaa coalition.
"The parties' and their members' at times different views are understandable as such, but personally attacking one's partners on the basis thereof in no way contributes to common and agreed upon goals," Ratas wrote on Facebook Tuesday morning, adding that, on the contrary, such attacks undermine the coalition's unity and cooperation.
"I consider it completely unacceptable to attack [Kiik] in connection with his activity in the area of responsibility of the Ministry of Social Affairs," Ratas continued. "All the moreso because when forming the coalition, the Centre Party, EKRE and Isamaa agreed that we want to represent all people in Estonia. We also want to stand for a cohesive society, the members of which feel involved and in which gaps between different social groups are narrowing."
Editor: Aili Vahtla