Last week, the roadshow of the Finnish Prime minister Sanna Marin was taken first to Stockholm and then Tallinn. In Sweden, the meeting was a mere coffee break with fellow social democrats. But in Estonia, it was all about repairing the damage in front of an extremely attentive media.
In December, Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme of the Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) called the newly elected Finnish Prime minister “a cashier” and wondered how she and some “street activists” could hold government posts. These were surprisingly harsh words over the Gulf of Finland and between countries considering themselves as relatives.
Yet it was all smiles in front of the cameras when the Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas met his Finnish counterpart. In a press statement, “a timeless friendship” between the countries was praised and the talks concerning digitalisation, energy, climate and other common issues were said to deepen the special relationship. As if this wasn’t enough to brush all embarrassment under the carpet, the Estonian President, Kersti Kaljulaid later apologised for her Interior Minister’s remarks.
However, refusing to follow the script was EKRE, Estonia’s third largest party holding five ministerial posts in the government. Its voice, the newspaper Uued Uudised, published an article just before Marin’s visit targeting the Finnish President, Sauli Niinistö. The paper urged the president to wake up to the dangers of foreign influences and to the leniency of the current Finnish green and red government with immigration.
Finland was painted as a divided nation suffering from insecurity and tensions. Many EKRE supporters believe that the Finnish government has purchased apartments in Tallinn and is planning to inhabit them with refugees. In a column published in another paper close to EKRE, Objektiiv, Finland is portrayed as a country derailed and threatened by the European Union and its climate hysteria and liberal sexual legislation.
Mart Ummelas, an EKRE activist and journalist did not hold back his views in a Uued Uudised column. According to him, the Finnish-Estonian relationship has deteriorated in recent years. “The Finnish government of Sanna Marin represents everything we don’t want in Estonia.”
(Pekka Vänttinen, EURACTIV.com)