Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme announced his resignation on Monday after his comments on the outcome of the US presidential election caused an outcry.
Helme, of the populist EKRE party, questioned the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory and supported the claims of the Trump campaign in a radio interview broadcast on Sunday.
Biden, whom he described as “a corrupt character”, won the election thanks to the “deep state”, he said. But he went further.
With listeners, Helme also shared one of his dreams in which a civil war had erupted in America before justice prevailed and that Donald Trump would have remained president.
Helme’s son, Finance Minister and EKRE party chair, Martin Helme also appeared on the same TRE radio talk show and joined in his father’s rhetoric, saying the US election had been faked “plainly, boldly and on a massive scale”.
Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu and Defence Minister Juri Luik were quick to condemn their comments.
Helme’s words “undermine Estonian security and threaten to deteriorate US-Estonian relations,” the defence minister was quoted as saying by the Estonian News Agency.
For her part, President Kaljulaid confirmed she would call a Defence Council for a quick meeting.
Following his resignation, Mart Helme accused Estonian media of libel, adding that he had not in any way endangered the country’s security and ties with the US.
The now-former interior minister’s departure has been a long time coming. Not only did he previously call Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin a “cashier”, but he also urged gay people in Estonia to move to Sweden.
Across the Baltic Sea in Finland, the comments on the US election from the populist Finns Party have been muted.
There is no need to question the outcome if the process proves to be legal, Finns Party Chair Jussi Halla-Aho told the Finnish News Agency. Asked about the comments made by Helme, he described them as somewhat careless.
(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)