In an interview with Raadio Kuku, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) said that in the midst of a situation he described as “fairly hysterical,” he considers his first priority right now to be to soothe growing tensions in Estonian society. Regarding the recent behavior of several government members, he also echoed the sentiments of Minister of the Interior and Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) chairman Mart Helme, noting that EKRE would not grow into a coalition party overnight.
“The most important thing for me is to maintain peace and a reasonable and friendly line,” Ratas said on Raadio Kuku’s “Nädala tegija” when asked by journalist Ülle Lants about the government’s plans. “Our state and people are too dear to come to blows on these 45,000 square kilometers. This very polarizing and turbulent situation needs to be calmed down.
“The situation is fairly hysterical,” the prime minister continued, adding that people are clutching at any straws they can, wanting to see if they can ignite a fire and whether an explosion will follow. “I’m not sure we understand that this could set the whole straw roof on fire.”
According to Ratas, the government — his second — will remain on its current path. “I don’t think anything in Estonia has been turned upside down,” he stressed. “Estonia will maintain its course when it comes to foreign and security policy.”
Commenting on the behavior of several EKRE politicians, the Centre Party chairman said that it will take time for the junior member of the government coalition to get used to not being part of the opposition anymore.
“It is clear that it is fairly difficult to grow into a coalition party in the opposition, and so said EKRE chairman Mart Helme as well — that this wouldn’t happen overnight,” the prime minister said.
He also recalled autumn 2016, when he campaigned ahead of the elections for Centre Party chair, and the expectations the party had when forming the government after being part of the opposition for ten years.
According to Ratas, the fact is that EKRE received a lot of votes in the 2019 Riigikogu election, and EKRE should not be kept out of the government at all costs, as its voters likewise deserve to be represented in the government.
“One party will never change Estonia’s policies; we have a coalition government, and one party is not deciding anything on its own,” the prime minister said. “Let’s not act as though someone is a wolf to someone else. Appreciate the positive, which we have a lot more of than negative.”