Estonia’s opposition called for interior minister Mart Helme to resign on Tuesday after he labelled Finland’s new prime minister a “shop girl”.
Helme said on Sunday the new Finnish government was trying to destroy its own country, comments that opposition leader Kaja Kallas said were humiliating to Estonia.
Estonia’s president has already apologised to Finland, whose new leader 34-year-old Sanna Marin became the world’s youngest prime minister last week.
Veteran Helme is leader and founder of the far-right Conservative People’s Party (EKRE), which joined the governing coalition after winning almost 18 percent of the vote in an election earlier this year.
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“Mart Helme has repeatedly injured the reputation of the Estonian state, if we let him go on as minister, he’ll be able to humiliate Estonia even further,” said Kallas.
The Reform Party leader added that her call for him to quit was supported by other opposition parties and even a lawmaker in the governing coalition.
However, a parliamentary motion of no confidence in Helme on Tuesday got only 44 votes in favour — falling seven votes short of the number required to force him out of his post.
Helme had told a radio interviewer that he doubted Marin and her government were capable of running Finland, riffing on Lenin’s maxim that a cook should be able to run a country.
“Now we see that a shop girl has become a prime minister and some other street activists and uneducated people have also become members of the government,” said Helme.
He went on to describe the new centre-left government as an act of “historic revenge by the Reds… desperately trying to destroy the Finnish state, turn Finland into some sort of ‘Euro-province’”.