Ex-ambassador Helme warns France against repeating political mistakes

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Photo: Erik Prozes

Chairman of the Estonian Conservative People's Party Mart Helme, former Estonian ambassador to Russia, has sent a public letter to French Ambassador Michel Raineri drawing parallels between the sale of Mistral amphibious assault ships to Russia and the Franco-Prussian War that ended in France's defeat.

In the letter, Helme said he regrets having to dwell on circumstances that are spoiling relations between Estonia and France.

"If the French government goes through with the transaction to sell Mistrals, this can be absolutely unambiguously treated as a betrayal of allies. All the more so because Estonia responded without hesitation to the French request to send soldiers to the Central African Republic where we do not have any economic or political interests and which we aren't tied to by moral debt arising from your country's colonial past," Helme wrote, adding that stressing the financial argument in the Mistral deal is cynical.

"Moreover, it's no secret that proposals have already been made according to which the Mistrals could be sold to NATO countries to compensate France's financial losses; readiness for it has been expressed by Canada and the U.S.A. We fully support this option," it stands in the letter.

The former ambassador said big countries shouldn't let themselves be deceived by the idea that they know better how to arrange international relations. He also cautioned against repeating the political and diplomatic mistakes that were conducive to the breakout of the Frenco-Prussian War, which France lost.

Helme said that while his warnings can be viewed as an affront, the sale of Mistrals to Russia will fundamentally change the balance of power in the Baltic Sea and will inevitably lead to aggressive military actions. In the words of Helme, he fears that the Mistral sale materializing will once again bring with it human casualties, which can still be prevented.

"Or maybe the French government as our ally has plans and readiness to stand up alongside us in a war with Russia? To drown in that war the Mistrals produced by it and delivered by it to Russia?" Helme asked. "We would be grateful for information about this."

Mart Helme served as Estonia's ambassador to Russia from 1995 to 1999.

In April this year EKRE, a non-parliamentary political force that is the product of a merger of People's Union, a predominantly rural former parliamentary party, and the Estonian Patriotic Movement, elected Helme its chairman.