«Ratas shakes our hand»

Mart Helme.

PHOTO: Madis Sinivee

Leader of the Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) Mart Helme has a plan should the Center Party and Reform Party form the next government between them: the reformists will paint themselves into a corner inside a year after which it will be impossible for Center to exclude EKRE.

Q: It recently turned out that Ruuben Kaalep, chairman of EKRE youth organization Blue Awakening, has engaged in trolling by using fake identities. You first described the corresponding article as mud-slinging but later approved of Kaalep’s practices.

MH: I said that I have no knowledge of it but added I see no problem with use of fake… pseudonyms and additional accounts. I know that Jevgeni Ossinovski has several fake accounts. He also engages in trolling! Reform Party youths always had and still have a troll group. And so does Pro Patria. However, I am livid with Ruben Kaalep for putting me in this position. I had just confessed to knowing nothing about it, and then goes and says it was him. We will take him down a peg or two at the upcoming board meeting.

Q: Ruuben Kaalep spoke at a conference that was described as being racist a few years back. An upcoming event of Blue Awakening will feature speakers described as white supremacists. You’ve said that black people have hollow heads, and Martin Helme said years ago that blacks should be shown the door. What kind of conclusions should one draw from all this?

MH: It’s another information operation. You know full well that I used the expression “hollow wood” to refer to students who do not qualify as such.

Q: You said it concerning black people.

MH: What I said also concerned Arabs and other foreign students who are practically illiterate. They cannot speak English – I cannot understand how they’ve come to study in our universities. What Martin said concerned immigration in general. We do not want to see Estonia become a garbage can for the surplus population of the Third World.

Q: Regarding your elections platform, both political competitors and opinion leaders suggested it looks like you do not want to be in the government. Any comment?

MH: If the Reform Party’s inept prime ministerial candidate says that she will not work with us, it is her problem and that of her party. In that case, give us a big enough mandate so we can form a government without Center and Reform. That is when Estonia will see positive change.

Q: Jüri Ratas has made it known Center does not plan to work with you either.

MH: He shakes our hand and behaves very differently behind the scenes. Those conversations are friendlier than what can be seen from the outside. This practice of ruling out cooperation serves the purpose of telling the voter: voting for EKRE is pointless because they will not make it to the government. It is political technology. Parliamentary arithmetic is limited to 101 seats. They will all negotiate with us if election results leave them no other choice.

Q: Perhaps that is your plan. To spend four years campaigning and then put together a government you’re comfortable with.

MH: Our calculation is realistic: by joining Center in their government, the Reform Party would end itself. Their rating would waver and their unity collapse – especially under such a talentless politician – that government would fall inside a year. That would call for a new government, one in which EKRE could no longer be sidelined.

Q: Your economic platform drew ruinous criticism. Why was that?

MH: Feedback was propagandistically ruinous. It was an information operation. It is the first time since Estonia regained its independence that an economic platform holds a moral dimension. The Republic of Estonia has been built at the expense of its people. We want to put an end to that.

Q: What kind of an example do Poland and Hungary set for Estonia?

MH: They are thinking of what’s best for their people, the well-being of members of that nation, protecting their countries’ interests. It has not been done in Estonia since we joined the European Union. What we have seen is general decline, surrender of sovereignty, endemic spread of corruption.

Q: You recently made Bloomberg when they wrote about a populist on the border of Eastern Europe who hopes to get a billion dollars from Donald Trump to develop national defense. How did you even come up with something like that?

MH: USA provides its allies with $51 billion in military aid every year. Estonia could get one billion to acquire medium-range anti-aircraft capacity, coast guard, armored capacity, modern small arms.

Q: Bloomberg described you as a populist. What does that mean and are you one?

MH: I’m not a populist. If turning my face to the people is populism, only then am I a populist. I don’t want to be a politician; I would like to be a writer instead. But because I see Estonia needs someone to stand up for its people, I am here – because I have spirit, knowledge and experience to play that role.

Q: To what extent are you sorry Jaan Männik and Siiri Sisask did not stay with you?

MH: It is unfortunate about Siiri Sisask. We met on several occasions to discuss our platform, and it seemed where we stood had a lot in common. She had nothing negative to say about us. Jaan Männik desperately wanted to join us, while we remained hesitant: that he is a big softy. And that is exactly what he turned out to be. And the softy ran.

Q: By the way, where is all that gay propaganda you keep talking about? I have children who go to school and kindergarten, and I have never come across anything like that.

MH: There is a workbook…

Q: Yes, I’ve seen it. It talks about different family models. That one image, one graph – that’s gay propaganda?

MH: That is gay propaganda. The fact schools were taken to the movies to see a gay film – that’s gay propaganda. We are against it. We want a constitutional amendment to define family as the union of a single man and a single woman.

Q: Is it not better if young people know there are homosexual people in the world?

MH: Listen, do you think I was born yesterday? Do you really think I didn’t know by the time I was fifteen that there are faggots? I knew it full well. Everyone did. I even knew people who were known to be gay. I knew who lesbians were. There was no talk of trannies back then. Everyone knew it existed – but it was not forced on us. Today, it is forced on us as a bright future – we cannot stand for that.

Q: You advocated for the death penalty a few years ago. Where do you stand today?

MH: I’m still very much in favor of it. Murderers are let loose as early as after 15 years. There are countless examples of these people committing new crimes: maiming and killing people. They are not people, they are animals. And animals need to be put down. It is sensible for the wellbeing of society.