Estonia’s new government hit by first resignation hours after taking oath

Estonia’s new government hit by first resignation hours after taking oath
By Wojciech Kosc in Warsaw May 2, 2019

Estonia’s IT and foreign trade minister Marti Kuusik resigned from office on April 30 after allegations surfaced linking him to domestic violence.

Kuusik was one of five ministers representing the far-right EKRE party in Estonia’s new tripartite coalition government led by Prime Minister Juri Ratas of the Centre party. The conservative group Fatherland completes the cabinet line-up.

Ratas’ agreeing a coalition deal with EKRE proved the biggest controversy following the March parliamentary election in the EU and Nato member Estonia. An EU-sceptic and anti-immigration party, EKRE was considered a pariah by the main parties Reform and Centre, which pledged no cooperation with the far-right.

But the Centre party losing the vote to Reform led Ratas to offer a place in the government to EKRE in a successful attempt to ensure a second four-year term in power. 

The new government was sworn in on April 29, prompting concerns over Estonia’s altering its so far staunch pro-Western course. Ratas insists Estonia will remain committed to the EU and Nato.

Kuusik told local media the reports linking him to domestic violence were “slander” and a media campaign against him. The minister’s ex-wife Karin Kuusik also defended her former husband.

“The decision of the prosecutor's office to start criminal proceedings against me has been added to the terrifying media attack launched against me in recent days,” Kuusik said in a statement, ERR reported.

“I am giving up the office not because the accusations against me are true, but, on the contrary, in order to focus on defending myself in the criminal proceedings and restoring my good name," Kuusik added.

PM Ratas did not offer any support for Kuusik’s claims of a slanderous attack against him. 

“I unequivocally condemn all types of family and close relationship violence. The police always take all such cases very seriously, regardless of the person's position. The most important thing is for victims to receive help and be protected," Ratas told Estonian media.