TALLINN - Estonian Defence Minister Jaak Joeruut tendered his resignation Monday after the director of a museum linked to his ministry wore a virulently anti-communist T-shirt to a football match.
A group of anti-communists contesting the October 16 local elections in Estonia distributed red T-shirts at a weekend football match, emblazoned with the slogan “Commies to the oven” and listing the names of 35 Estonian politicians who have been members of the Communist Party.
“The shirt had a list of people against whom it was directed, and it began with the names of the president and prime minister of Estonia,” Joeruut said in a statement to explain why he had handed his resignation to Prime Minister Andrus Ansip.
“When the director of a war museum belonging to the defence ministry of NATO and EU member country like Estonia goes along with a campaign to burn people in ovens, including the leaders of our own state, I’m totally lost,” Joeruut, who was a poet before he ...........
........... went into politics, said.
“Such an appeal surpasses the bounds of humanity and the limits beyondwhich democracy itself is placed in danger.”
Joeruut said that, to a lesser extent, he had chosen to resign over a series of recent banking and political scandals in Estonia.
“I am deeply troubled by what has happened recently in the Estonian banking and business circles,” he said.
“I am very much troubled when the interests of the political and business circles get entangled in such a way that no-one has clear answers, so that only big doubts about corruption remain hanging in the air.”
Ansip who has one month to decide whether to accept or reject a minister’s resignation, said he was in no hurry to let Joeruut go.
“I consider very important the stability of Estonia’s security and foreign policy,” he told journalists.
“This is not a carefully thought out resignation.”
Joeruut, a member of the prime minister’s Reform Party, said his decision to quit over the T-shirt was driven by the belief that ”every minister is responsible for what happens within his ministry”.
Joeruut’s name was also on the T-shirt list, but the poet-turned-politician said that was not the trigger for his resignation.
“In my heart, I am undergoing a lot of what alienates people from power and power from the people,” he said.
“We all want to be heard. My move is to resign.”
Joeruut became defence minister at the end of last year after his predecessor Margus Hanson lost the job after confidential documents were stolen from his home.
Other members of Estonia’s tripartite governing coalition said the resignation had taken them aback.
“The news was a surprise,” Villu Reiljan, chairman of the People’s Union, told journalists.
“But we understand the sensitive nature of an artist’s soul.”