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Estonia’s ambassador in Helsinki quits, takes parting shot at leading Estonian politicians

Harri Tiido reckons the conservative nationalist Ekre party’s statements have reduced Estonia’s room to manoeuvre internationally.

Harri Tiido
Harri Tiido is a former journalist. Image: Petteri Juuti / Yle

Estonia’s ambassador in Helsinki Harri Tiido has left his post mid-term, resigning on Friday.

The 66-year-old gave two reasons for his departure: his advanced age and differences of opinion with the Estonian government.

"My worldview differs so much from the current government’s world view," Tiido told Svenska Yle. "I thought that maybe it’s for the best that, if they are not going to leave their posts, then I have to leave my post."

Tiido is bothered by the conservative nationalist Ekre party’s stances.

"They are reducing, or have already reduced, Estonia’s room for manoeuvre internationally," said Tiido. "And they have also made relations between Estonia and Finland more difficult, as everyone knows."

Tiido referred to last year’s incident where the Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme of the Ekre party criticised the Finnish government and described Sanna Marin as 'the shop girl who became Prime Minister'.

Marin grew up in a low income family and had worked at a department store in Tampere before she went to university.

"They might think that they can say things like this in Estonia and in Estonian and on Estonian radio, for internal political purposes," said Tiido. “But everyone knows everything. And when diplomats have to ask for some support from Finland, it’s really difficult to go to the Finns after those kinds of statements."

Tiido also drew attention to the fact that Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas had a good relationship with his Finnish counterpart Juha Sipilä.

"Now I don’t believe that it would be possible for the Estonian Prime Minister to call the Finnish Prime Minister that easily and say 'let’s do something together'," said Tiido.

"Temporary situation"

Tiido says he believes that the current situation has not caused irreparable damage to the bilateral relationship. He regards the relationship as a logical conclusion of election results in the two countries.

"In principle after the last election the Estonian government moved to the right, and the Finnish government moved to the left," said Tiido. "The common ground is smaller than before. But in both Estonia and Finland the government is legal, as they are formed after legal, democratic elections."

"And now it is my problem, if I don’t like the current government and if I don’t want to represent it," said Tiido.

Tiido served in Helsinki for three years. He is a former journalist who became a diplomat in 2000. Now he plans to retire, but has no big plans for life as a pensioner.

"My wife does not believe that I am going to stay home reading books," said Tiido. "But I hope that I’ll get at least a little time to read."

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