The president of Estonia has apologized after the country’s interior minister mocked Finland’s new Prime Minister Sanna Marin and called her a “sales girl.”
President Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia apologized for the comments of interior minister and populist far-right EKRE party leader Mart Helme toward Finland’s newly elected Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
Helme questioned Marin’s ability to run her country and during his party’s radio talk show on Sunday, he said: “Now we see how one sales girl has become a Prime Minister and how some other street activists and non-educated people have also joined the cabinet.”
Marin, who is also the leader of Finland’s Social Democratic party, has discussed before about her life growing up in a disadvantaged family and working as a cashier prior to studying at university. She became the world’s youngest sitting prime minister earlier this month after she replaced Antti Rinne.
Marin wrote in a tweet: “I’m extremely proud of Finland. Here a poor family’s child can educate themselves and achieve their goals in life. A cashier can become even a Prime Minister.”
According to a statement on the website of Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Kaljulaid issued the apology during a phone call with him on Monday.
Helme tried to justify his remarks by arguing: “That specific sentence about the Finnish Prime Minister, which you have interpreted as demeaning, I have actually interpreted as complimentary — as recognition that someone can work their way up from a low social standing to the peak of politics.”
Because of his comments, Helme was subjected to a vote of no-confidence in the Estonian parliament but he was able to survive it. This was after President Kaljulaid spoke over the phone with Estonia Prime Minister Jüri Ratas on Sunday and “suggested that the minister of interior should be replaced.”