UPDATE 1:45 EST: Postimees reports that Mihhail Korb has resigned his cabinet post. Korb apologized for his comments outside the Prime Minister’s office at Stenbock House in Tallinn, telling reporters that he regretted the confusion they may have caused. “I understand the weight of my mistake” he said, “because of this, I’m resigning.”
«Vabandan oma sõnavõtu pärast, seda segadust ei oleks tohtinud tekkida ja ma mõistan oma vea raskust. Seetõttu astun tagasi,» ütles Korb täna õhtul Stenbocki maja juures ajakirjanikele. Korb lausus, et otsustas tagasi astuda eelkõige seetõttu, et hoida koalitsiooni koos.
Regional Estonian newspaper, Lääne Elu, and state media reports that the Center Party’s Minister of Public Administration, Mihhail Korb, stated at a meeting with army veterans in Haapsalu on Tuesday, that he was not in favor of Estonia’s membership in NATO. According to reports, he issued an apology on Wednesday afternoon.
Responding to a comment from the audience that money spent on military hardware should instead be given to pensioners, Korb replied that “this is NATO’s demand — Estonia is a member of NATO,” he continued, “I am not the Ministry of Defence. When the Ministry of Defence visits you, ask him.”
“I… might say a phrase that is disagreeable from the Estonian perspective — I am not in favor of NATO membership,” Korb told the group of veterans. “I like Finland’s policy on this matter. But to build your own army, that will get even more expensive. Do you understand? The Finns are building their own army; they are separate from NATO and are handling the protection of their country themselves. But nobody will come to their rescue.”
I like Finland’s policy on this matter
Tsahkna and Michal: Korb Cannot Continue as Minister
Estonian Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna (IRL), responded Korb’s statement on social media stating that the Minister should not be part of the Estonian government if he does not support Estonia’s NATO membership.
“On my way from Iraq to the NATO summit in Brussels, I read in amazement about the position of a minister of the Government of the Republic of Estonia,” Tsahkna wrote on social media. “NATO membership is the guarantor of Estonian independence and security. If a government minister believes that Estonia shuold not belong to NATO, then his place is not in the government. Estonia’s security is guaranteed by NATO membership and the understanding that we will never be aloneagain. There is no room for debate over this.”
Tsahkna’s statment was echoed by opposition members. Reform Party member, Kristen Michal, wrote that Korb’s position is rooted in the cooperation agreement between the governing Center Party and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia.
Michal wrote on Facebook that he doesn’t “believe that such a political party shouldn’t lead the government”. He added that “a message from a member of the government that Estonia should not be in NATO looks like a resurrection of the protocol between the Center Party and United Russia. Estonia will hold the presidency of the EU in a couple of months and things are getting increasingly more embarrassing.”