Estonia’s leaders have apologized after the country’s interior minister called the 34-year-old prime minister of neighboring Finland, Sanna Marin, “a sales girl.”
The interior minister, Mart Helme, 70, who is the leader of the far-right Estonian Conservative People’s Party, made the comment about Marin during a Sunday morning radio talk show as part of a larger tirade against the center-left government of Finland, which he said was trying to destroy the country from within.
“Now we can see that a sales girl has become prime minister and some other street activist and uneducated person has also become a member of the government,” Helme said, according to a translation from Finland’s state broadcaster YLE. He claimed that Finland was led by “Reds” who “are now desperately trying to liquidate Finland, making it a Euro-province.”
Marin has spoken with pride about her working-class roots and about her rise from a low-income household to become the world’s youngest national leader. On Monday, she responded indirectly, on Twitter, to Helme’s comment.
“I am extremely proud of Finland,” she wrote. “Here, a child from a poor family can get educated and achieve many things in their lives. The cashier of a shop can become a prime minister.”
The insult drew an immediate response from others within the Estonian government, who scrambled to control the fallout. President Kersti Kaljulaid called her Finnish counterpart to apologize for the remarks Monday, according to the Finnish state broadcaster, and Prime Minister Juri Ratas of Estonia wrote on Facebook that he had called Marin to apologize.
Print Headline: Sorry, Estonians tell Finnish leader after minister calls her ‘sales girl’