It was a bad week for former environment minister Villu Reiljan, but comments recently made by Prime Minister Andrus Ansip reminded the public that the former People's Union leader did more in his term than take kickbacks from businessmen.
It came to light today that Reiljan, whose acquittal in a lower court was overturned yesterday, received a video greeting from Ansip on May 23, Reiljan's 60th birthday, in which the prime minister focused on the white squares of the ex-minister's checkered record.
"Villu Reiljan was a minister in my government," Ansip was quoted as saying on uudised.err.ee. "His status has not changed in any way in connection with yesterday's court decision. Yesterday's court decision has not come into effect, but even in its absence, Reiljan is a person who has been punished under criminal procedure. But Reiljan has also done much that is good for Estonia."
Ansip said that Reiljan established the Natura forest reserve in Estonia. "This is something that has turned out quite well," said Ansip.
He also credited Reiljan for establishing and successfully implementing the packaging deposit system, which Ansip said had drawn praise from other European countries.
"There's plenty to credit him for. I recommend to everyone if you see that someone has erred, those around him should help him pick up the pieces and go forward," said Ansip.