Foreign Minister Urmas Paet has turned down a seat at the European Parliament, vacated by Andrus Ansip, and will continue his ministerial duties.
“Taking into consideration the stressful situation in Europe and in neighboring areas I think the right thing to do is to carry on protecting Estonian interests as the foreign minister and turn down the chance to go to the European Parliament,” Paet said in a press release today.
Ansip, who is set to become a European Commissioner, said Paet has the mandate of the people to take up a seat in the European Parliament and would quickly find a role there.
As Paet gained the third most votes (8,655) for the Reform Party at the EP elections earlier in the year, he was in line for a MEP seat after Ansip. Now Igor Gräzin (975) or Jürgen Ligi (630) are set to take the seat. Ansip picked up 45,022 votes, followed by Kaja Kallas with 21,498. The party won two seats, compared to one each for the other three parliamentary parties and one for an independent candidate.
There has been speculation that Paet will take up the well-paid MEP position, as the party does not want to hand him a top ministerial job after the next elections, and could go with current environment minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus instead.
A previous version of the story said Ansip tips Paet for a seat in the European Parliament, but Paet said today he will continue to work for a healthier and more tolerant Estonia and fight for a stronger and more safe international position.