Juhan Parts (IRL), member of the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, told ERR in light of announcement of Keit Pentus-Rosimannus as the candidate for Minister of Foreign Affairs position, that he is surprised by how short the Reform Party's bench to fill the vacant government seat actually was. Another politician, Mart Helme from the right-wing Conservative People's Party, calls the nomination a "palace game".
Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas nominated Keit-Pentus Rosimannus, currently the Minister of the Environment, as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, replacing Urmas Paet, who will fill Estonia's vacant seat in the European Parliament. The Ministry of the Environment will be run by Mati Raidma.
"I cannot recall a single opinion, idea or action by the new foreign minister designate that concerns foreign policy. This raises serious questions," Parts told ERR.
He added that the Foreign Affairs Committee should soon meet Pentus-Rosimannus to have a proper hearing and discuss with her the topical foreign policy and security issues, as well as her long term goals.
"The worst that can happen now is if Estonia loses a decision-making and leadership capacity in its diplomatic service," warned the IRL's prime minister candidate, adding that the parliament committee will do everything in its power to keep that from happening.
Sven Mikser, the head of the Reform Party's coalition partner, the Social Democrats, agrees that neither of the new ministers has much experience in the departments they are about to run, but "they are both experienced politicians who will cope with their new roles."
Parts, on the other hand, was critical of the argument that Pentus-Rosimannus is an experienced politician: "A curriculum vitae is not at all important here - what matters is the actual experience in foreign policy, critical thinking and analysis skills, and a good social network."
Parts would have preferred to see a former EU Commissioner Siim Kallas in the role, but said that the Reform Party would have never agreed to that.
In regard to the new Minister of the Environment Raidma, he said that he expects the latter to reconsider those decisions taken by Pentus-Rosimannus that would have a negative effect on the economy, such as the decisions impacting the Estonian oil shale industry, and Rail Baltic railway link.
Helme, one of the founders of the Conservative People's Party, said that "the soap opera surrounding the Foreign Ministry" can be described as a "palace game" and it is a sign of the Reform Party's weakness.
"It all shows that the prime minister has no authority neither within his own party, nor as the head of the government. The Reform Party is not acting in the best interest of Estonia, but tries to fill the vacant seats by playing with personalia in anticipation of the upcoming elections," Helme claimed.
But Eiki Berg, a professor of international relations at the University of Tartu, does not agree with Parts's opinion of Pentus-Rosimannus as an unexperienced in foreign policy. Berg pointed out that Pentus-Rosimannus was a councelor to Kristiina Ojuland when she was the minister of foreign affairs. He believes that the choice of Pentus-Rosimannus over Jaak Jõerüüt and Marina Kaljurand - another two names that were suggested ahead of the nomination - was carried by Reform Party's wish to appoint ministers according to party's political hierachy. Marina Kaljurand, for instance, is not affiliated to the Reform Party and as is generally the case, ministers are long-standing party members. Maris Lauri, the new Minister of Finance, is an exception to this rule, athough she also had to join the party in order to become a minister.