Ermamaa: The fine art of passing the buck ({{commentsTotal}})

Dario Cavegn Source: (Image: Jacques-Alain Finkeltroc)

Admit nothing, blame everyone: those most closely involved in the Ermamaa case don’t need arguments, writes ERR News editor Dario Cavegn.

Enterprise Estonia’s new CEO, Sille Talvet-Unt, said on ETV’s "Ringvaade" talk show earlier this week that Toomas Hendrik Ilves had not been given preferential treatment, as he had been the president and a similar decision would have been made in the case of someone else in the same situation.

This is a sentence that needs some digesting first. Because it does two things. First of all, it assumes that all of the public outrage and all of the negative reactions in the Ermamaa case have been directed against the person of Toomas Hendrik Ilves. Not the situation, not the case, not the involvement of the highest office in the land — just his person.

And second, it states with depressing clarity that apparently it is perfectly obvious that yes, anyone else would have been treated the same way — so long as they had been the president.

That what took place in the case of OÜ Ermamaa was in at least some way improper is a point almost everyone seems to agree with by now. The question is just in the nature of the impropriety. Some may prefer to see it as morally reprehensible, an abuse of position, an attempt at protecting a high ranking official and superior, or simply a lousy job done as far as Enterprise Estonia is concerned.

But what is simply stunning is the total absence of the realization among those most closely involved that what happened represents a serious problem for the integrity of the office of the Estonian president.

Former Enterprise Estonia CEO Maria Alajõe said in her most recent interview with ERR’s radio news that she was never alone at the top, and that she could never be seen as ultimately responsible for what went on in Enterprise Estonia while she was in charge in 2012. This is grade-A buck-passing.

First the consultants handled it, then the lawyers, she explained. The lawyers then made their recommendations, and drafted the decisions to be signed. And they were signed, by Alajõe, as the "management member involved in the tourism department" — though, as she points out, explicitly not as the fund’s chief executive.

Which is really rather funny, seeing as Alajõe was literally the only member of Enterprise Estonia’s top management level at the time. There was no one else ultimately responsible. Still, judging by her own words, responsibility was not part of the job description.

Going back to the narrative that all of the backlash against the former president is exclusively personal and nothing of it in any way reasonable, what we’re looking at is the single most convenient defense anyone involved could ever dream of.

According to Schopenhauer, "A last trick is to become personal, insulting, rude, as soon as you perceive that your opponent has the upper hand, and that you are going to come off worst." In dealing with the Estonian public, those responsible in the Ermamaa case as well as their defenders have inverted this principle: by accusing them of being nothing more than personal, insulting, and rude, they don’t even need to bother finding arguments.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

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