Tallinn University dragged into European Migration Network decision controversy

Tallinn University (Postimees/Scanpix)
4/9/2015 2:18 PM
Category: Politics

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has appointed Tallinn University (TU) as the new Estonian Nation Contact Point of the European Migration Network (EMN NCP) in a move that competing institutions find controversial.

Tallinn University will take the duties of Estonian EMN NCP over from the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences. It will also get custody of the EMN NCP's annual 200,000-euro budget.

The objective of the EMN is to meet the information needs of community institutions and of member States’ authorities and institutions on migration and asylum, by providing up-to-date, objective, reliable and comparable information on migration and asylum, with a view to supporting policy-making in the European Union in these areas, and also provide the general public with information on these subjects. The Estonian contact point is a state institution under the Estonian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The ministry's decision regarding the new host of the NCP has been called controversial by the University of Tartu. "There was no public procurement, they just moved it. That leaves a lot of questions up in the air, for the Academy of Security Sciences had a well-established working group assigned to the project," professor Raul Eamets told ETV, adding that had there been a procurement, the university, which has sufficient expertise in the area, would have made a bid.

Ministry officials explained the decision to appoint TU as Estonia's new contact point with its more compatible research focus.

"From what I understand, the ministry wished to link EMN activities and academic activities a bit more," TU Rector Tiit Land said.

The European Commission is yet to give its support to TU.

Undersecretary resigns

Wedneday's news program "Aktuaalne Kaamera" also made public the fact that the ministry's undersecretary Leif Kalev is a professor at the Tallinn University, and his wife, political scientist Mari-Liis Jaksobson, has been appointed a temporary contact person of the EMN NCP by the university. Both Kalev and Jakobson told ETV that all relevant decisions were made by third parties, who were made aware of their relationship and did not see it as a problem.

Kalev said that if anything, the fact that he has close personal connections to TU made the process of moving the contact point there more difficult. "I tried to distance myself from it as much as possible and let the people who work in the area do their jobs," he told the reporter on Wednesday.

Today, Kalev announced his resignation as the undersecretary. In a letter sent to his colleagues at the ministry, he cited the uncomfort that having his private life dragged into the spotlight has caused him, and his wish to rekindle his academic career, which has suffered during his time at the office. The Minister of the Internal Affairs Hanno Pevkur has agreed to meet Kalev's request and accept his resignation as of June 15.

M. Oll

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