Järvik keeps ministerial position after meeting with prime minister

Minister of Rural Affairs Mart Järvik leaving Stenbocki maja after a meeting with the prime minister.
Minister of Rural Affairs Mart Järvik leaving Stenbocki maja after a meeting with the prime minister. Source: ERR

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) said a meeting with Minister of Rural Affairs Mart Järvik (EKRE) provided no "clear answers" on Monday evening, but resulted in the minister keeping his position.

Järvik, who while getting into this car outside the Stenbock House after the meeting, told reporters "I am a minister" but did not give any additional comments, ETV's Aktuaalne kaamera reported.

Järvik is at the center of a controversy which sprung up last week over a conflict of interest which saw his former advisor, Urmas Arumäe, representing defendants in an EU subsidy fraud case against the agricultural registers and information board (PRIA), a body which falls under the rural affairs ministry's remit.

Arumäe stepped down on Friday, but opposition parties are maintaining pressure for Järvik, already embroiled in a Listeria controversy at a fish-packing plant, to resign.

Secretary General of the Ministry of Rural Affairs Illar Lemetti claimed last week that Järvik declined to sign a mandate which would have allowed PRIA to claim damages in the subsidy fraud case. Järvik later said his assent was not needed, producing a letter from justice minister Raivo Aeg (Isamaa) to back up his case.

Järvik called for Lemetti to be sacked on Monday, a decision that must be made by the government and cannot be authorized by a single minister or party.

Minister of Finance and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) Mart Helme reiterated his support for Järvik on Friday, and said after the coalition council on Monday that if coalition partners pressured Järvik to resign "this government is gone."

On Monday the opposition Reform Party started gathering support for a vote of no-confidence against Järvik.  

Reform Party chairman Kaja Kallas said "There is serious suspicion that the minister has acted in the interests of his adviser's clients, repeatedly lied to the public, and put pressure on independent officials and agencies."  

Ratas: Meeting did not give clear answers

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said on Monday evening after his meeting with Järvik that the conversation did not give him any definite and clear answers. He hopes to discuss the issue further in the coming days, with the coalition and Centre Party.

Ratas told reporters the conversation lasted for half-an-hour and that he would not give a detailed overview of it. "But what I am saying is that this conversation did not give me firm and clear answers," he said.

On the question of whether Järvik will remain in office, Ratas told reporters: "Well, this should be discussed with the coalition partners and within the party in the coming days. The government is made up of three sides. If one leaves, the government has fallen. As prime minister, one must be ready for this moment. But I will work to keep this coalition going."

When asked about whether Lemetti should be dismissed at Järvik's request, Ratas confirmed that this issue would certainly not be on the agenda this Thursday.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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