Mart Järvik, Estonian minister of rural affairs and member of the junior partner of the government coalition Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE), wrote on social media that Prime Minister Jüri Ratas did not care about the evidence produced by Järvik at the minister's meeting with the premier on Monday evening.
"I gave very concrete answers to all Ratas' questions. I had a stack of documents with me providing concrete facts and evidence. When I offered them to Jüri as proof of what I had said, he said that he didn't need them. That's how it was. All the questions he asked were distinctly recognizable - they had been produced by Secretary General [of the Ministry of Rural Affairs] Illar Lemetti," Jarvik said.
Ratas told reporters after meeting with Järvik on Monday evening that his conversation with the minister did not give him any clear definitive answers and he hopes to discuss the issue with the coalition partners and the Center Party over the next few days.
"I met with him. These suspicions that have been presented with regard to him did not overrule my perception or bring clarity to the matter in any way," the prime minister said.
When asked whether Järvik will continue in the position, Ratas said that this must be discussed with coalition partners and within the party over the next few days.
"Like I said, we'll discuss it with the coalition partners," the prime minister told journalists, adding that the meeting did not give him any answers or increase his confidence.
"The government consists of three parties. If one of them leaves, the government will fall. As prime minister, one must be ready for every moment in life, but I am making efforts to ensure this coalition will continue," the government leader said, commenting on a statement made by EKRE, according to which the government will collapse should Jarvik be forced to quit.
When asked whether he had recommended for Järvik to resign, the prime minister said that the conversation between them lasted for half an hour and he does not intend to give a detailed overview of it.
Järvik was at the center of controversy 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.
Editor: Helen Wright