Ratas: Decision about Järvik's future will be made next week ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

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Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas told ERR that the decision on whether or not to allow Mart Järvik to continue serving as Minister of Rural Affairs will be announced at the beginning of next week.

"This report has a total of 20 pages. In the next few days, I would like to work on it and consult with the leaders of the other government parties," Ratas said.

He said that all government partners take the report of the Secretary of State Commission seriously.

When asked if there would be news of Järvik's resignation or non-resignation soon, Ratas replied: "As soon as possible, but it could happen early next week."

Speaking at a government press conference on earlier on Thursday, Ratas (Centre) said that he had read the initial version of the report investigating Minister of Rural Affairs Mart Järvik (EKRE), but would like to read the final version of the report, which will be released later on Thursday.

Ratas could not say when he would make a decision based on the contents of the report, which is roughly 20 pages long and known as the Peterkop Report.

"This initial version has been presented to me this morning by the secretary of state," the prime minister said.

"I will read it through and then those decisions have to be made. After that, I will have consultations within the government and the coalition, and then those decisions have to be made," Ratas added.

"I have no reason to doubt that this is a balanced, document-based report," Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) said. "If it is released today, it will also be made available to me, to our party members, and also to the minister of rural affairs."

Helme added that he did not wish to meet Secretary of State Taimar Peterkop, who is running the inquiry, before the report was published because it might be misunderstood. "I don't know what's out there. I'll read it when it's released," he said.

Asked at a press conference whether EKRE is ready for plan B, should the report suggest that Järvik should resign, the interior minister quoted Vladimir Lenin, saying, "'Whoever works without a plan works poorly.' Of course, we have many options. /.../ According to our records, we do not see it as big a problem as our impartial and propaganda-free media have presented here. So let's wait."

However, if the report were to identify problems in Järvik's work, Helme said it would be necessary to discuss the matter with coalition partners. "I think in that case, the coalition partners will meet and discuss the content and conclusions of the report together," Helme said.

Last week, Peterkop convened a ten-day commission as requested by Ratas to deliver conclusions on issues raised by the Ministry of Rural Affairs.

A scandal engulfed Järvik after a potential conflict of interest was revealed several weeks ago which saw his former adviser, 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 has stepped down, but opposition parties are maintaining pressure for Järvik, already embroiled in a controversy surrounding Listeria bacteria traced to a fish-packing plant, to resign.

Ratas tasked the committee to investigate the powers both granted and refused to PRIA, and the alleged conflict of interest with Arumäe. The Listeria controversy is also being investigated, where Järvik made contradictory statements and came into conflict with the Veterinary and Food Board (VTA).

Last week, Järvik survived a vote of no-confidence brought against him by the opposition Reform Party. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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