The Center Party consigned itself into the opposition in Tartu following infighting when the ruling Reform Party said on Monday it would form a new coalition with the social democrats. Does Center's Secretary General Mihhail Korb know what happened? He does. But is he willing to talk about it?
January 20, 2020 is a dark day for the Center Party – you lost power in Estonia's second largest city, Tartu.
Politics is a process. We are talking about losing power in Tartu today, while a member of the Center Party recently became the mayor of Rakvere.
Of course, this is not a day to rejoice. It is the party's task to continue its work, while it is more difficult to represent one's voters in the opposition.
Who is to blame for Center landing in the opposition in Tartu?
There is always someone to blame… But I believe no one person can be held responsible here.
To look for culprits, the secretary general [Mihhail Korb] can also blame himself for allowing things to go so far. I would blame myself and think about how it came to this.
Generally speaking, looking for someone to blame is not the best route in such situations. The right thing to do is to analyze the incident and avoid it happening again in the future.
Why was the Tartu office of the Center Party unable to defuse the conflict?
We would like it if regional organizations made their own decisions and cleared up their own things.
It is democratic process we saw in the Tartu branch. It would not be 100 percent right to intervene there. The branch made its own decisions, took its own steps and now has its result.
However, party chairman Jüri Ratas, deputy chair Mailis Reps and yourself went on a conciliation mission to Tartu.
Had all sides respected the agreements we made, things would not have gone that far.
What should new regional chairman Jaan Toots have done?
Jaan Toots acted in accordance with the region's decision and did what the branch wanted.
The Center Party has so far managed to smooth over all tensions with EKRE and Isamaa in the central government – how come that policy did not pan out in Tartu?
Because of people's personal ambitions.
Was it about Deputy Mayor Monica Rand refusing to resign?
It is hard to say what would have proved decisive.
What happened happened, and we have nothing to be proud of there. We need to draw conclusions and get back to work.
Perhaps the Tallinn delegation failed to grasp the special spirit of Tartu?
Tartu no doubt has a special spirit. That is why we gave our people there free rein. No one told them what to do [from Tallinn].
Do you believe Center's regional board should resign over this failure?
It is difficult to say in this case whether they succeeded or failed…
They clearly failed.
They clearly failed in this particular episode, yes. You cannot exercise your policy without power.
The entire branch has acted in unison, it is the result of common actions. Resignation… That will have to be decided by the delegates of the annual meeting [of the Tartu branch of Center]. Democracy.
Chairman of the Center Party, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas described the party ending up in the opposition in Tartu as a lesson to be learned. What did it teach you?
That politics is the art of compromise and you should look compromises first, instead of perceiving a rigid position as a possible solution.
Who disagreed to look for a compromise in Tartu?
I believe a compromise was sought, while it was not found and everyone lost in the end.
Editor: Marcus Turovski