New IT and foreign trade minister Raul Siem takes Riigikogu oath ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Raul Siem taking his oath of office at the Riigikogu Tuesday.
Raul Siem taking his oath of office at the Riigikogu Tuesday. Source: Government Office.

Incoming Minister for Foreign Trade and IT Raul Siem (EKRE) took his oath of office at the Riigikogu Tuesday.

Siem was appointed at the end of last week after the sudden dismissal of Kaimar Karu, who had occupied the post since November, making him the fourth minister in the role since the current coalition took office nearly a year ago.

Government ministers do not sit at the Riigikogu, and Siem has never been an MP. Ministers do however have to regularly appear before MPs at question time.

"Raul Siem is joining the government at a difficult time, when there is not much time to bed down before getting stuck in immediately," said Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) of the appointment, according to a government press release.

"I wish the new minister a rapid stepping up [to the role] and a quick integration. I hope that Siem puts in an effective contribution to bringing Estonia out of the crisis caused by COVID-19," Ratas added.

"At the same time he also has a responsible role to play in leading the development of our digital state, supporting domestic companies in foreign markets and attracting foreign investment to Estonia."

Kaimar Karu, who was not a Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) member, was relieved of his post by interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE), who cited a difference of worldviews, last Friday, with Siem being named his replacement on the same day.

Karu had been in the post since November 2019, replacing Kert Kingo. The latter had been appointed to replace Marti Kuusik, who was in office for a little over a day, before having to step down amid domestic violence allegations.

Siem, 46, had been an interior ministry advisor since last year. His background before that was in the law, as a legal office manager and legal consultant. He has also worked as a director of security at Tallinn prison and at the Tax and Customs Authority (MTA). He is a graduate of the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences (Eesti Riigikaitse Akadeemia).

According to a government press release, he speaks English, Russian and Finnish as foreign languages. But for the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions, his new role should involve foreign travel, as well as international communication.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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