Director of the Estonian National Opera (Rahvusooper) Aivar Mäe has issued a statement in response to media allegations of workplace sexual harassment at the Estonia Theater in Tallinn, which appeared earlier this week.
Mäe issued his statement via news portal Delfi (link in Estonian) in which he said he regretted that many people found his actions and behavior inappropriate or offensive, and which he said were part and parcel of his jovial humor and character.
"I sincerely apologize to the people who have been negatively affected by this and who I have inadvertently hurt," Mäe said in the statement.
"There has never been anything deliberately malicious about my behavior. I have never wanted to humiliate anyone or make them feel unworthy. I apologize to the people who live with me, and who I have caused concern for in recent days."
"What happened this week has made me re-evaluate my surroundings and look deep within myself. I understand that going forward I have to control my natural joviality more than I had before, and evaluate and sense the feelings of my colleagues, friends and relatives around me more attentively than before. I will certainly do this."
An article which appeared on the website of investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress Monday morning alleged that Mäe, 60, had a long history of making inappropriate jokes and comments towards women working at the National Opera, which includes the National Ballet under its remit, and had engaged in inappropriate touching as well.
Arne Mikk, chair of the National Opera's council, which met to discuss the matter Monday, said that the opera house had its own traditions, such as hugging and presenting flowers to women staff members on International Women's Day, and these could be misinterpreted.
Editor: Andrew Whyte