Public administration minister: Good thing I am from far corner of Estonia

European Union Affairs Committee chairwoman Anneli Ott (Centre).
European Union Affairs Committee chairwoman Anneli Ott (Centre). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Likely the next minister of public administration, Center Party MP Anneli Ott told ERR in an interview on Tuesday that she considers her greatest strength to be her experience working in regional politics.

After Mailis Reps' resignation as Minister of Education and Research last Friday, the search for the next candidate for education minister began. Today, Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center) was proposed for the role and his position will likely be filled by the head of the Riigikogu' European Affairs Committe Anneli Ott.

Vikerraadio's Indrek Kiisler previously spoke with Ott on Monday in an unpublished interview in which she said she did not know who would become the new education minister.

Kiisler caught up with Ott again on Tuesday, after the announcement was made by Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center).

Kiisler: I asked you about this on Monday. Today you can confirm that you are a ministerial candidate, but you could not do so yesterday...

Ott: Yes, precisely.

Did you know at the time when I called you?

I did not yet [know].

How did this happen so unexpectedly then?

We had a short conversation with the prime minister on Monday about a possible nomination.

What will you do as public administration minister in comparison to Jaak Aab?

First, I will have to settle in and then take a look. But I think the Center Party line has been very positive when it comes to local governments and I think that should be continued. Jaak has certainly done a great job in the position. I believe we will proceed.

One of the complicated areas of Aab's responsibility is the procurement of coronavirus protective equipment. It is a great responsibility. How good of a external communicator are you?

I cannot comment on specific things just yet. Let's not rush. We have not had a board meeting yet and decisions have not yet been made. I think we must first make these decisions and then delve deeper into the subjects.

Since readers nationwide do not know you very well, you are from Võru and have not been in Riigikogu for too long. What do you consider to be your strength?

I am in the Riigikogu for a second term now and have been in politics since 2002. I have experience on the local government level. So I think it is not a unfamiliar field and what is important to me is that the public administration minister would be from a far corner of Estonia and not from Tallinn. Perhaps the understanding of how life is in municipalities - in smaller centers - is better.

Who will replace you (in Riigikogu - ed.)?

I believe that to be Andrei Korobeinik.

Anneli Ott at the opening session of the 14th Riigikogu composition. Source: Erik Peinar / Riigikogu

Who is Anneli Ott?

One might say that Ott is from a dynasty of politicians - her father was Mayor of Võru and her uncle was the former city center elder of Tallinn.

The 44-year politician began her political career in 2005, after she was voted into the local municipality government council of Lasva, Võru County. Four years later, she was voted into the city council of Võru as member of the Social Democratic Party. In the fall of 2009, she was elected the Mayor of Võru, holding the position until a vote of no confidence in the spring of 2010.

In April 2011, she left the Social Democrats and joined the Center Party the same day. She worked as the deputy elder of Nõmme district in Tallinn from 2011-2014.

Ott was a Riigikogu candidate in Võru, Valga and Põlva in 2015 and received 1,119 votes. While not being elected directly to Riigikogu, she did end up joining in November 2015 after Priit Toobal was accused of instigating unauthorized surveillance.

She ran in the same regions in the 2019 elections and received 1,474 votes, directly continuing her position in the Riigikogu. She is currently the head of the Riigikogu's European Union Affairs Committee and is also a member of the National Defense Committee.

Father and uncle were in politics

Anneli Ott's father Jaak Ott was Mayor of Võru until his death on the MS Estonia in 1994. Anneli's uncle Jüri Ott held down the position of Tallinn city center elder for a long time.

She studied in Parksepa School in Võru County and graduated in 1994. She received her bachelor's education at the University of Tartu in Exercise and Sport Sciences in 1999 and added a teaching minor in 2000.

Ott notes reading, sports, travel and a sustainable lifestyle as her interests. She is also a board member of the Estonian Volleyball Association.

Ott is divorced and has a daughter and a son.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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