Journalists: Aab and Ott should do well in their new ministerial roles

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Aivar Hundmägi (left) and Sulev Vedler on Saturday's "Rahva teentrid".su Source: ERR/ Villem Rootalu

Estonia's newest two ministerial appointments, Jaak Aab and Anneli Ott, are likely to do well in their posts, leading journalists from the private and public sectors appearing on Saturday's edition of Vikerraadio show "Rahva teenrid" thought.

In Aab's case, the move is a sideways one having already occupied a ministerial post several times in the past, making him something of a man for all seasons, Sulev Vedler, of investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress, thought.

Vedler said: "IT seems that Jaak Aab is something of an übermensch. He is a minister for the fourth time Now: He has been the Minister of Social Affairs, Minister of Public Administration twice (the second term segueing into Aab's new role – ed.) and now the Minister of Education and Research, as well as the party's secretary general. He is a very capable figure."

Aivar Hundimägi, from business daily Äripäev, called both Aab's appointment, following the resignation of Mailis Reps at the end of last week after media reports said she had systematically used a ministry car for non-ministry purposes, and that of Aab's successor, Anneli Ott, promoted from the bench of MPs, reasonable moves.

Ott's resume suggests she would be capable of working in the public administration ministerial role, Hundimägi thought.

Nonetheless, Hundimägi thought, Aab did not do much more than relocate or remove some Tallinn state agencies (the public administration minister is largely responsible for regional policy – ed.), and Mailis Reps had also been caught napping over summer rather than preparing schools for the second coronavirus wave which came in Autumn.

ERR's Mirko Ojakivi said that a greater reshuffle could have been on the cards at the beginning of the week, with social affairs minister Tanel Kiik being moved to the education ministry to replace Reps, Jaak Aab replacing Kiik and Anneli Ott still becoming public affairs minister.

This might have been seen as too disruptive, however, Ojakivi thought, given that Kiik's current role is at the epicenter of the crisis which has dominated the news through most of 2020.

"Considering this health crisis, it was probably included that it would be too much to replace three ministers at the same time," he said, though Sulev Vedler opined that making Aab social affairs minister might have helped smooth over rather fractious relations between Center, at least in the personhood of Kiik, and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE)

The trio also talked about the coronavirus situation, with Ojakivi and Vedler agreeing that stricter restrictions were likely on the way – which, Ojakivi thought, meant that the discussion about restrictions on personal freedoms might need to take a back-seat – though, as Hundmägi noted, people were starting to take seriously anyway given the increased visibility of masks in public, albeit somewhat belatedly since these practices might have been better implemented during the summer lull, he thought.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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