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Center Party letter of guarantee matter could lead to extraordinary congress

Jüri Ratas and Kadri Simson during the 2016 presidential elections.
Jüri Ratas and Kadri Simson during the 2016 presidential elections. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

The Center Party's board of directors will convene again in two weeks, by which time their expert legal assessment regarding a 450,000-euro letter of guarantee discovered recently should be complete. According to Deputy Chairman Jaanus Karilaid, the party should start working toward an extraordinary congress.

Karilaid told ERR on Monday that the congress should take place before the end of this year and should confirm changes to party statutes as the party should not be allowed to take on such financial obligations without the board of directors' knowledge and such documents should not appear only two years after the fact.

"The leadership issue needs to be resolved soon,"said Karilaid, adding that it would also be beneficial if Edgar Savisaar had some competition for the position of party chairman in the form of Second Vice-President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas.

Ratas, who belongs to the Center Party Board of Directors, announced on his homepage that he would like to rebut Center Party Secretary General Oudekki Loone's claim implying that the granting of letters of guarantee was typical business for the Center Party.

"This an unprecedented situation regarding which clarity must be reached as soon as possible," said Ratas. "The regrettable given situation is a negative precedent in light of which it must be decided at a Center Party Congress how to specify board members' right of representation." Ratas himself could not attend the Center Party's meeting on Sunday as he was in Portugal at the time.

"How strongly Edgar Savisaar leads the party will depend upon how we cooperate in the future," said Karilaid, adding that he would solve the matter by strengthening the leadership of the party. "If it does not strengthen and we are unable to widen the circle of decision-makers, then we can consider different possible solutions. But today I see that cooperation is possible."

Chairman of the Center Party Parliamentary Group Kadri Simson told ERR on Monday that the party's board of directors recognized the need to make changes to the party statutes, but not the need to hold an extraordinary congress.

The Center Party formed a work group consisting of board member Taavi Aas, Secretary General Oudekki Loone, Executive Secretary Peeter Vistur and party advisor Andres Hiie for the investigation of a 450,000-euro letter of guarantee issued by former Secretary General Priit Toobal to Midfeld OÜ. An expert legal analysis of the issue was ordered from the Varul law office; the analysis should be completed by Sept. 19, at which the time Center Party's Board of Directors will reconvene.

"The expert analysis will provide a comprehensive overview regarding how to deal with these letters of guarantee and whether it is possible to cancel then," said Karilaid.

"The letter of guarantee, which has caused a lot of excitement in the media during the past few days, is nothing catastrophic for the Center Party as there have been attemps to claim," said Secretay General Oudekki Loone. "I am stressing that no warranty obligation has been incurred based upon this given letter of guarantee. We are currently discussing the matter with the individuals involved."

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

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