Minister: Hopefully new coalition will see fewer spats than its predecessor

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Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) on a previous ETV appearance. Source: ERR

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) says he hopes the new Reform-Center administration which was sworn in on Tuesday will be able to focus on concrete work and not have to spend time fending off disputes and scandals, as former prime minister Jüri Ratas (Center) had had to.

Appearing on ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" Tuesday evening, Kiik said: "Of course, I hope there will be fewer scandals and unnecessary disputes with this government, and that there will be more focus on content."

Kiik was a minister in the previous Center/EKRE/Isamaa coalition which collapsed following the resignation of Jüri Ratas on January 13. The alliance had seen plenty of clashes on social issues – Kiik was minister of social affairs in the last line-up – as well as verbal attacks on foreign allies and leaders, and on domestic civil servants, among others.

"In my opinion, Jüri Ratas as prime minister led the country very well for four years, but unfortunately he also had to deal with a lot of crises during the previous government that were not really needed," Kiik, who worked as an adviser to Ratas before his appointment as minister in April 2019, went on, noting that the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, budgetary negotiations and EU issues would require time, energy and resources.

Kiik would however not be drawn on his position on the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), often at the center of some of the sagas noted above, not being in office any more.

"I am glad that we have a strong government, we have a relatively well-apportioned areas of work within it, a strong coalition agreement, and two parties, ie the Center Party and the Reform Party, which represent a very large part of the Estonian electorate – I look at it like that," Kiik said.

Kiik: Cooperation with Signe Riisalo should be good

Kiik said he and his new colleague at the social affairs ministry will cooperate well together, noting Riisalo's experience in the field, having worked at the social affairs ministry since the mid-1990s, ahead of becoming an MP after the March 2019 election.

"[Riisalo] is a professional, determined and energetic person," he said.

Since the number of ministers, 14 (excluding the prime minister) remains the same, the dividing of Kiik's previous role into two was numerically balanced by the removal of the office of population affairs minister, itself a role which had been resurrected by the last administration, after having been discontinued over 10 years ago.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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