The Center Party has put forward Tallinn city government chair Tiit Terik as new culture minister, following Anneli Ott's resignation Tuesday. Terik would need to be approved by the president before entering office.
The party's leader, former prime minister, former Tallinn mayor and current Riigikogu speaker Jüri Ratas proposed Terik, whose name had already appeared in media reports on the topic earlier in the day.
The party's secretary general, Andre Hanimägi, said that Center was unanimously behind its leader's proposal to put up Terik, whose potential appointment comes a day after the resignation of Anneli Ott.
Terik said of the current situation that: "How we as a people behave in a crisis is also down to culture."
"As a people, we have committed ourselves to ensuring the preservation of the Estonian nation and culture through the ages - this is the main goal by which the minister of culture should be guided by in their daily work," he went on.
"The blanket of culture is also a 'security blanket' that must cover the whole of Estonia, both larger cities and smaller villages," Terik continud.
Terik said culture cannot be put on pause, but must be kept alive, even in difficult times.
Taking up the position at such a difficult time is both a great challenge and an opportunity to apply his existing experience at the government level, he went on. "I thank the party board for the trust. I am prepared for the fact that I will not have a long time to settle in, because in the current situation we have to react quickly and decisively."
"The area of government of the minister of culture is very diverse, encompassing creative activities, integration, traditional culture, heritage protection and sports. I promise to be a good partner for all parties and to create the best possible conditions for the field," he added.
Meanwhile, Ratas said that Terik's long-term management experience and ability to find common ground and see solutions speak in his favor.
Ratas said: "Tiit Terik has shown himself as a balanced and solution-seeking leader in various responsible positions. In cooperation with all parties, the new minister must find appropriate measures to ensure the strength and development of the field."
Terik is also board chair of the Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities (Eesti Linnade ja Valdade Liit), and said that addressing national issues such as Tartu's status as European Capital of Culture in 2024, in conjunction with local government, will draw on the experience and activity of Tallinn's stint as European culture capital back in 2011.
The prime minister is submitting a proposal to President Alar Karis to release Anneli Ott from office and appoint a new minister of culture.
In an emotional resignation speech broadcast from Center Party HQ and which at least one critic has said was penned for her by Center, Ott cited differences of opinion with the government on how to progress in combating the virus, in particular on the issue of vaccinations, though denied being and anti-vaxxer.
Hers is the first ministerial resignation since the current Reform/Center coalition entered office in late January.
When appointed to the post, Ott's perceived position as an outsider – she had been active in local politics in the southeastern town of Võru and was mayor of that town a number of years ago – was held to be a bonus by Center's spin machine.
Editor: Andrew Whyte