President appoints Tiit Terik new culture minister

President Alar Karis has appointed Tiit Terik (Center) as new Minister of Culture, replacing Anneli Ott (Center), who resigned on Tuesday.

The president said Wednesday evening that: "I thank Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Center Party chair Jüri Ratas for presenting Estonia's new Minister of Culture so quickly. We do not have any spare days. The health crisis has hit the culture sector hard, and it needs a strong advocate in government.

"I spoke this afternoon with Tiit Terik, who stated that he would stand up for the interests of the cultural field, with all his experience," Karis, who prior to becoming president was director of the Estonian National Museum in Tartu, continued.

"For my part, the internal confidence and ability of the government is important, and is especially important in this time of crisis," the president went on.

Center leader Jüri Ratas proposed Terik, who up until that point had been Tallinn city government chair, earlier on Wednesday, and the party's board approved his candidacy unanimously.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) then presented Terik to the president, at Kadriorg, seat of the head of state.

Writing on her social media account Wednesday evening, the prime minister stated that: "I went this evening to Kadriorg to present Tiit Terik as the nominee for new culture minister to President Alar Karis."

"The president immediately signed his name to the decision. Terik will officially take on the role of culture minister on Monday, when he will take the oath of office before the Riigikogu," Kallas went on.

"I hope that the new minister can quickly settle into the role. It is important for the entre government that the culture sphere is represented on a daily basis in every day work, and at cabinet level, as substantively and as effectively as possible. Welcome on board and all strength to you at work, Tiit."

Terik said that right now is a tough time to join the cabinet, as culture has been hit hard in the crisis.

As to the position, Terik said that: "A minister gets their main core task from our constitution: The preservation of language and culture through the ages. If a nation does not have a culture, then that nation probably does not have a future."

"Culture cannot be put on pause. A stalled and stagnant culture will not develop, and instead will disappear," he went on, adding that culture could not be divided up in Estonia – which only one cultural policy would suit.

Social guarantees to freelance cultural figures was one concrete priority he mentioned, adding that concrete decisions are expected when difficult budgetary decisions are on the horizon, as is the case now.

At the same time, culture is primarily there to be enjoyed, he went on, and said while he had had little time to read lately, with the recent local government elections in which he was active, he had been to the theater three times in the past fortnight.

Jüri Ratas said of Terik that: "In today's pandemic crisis, strong management experience from a member of the government, as a member of the team, is needed to bring the cultural sector through the pandemic. The cultural sector is very important, but it is also very broad and requires a minister with managerial experience."

Of the latter, Terik's dual role as long term board chair of the Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities (Eesti Linnade ja Valdade Liit) in addition to his work as Tallinn city government chair was key, Ratas added.

Terik is due to take his oath of office, in accordance with protocol, at the next regular Riigikogu sitting, on Monday, November 8.

Terik's predecessor, Anneli Ott, announced her resignation Tuesday. Ott had been facing pressure both over charges she had not been vaccinated – meaning she would not have been able to have attended most of the cultural events under her ministerial portfolio, though she did manage a trip to the Cannes film festival in summer – and over reports of clashes with culture workers' representatives.

The official reason given in her resignation speech was a difference of opinion with the governmental line on the handling of the coronavirus crisis as it relates to the culture sector, including the requirement to prove vaccination to enter events.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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