Center mulling replacing Economy Minister Taavi Aas
Information available to ERR suggests the Center Party is considering whether to replace Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center).
ERR's information suggests Center is planning to replace Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas. Leading members of the party suggested Aas has been invisible, even though there is no criticism of his work.
One reason for recalling Aas to the Riigikogu is apparently the aim of party leaders to oust Aas' alternate member Oudekki Loone. A high-ranking Center member told ERR that Loone's conduct on the backdrop of Russian aggression [in Ukraine] leaves no doubt she needs to be made to leave the parliament before May 9.
Candidates for the post of economy minister include Center whip Jaanus Karilaid.
Aas: One needs to be prepared to move on
Taavi Aas told ERR that every minister needs to be prepared to vacate their office.
"Different options have been discussed, while there hasn't been anything direct. It all depends on budget negotiations. I believe there are fields that need more support," Aas said.
Asked how his departure might be tied to budget talks, Aas said he is "not ready to comment."
The minister referred to the claim that moving Aas from the government to the Riigikogu serves the purpose of getting rid of Oudekki Loone as an "interesting speculation that should be put to heads of the Riigikogu."
ERR's information suggests Center's coalition partner Reform has been notified of processes.
Party leader: No such decision today
Center Party chairman Jüri Ratas shared the article by ERR's Estonian portal and said in the post that, "no such decision has been made by the board of the Center Party at this time."
"Taavi Aas has done good work in his field. He has pursued relevant energy topics to solve problems, looking at the next heating season, including ensuring Estonia has natural gas through preparations for an LNG terminal. While ministers are rotated from time to time, no such decision has been made by the board of the Center Party concerning the economy minister. Good luck, Taavi!" Ratas wrote.
Loone: I will not be quitting in the middle of my mandate
Oudekki Loone told ERR that Aas' potential replacement to force her to leave the Riigikogu is an "interesting rumor."
"I ran for the Riigikogu to represent my voters, and I will not be quitting in the middle of my mandate," the Center MP said.
She added that Taavi Aas has done good work as economy minister and his departure would be a loss both for the government and Center.
Loone said she has not yet decided whether to run for the Riigikogu again in 2023.
Center board to meet on Tuesday evening
Loone said that the extended board of the Center Party will meet on Tuesday evening to discuss, among other things, the approaching date of May 9.
"My first instinct on February 24 (when the war started - ed.) was not to go to the Bronze Soldier. But now, my voters feel that it is not the same war and people will go to remember their fallen relatives on May 9. The Estonian state should allow people to remember their past, family stories and holidays in peace."
Loone added that she does not understand seeing May 9 as a conflict. She said that visiting the Bronze Soldier monument became an event in 2007 as local Russians "wanted to feel they could celebrate their holiday in public" in addition to commemorating family history.
"We should commend this sentiment on the state and institutional level, not prohibit it," the MP said.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski