Foreign intelligence chief to lead State Forest Management Center

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Mikk Marran.
Mikk Marran. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The head of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service Mikk Marran has entered into negotiations to become the new chairman of the State Forest Management Center's board (RMK).

The state agency announced on Monday it will now begin contract negotiations with Marran which it hopes to conclude by the end of the week.

"Mikk Marran has long-term management experience. He is known as a leader and a good leader of people. I believe that coming from outside the forestry sector, Mikk will be able to understand and find solutions to society's expectations for forestry," explained RMK Council Chairman Randel Länts.

There were 18 initial applicants for the role, which were then whittled down to a top three, RMK said. The new manager will start on November 1.  

Marran has been director general of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service since 2016. He is currently in his second five-year term after being reapproved for the role in 2020.

Marran: "I noticed an interesting opportunity"

"I have been working effectively with my colleagues in the Foreign Intelligence Service for seven years. A couple of months ago, I spotted an interesting job advert that RMK was looking for a chairman of the board. In my opinion, RMK is an institution with a very big mission. It made me think and make a decision to apply. I was, somewhat surprisingly, chosen for the position on Friday," Marran told ERR on Monday.

He said there has never been an ideal time to switch intelligence chiefs in Estonia, due to Estonia's aggressive eastern neighbor and geopolitical location.

"There will not be an smooth moment for this because the security threats to Estonia will not disappear and national defense will remain a priority. The Foreign Intelligence Service has a big responsibility," said Marran.

"The change of head will be smooth, I want to guarantee that," he added, but said he was sure the service will continue to work very effectively without him. Marran said he was prepared to give security advice in the future, if necessary.

The intelligence chief suggested he can bring an outsider's view to his new role as he does not have any prior experience in the sector.

"Perhaps I can bring a neutral point of view, as I am also a big fan of the forest and nature, so I can give advice from an outside point of view and lead this very important institution forward," he said.

Marran did not give a specific answer on felling volumes, a subject of much-heated debate in Estonia.

"My general feeling is that the forest should not be cut down much more than it is now, but not much less than it is now either, because it may backfire on us in the future," he said.

Pevkur: New director general needed as soon as possible

Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) said he had accepted Marran's resignation on Monday.

He said Marran had done a good job and that the service had undergone significant development during his term.

"The importance of intelligence and early warning in the current security situation is critical. I thank Mikk for his contribution and commitment," Pevkur said.

The minister has already started the process of finding a new director as soon as possible.

"We do not have the luxury of leaving foreign intelligence without a leader for even one day, which is why the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service must get a new leader as soon as Mikk Marran's term ends," he said in a statement.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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