Outgoing director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (Välisluuramet) has been confirmed new head of the state forestry commission, the RMK. Marran's appointment met with speculation as to why he was making what appears to be an unusual career move, at a time when he still had several years of his second term as Foreign Intelligence Service director still to run.
Mikk Marran starts work as director of the RMK on November 1 on a five-year term, one day after current incumbent Aigar Kallas' term ends.
Heads of state bodies are generally eligible to two consecutive terms, if so elected.
RMK board chair Randel Länts said of the appointment that: "Expectations have arisen in society: The forestry debate, the green revolution, attention being paid to climate and nature conservation."
"As a result, the RMK also has to change its outlook. And to carry out these new expectations, we considered Marran's candidacy and his understanding of how to implement such developments, to be the best [of the potential candidates.]"
Human resources firm Fontes picked a shortlist of three people who were in its view strongest of 18 candidates, including Marran, while the RMK's board chose the latter.
The current board composition also expires on November 1, meaning Marran will have to select a replacement board also.
Marran's name was first linked with the job in mid-August, and his potential appointment was discussed at board level last week, with no decision made though, Länts said, the board was unanimous on his suitability.
Of his surprising career turn, from chief of foreign intelligence to head of the forestry commission, Marran said that he spotted the job ad some months ago and found the RMK to be presenting an ambitious mission to its leader, which ultimately prompted him to apply.
"To my surprise, I was chosen for this position," he added.
News of the potential appointment was followed by speculation that he had been sidelined – Marran still had several years of his second, five-year term as foreign intelligence chief to run – while an opinion piece penned by former, long-serving Ministry of Defense Deputy Secretary-General Meelis Oidsalu claimed that top civil service appointments in Estonia are doled out among a closed, inner circle – a claim which the ministry's current secretary-general, Kusti Salm, rejected.
Marran's candidacy must be approved by the defense minister, who will first hear the opinion of the Riigikogu's Security Authorities Surveillance Select Committee.
The defense minister, Hanno Pevkur (Reform), had said that the Foreign Intelligence Service cannot be left without a director even for one day, meaning as soon as Marran's term there ends – ie. October 31, as things stand – a new director must be appointed.
Editor: Andrew Whyte