SDE MP: Liisa Pakosta saga representative of 'dishonest' pattern
Problems with the outgoing head of the state heritage protection body stretch back to her appointment to her previous post several years ago, that of gender equality commissioner, which was conducted 'dishonestly', Social Democrat MP Jevgeni Ossinovski says.
Ossinovski, who was Minister for Social Protection while Liisa Pakosta was commissioner for gender equality, which was the result of: "Dishonest political intervention," Ossinovski said Wednesday.
"She was not one of the stronger candidates for the position, and [Minister of Social Protection at the time Pakosta was appointed, in 2015] Margus Tsahkna, using his ministerial powers, distorted proceedings so that Pakosta could be appointed. The subsequent actions of Pakosta have been part of this pattern," Ossinovski went on.
Tsahkna was at the time an Isamaa member, and is now a member of Eesti 200. Pakosta had previously been an MP with Isamaa's forerunner party.
Ossinvoski went on to say that information also reached the ministry that financial matters were not always in order at commissioner Pakosta's office. "However, since it is by law an independent institution, the equality commissioner and her office enjoyed independent use of state budget funds. Pakosta herself must say whether everything was done correctly or not," Ossinovski continued.
Certain "human relations issues" also emerged, he noted. "These were based on the fact that the gender equality and equal treatment experts' view of what the commissioner should do did not always coincide with Liisa Pakosta's view of her work. To be honest, she still dealt with a lot of things that are not compatible with gender equality and equal treatment. She dealt with the topics that interested him more," Ossinovski said, noting that Pakosta, when an MP, had voted against the planned cohabitation act which would have granted same-sex couples equal status with those of opposite-sex pairings.
Ultimately, Pakosta was "overwhelmingly unsuitable" for the post, Ossinovski said, adding that he clashed between former minister Tsahkna over the issue of who should appoint the minister – which Ossinovski said was a matter for the whole government and not just IRL – Isamaa's former name (the coalition at the time consisted of Reform, IRL and SDE – ed.).
"If you look at the media excerpts at the time, there was a controversy between me and Margus Tsahkna. My proposal was that the gender equality commissioner could be confirmed by the government, not the minister, in order to exclude party bias. It was clear there that the chairman of Isamaa, the then IRL, put his instead of a party colleague.
Tsahkna at the time rejected the claim that Pakosta's appointment had been political, while Secretary General at the Social Affairs Ministry at the time, Marike Priske, said at the time that the competitive process which led to Pakosta's appointment had been organized in accordance with administrative best practices and all established regulations.
Pakosta was gender equality commissioner from 2015 to summer 2022 when she was appointed chief of the Heritage Protection Board (Muinsuskaitseamet).
Reports earlier this week that she had used public funds for accommodation and other purposes while on work trips were followed by her resignation from the post, which she leaves mid-month.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte