Tiit Riisalo: I actually had no plans to enter politics

Tiit Riisalo.
Tiit Riisalo. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

While incoming Minister of IT and the Economy Tiit Riisalo (Eesti 200) had no plans to enter politics, the party made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Riisalo did not win a Riigikogu mandate on March 5, which is no bar to becoming a minister.

Speaking to ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" Tuesday, Riisalo answered interviewer Grete Lõbu's question as to why he had not run in the elections, by saying: "I have in the past taken part in the elections and also campaigned, and I was IRL (now Isamaa-ed.) secretary general. I really had no further plans to enter politics, although I joined Eesti 200 as soon as I stepped down from Kadriorg."

Riisalo had headed up Kersti Kaljulaid's office, when she was president (2016-2021).

"I did help with [Eesti 200's] campaigning, yes. Not at the grass-roots level but rather with strategy and structure."

"However, I have had a very interesting and challenging job, first at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then at the Estonian Development Cooperation Center (Eesti Arengukoostöö Keskus), where our main focus is, of course, Ukraine," he went on.

"I would have gladly continued in this work, so the decision [to become a minister] did not come easily. But when you are called to take up a position like that, then it's very difficult to say no," he added.

"On the one hand, it gives me a great happiness to have the opportunity to contribute to the promotion of the common life of this country. On the other, there is the slight apprehension as to whether you will be able to live up to this responsibility."

"On the one hand, it is a great happiness to have the opportunity to contribute to the promotion of the common life of this country. On the other hand, it is a slight apprehension as to whether you will be able to justify this responsibility," added Riisalo.

Kristina Kallas, Eesti 200 deputy chair, told ERR last December that Riisalo had played a pivotal role in building up the structure of the Eesti 200 campaign team.

Riisalo told "Ringvaade" that the new coalition has a greater chance of doing some great things. "So as to be sustainable and not so burdensome for future generations," he added.

Lõbu also asked Riisalo what the Minister of IT and the Economy actually entails as a role. "I can't even say," he replied, initially.

"While the name of the ministry already has 'economy' in it, economic policy can be viewed both in a narrower sense or in a classical sense, in terms of fiscal policy. However, most of our policy also partly relates to business policy. It's somewhat like a collective effort to create maximally beneficial conditions for entrepreneurially-minded people. This is where the foundation of our economy and self-existence in general is laid," he went on.

He added that society must be provided with the IT tools needed to make the state more efficient.

"We still have a very strong field in IT, though it is viable to learn this tech even better, and more efficiently, as new technologies are coming. We would first try to look inside the state, as to whether everything we do is optimal, and maybe something will arise, which can be discarded. Once we have agreed on what we are going to do, we can then do it best in the world, via the help of IT," said Riisalo.

According to Riisalo, in addition to IT and economics, the ministry that he leads will also cover the labor sphere.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

Source: 'Ringvaade', Interviewer Grete Lõbu.

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