Estonian Minister of Regional and Rural Affairs Madis Kallas (SDE) said, that he will discuss the issue of special government representative for Ida-Viru County with local leaders in the region in order to decide on the best model. According to Kallas, the possibility of sending a representative from Ida-Viru County to Tallinn has also not been ruled out.
In the Estonian government coalition agreement, the appointment of a government representative for Ida-Viru County is at the top of the agenda in the section on regional policy and rural affairs. When does the government plan to appoint this representative and how will this person be identified?
Discussions are still ongoing. My wish is certainly not to rush it.
It was the desire of the coalition partners, including the Social Democratic Party (SDE), that we need to look at how the municipalities and businesses of Ida-Viru County could be better represented in the government and vice versa. So, how the government could be better represented in Ida-Viru County through the Ministry of Regional Affairs.
To this end, I have several more meetings coming up. The most important of these is certainly a meeting with the heads of local governments in Ida-Viru County. And after that, we will review how and how to proceed. I certainly don't want to rush it.
Will this special representative set up an office somewhere in Ida-Viru County, for example in Narva, and then start communicating with local politicians and businesses there? Then, in the meantime go to Tallinn to report back and receive new guidelines? Will it work something like that?
It depends on what the local government representatives say. If we, here in Tallinn, see that perhaps more of our people are needed there, then there have actually been signals, that the Ida-Viru County side feels having their own representative in Tallinn would also be a possible option. That is why I have said that I will meet them and then we will discuss what the best model is.
But certainly, this person is going to be very much there on the ground (in Ida-Viru County – ed.) In what form and in what structure, those discussions are still to come.
And discussions will also then be forthcoming regarding what the specific tasks of this representative will be there?
Exactly. I hope that in the future, neither the Ministry nor Minister of Regional and Rural Affairs will make decisions without involving the regions that are directly affected by them. Together, we will come up with the best possible model for the kind of support and kind of presence that is expected from Tallinn, both here and there. That way, we can still implement the objectives that we want to achieve, in order to resolve the concerns and make the best possible use of the money from the EU's Just Transition Fund.
Do you know whether this will be a completely new post or whether there is also the possibility that an official in a public office somewhere will simply take on additional responsibilities?
I would prefer rule out the second option, if only because it would mean that we would still not reach a new level.
But let's look at it, if the tasks are known and these tasks very much overlap with those of a representative of a public authority, then certainly this is a point for discussion. However, I think it is rather unlikely. I think it is more likely to be somebody in a newer role, or a very much newer role, if it were to be somebody who is already dealing with, Ida-Viru County matters for example.
From which political party did the initiative to create a special representative for Ida-Viru County come in the first place? With that particular title "special representative."
Unfortunately, I do not know the precise answer as to how this came onto the table. What I do know is that the issue of Ida-Viru County was extremely important to all the partners sat around the table. The common view was, that it needs to be strengthened.
However, I do not have an answer as to who proposed it in that form. Certainly, it has always been a very important area for the Social Democratic Party and we would very much like to be able to contribute more to this.
Editor: Michael Cole