Tallink CEO: Actions of the finance minister prompted me to leave Reform

Paavo Nõgene, CEO of Tallink, appearing on Wednesday's edition of 'Otse uudistemajast.
Paavo Nõgene, CEO of Tallink, appearing on Wednesday's edition of 'Otse uudistemajast." Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The head of Estonian shipping line Tallink has shed further light on his decision to quit the Reform Party last month after nearly a quarter-of-a-century as a member. While Nõgene left shortly before the current controversy affecting Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, it was the actions of the finance minister, Mart Võrklaev, which had proved the final straw for him.

Appearing on Wednesday's "Otse ujustemajast" broadcast, Paavo Nõgene, Tallink Group CEO and a former long-term Reform Party member said: "I was a member of the Reform Party for 22 years, and I had really pondered this idea before, that perhaps it was time to leave."

"However, at some point you eventually decide that enough is enough, and have to think about whether you want to be legally associated with this party or this political field. This is certainly in part a question of political culture, but the fatal blow was given by how the president of the republic had treated, because this simply was not a pretty sight," Nõgene went on.

Nõgene announced his resignation from the party midway through last month.

He said Wednesday that where the head of state, or for that matter the prime minister, foreign or defense ministers might fly to during a conflict situation was not "my, your or Mr. Võrlaev's business, nor is it anyone else's."

Nõgene went as far as calling such attitudes "country mindedness."

As for the current controversy affecting the Reform Party, namely the business interests of the husband of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Nõgene recommended resignation simply for her own good as well as for that of the whole of Estonia.

While her record up until the current saga and particularly since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine had been "excellent" in Nõgene's estimation, but the moral high ground she had taken in calls for a tough line on Russia and including with regard to business had led to her credibility being shattered in the wake of revelations that her husband had been involved in a profitable firm which had continued to do the very thing she was calling for others to stop doing.

Earlier in summer, controversy had arisen over the likelihood of top-up funds being provided for the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, ostensibly due to soaring inflation and some unexpected additional expenses arising. The president's office obtains an annual grant as part of the state budget for that year.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mari Peegel

Source: 'Otse uudistemajast,' interviewer Indrek Kiisler.

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