Margus Tsahkna announces running as Eesti 200 leader

Margus Tsahkna (middle) with Mart Võrklaev, and Kaja Kallas at the Riigikogu.
Margus Tsahkna (middle) with Mart Võrklaev, and Kaja Kallas at the Riigikogu. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna has thrown his hat into the ring for the leadership of coalition party Eesti 200.

Tsahkna, a party board member, issued a statement Friday morning that: "I have announced to Eesti 200 members that I am running for the position of party chair."

"The decision was made following numerous conversations with members of the party, the party's board, the Riigikogu group and government members," he added.

Tsahkna is one of three Eesti 200 ministers, along with former leader Kristina Kallas (education) and Tiit Riisalo (IT and foreign trade).

Current leader Lauri Hussar announced earlier this week he would be stepping down as leader after a little over a year in that post, in order to concentrate more on his role as Riigikogu speaker.

Tsahkna listed the challenges facing Eesti 200 as a smaller coalition partner to the Reform Party.

"The economy is still shrinking, and business requires a clear economic policy plan. We need to find additional funds for education, to ensure that we have teachers in the future also. Vital energy decisions must get made, which would provide us environmentally friendly and innovative solutions for subsequent generations. Estonia must become significantly more prominent internationally, so that the headquarters of global companies can find their way here."

As for the current situation, Tsahkna said: "Since the political situation is becoming tenser, it is my desire to apply my experience as a politician and businessperson to the management of the party, in order to emerge stronger from these difficult times. We have a strong team in the form of both politicians and staff, and great potential within the ranks of the party, a potential which, however, has yet to be fully implemented across the board."

Tsahkna said he had in recent days talked through the situation with Lauri Hussar, Kristina Kallas and MP Hendrik Terras, who ran at the last leadership contest, and thanked Hussar for his outgoing contribution, not least given its strong electoral performance in March – the party, founded in 2018, won 14 seats and entered office whereas it had not been represented at the Riigikogu up to that point.

"Lauri's decision is understandable, because as you read in the news today, the Riigikogu is facing some very tense times," Tsahkna added.

Margus Tsahkna, 46, joined Eesti 200 early on, in November 2018.

His political resume includes stints 2015-2017 as minister of defense and minister of social protection and, from 2015-2017, he was chair of IRL, now Isamaa, of which he was a member 2000-2017.

On leaving IRL/Isamaa in June 2017, he noted that he had already decided to do so the previous year after his attempts to modernize the party's platform ("Isamaa 2.0") had been voted down by party members.

He became foreign minister in the current administration when it entered office in April.

Tsahkna ran in the March Riigikogu election, polling at 2,922 votes in the Tallinn Mustamäe and Nõmme district, making him the seventh-most voted for Eesti 200 candidate. Kristina Kallas polled at 4,288 in her electoral district; Lauri Hussar at 3,343 votes.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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