Jaak Aab picked for new Minister of Public Administration ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

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Center Party secretary general Jaak Aab.
Center Party secretary general Jaak Aab. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR)

Secretary General of the coalition Center Party Jaak Aab has been picked to replace Mihhail Korb as Minister of Public Administration following the latter's resignation last Wednesday.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas told ERR that he will submit Aab's nomination to the position to President Kersti Kaljulaid, who is to formally appoint Korb's replacement.

Ratas said that Aab knows the Minister of Public Administration's field of work inside out, adding that he was first and foremost an expert and only thereafter a politician.

Aab said that Korb has done fine work as minister. "I hope I am capable of taking the baton and resolving the difficulties ahead," he said. "There are decisions which must be made quickly."

Ratas noted that the Center Party will surely find a suitable person to replace Aab as the party's secretary general.

Korb's resignation

Following a meeting with Ratas last Wednesday, Korb announced that he had resigned as Minister of Public Affairs due to the scandal that erupted earlier that day following a comment he had made the previous night indicating his lack of support for Estonia's NATO membership.

Regional paper Lääne Elu reported on Wednesday, May 24 that Korb had told veterans at a meeting in Haapsalu on Tuesday that he was not in favor of NATO membership.

"I... might say a phrase that is disagreeable from the Estonian perspective — I am not in favor of NATO membership," said Korb. "I like Finland's policy on this matter. But to build your own army, that will get even more expensive. Do you understand? The Finns are building their own army; they are separate from NATO and are handling the protection of their country themselves. But nobody will come to their rescue."

In a press release issued by the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday, Korb apologized and announced that he supported the fundamental principles of Estonia's security policy, however a number of other ministers and opposition politicians made public statements on Wednesday afternoon calling for Korb to step down.

"I wish for the coalition to continue," Korb stated following his resignation that evening. "I believe that today's coalition is a guarantee for Estonia's good future and I do not want to create obstacles in the work of this coalition, as it has accomplished a great deal during the past half a year and great things are yet to come."

Korb stressed that Estonia must belong to NATO and the EU. "I created confusion with my [anti-NATO] statement, which I should not have been allowed to do," he explained. "A minister may not express themselves so unclearly."

Korb to become MP

According to election results, Center Party parliamentary group member Marko Šorin must give up his seat to Korb, who will now return to the Riigikogu. Korb earned 1904 votes in the 2015 Riigikogu elections.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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