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Four new ministers sworn in

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Left to right: Toomas Tõniste, Jüri Luik, Siim Kiisler, Jaak Aab, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.
Left to right: Toomas Tõniste, Jüri Luik, Siim Kiisler, Jaak Aab, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas. Source: (Vabariigi kantselei)

President Kersti Kaljulaid appointed the three new ministers of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) on Monday. As a consequence of the election to party chairman of Helir-Valdor Seeder, defense minister and former party chairman Margus Tsahkna as well as Minister of Finance Sven Sester and Minister of the Environment Marko Pomerants had to go. They were sworn in on Monday along with Jaak Aab (Center), who is replacing Mihhail Korb as minister of public administration.

Two of the IRL appointees have served as ministers before. Jüri Luik, about to take over as defense minister, was part of several governments in the 1990s, running the defense as well as the foreign ministry at the time. Siim Kiisler, last in government in 2014 as minister of regional affairs, will now take over the Ministry of the Environment.

Toomas Tõniste, who will take over as minister of finance following in Sven Sester's shoes, has no prior government experience. Tõniste was a member of the Riigikogu between 2007 and 2015 and more recently took part in local politics. He is an entrepreneur and former Olympic yachtsman. From 1992 to 2007 Tõniste was the financial director of food, drinks, and cosmetics distributor LTT.

Tõniste has faced criticism from the start, on one hand triggered by a statement of his saying that instead of his predecessor Sven Sester's „experiments“, he'd propose to raise value-added tax (VAT in Estonia is 20 percent), and on the other by the fact that as what some call a complete beginner in executive politics he will have to run meetings of European Union finance ministers during Estonia's upcoming presidency, as well as follow Sester in the Eurogroup.

Jaak Aab sworn in as minister of public administration

The three new IRL ministers were sworn in on Monday afternoon, along with the Center Party's Jaak Aab, who also gave his oath of office today.

Aab was appointed by the prime minister's party after his predecessor as minister of public administration, Mihhail Korb, had to resign following unrest in the coalition caused by a statement he gave to Red Army veterans, saying that he didn't agree with Estonia's NATO membership.

Leading up to his appointment, Aab worked as the Center Party's secretary general. He is a former member of the Riigikogu and minister of social affairs (2005-2007). Aab has also been mayor of Võhma and chairman of the Union of Estonian Cities and has worked as an advisor to local governments in Finland in the past.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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