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Ossinovski: I didn't enter politics for a lifetime salary

Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE).
Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE). Source: (Siim Lõvi /ERR)

Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE) said in an interview with business paper Äripäev that should the Social Democrats fail to get a good result in next year's Riigikogu elections, he will consider stepping down as chairman and making way for someone else.

Ossinovski described his job as minister of health and labor on business paper Äripäev's web radio on Monday, saying that part of it is a rather thankless task. "There are decisions that are unpopular in the short term, and the positive results of which become clear only in the long term," Ossinovski said.

"If the number of deaths caused by alcohol shrinks, you won't get a thanks for that," he added. He also said that in his position, what he is after is defending the public interest, and people's health, nothing less.

Talking about the recent renewal of hostilities between his own party and the other junior coalition partner, the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL), Ossinovski said that Finance Minister Toomas Tõniste (IRL) just like his predecessor has been trying to dodge any responsibility in the case by saying that when it all happened, he wasn't a member of the government.

"To go into hiding and to say that hey, I wasn't sitting at the table when these decisions were made, I wouldn't consider that very dignified," Ossinovski said. Fighting for the cause of national health isn't easy if on the other side, there are PR agencies and law firms who get paid hundreds of thousands of euros for their work, Ossinovski added.

Weighing the public interest against that of businesses, there can be no question what matters more, the minister said. Referring to the treatment he personally got by the media, and the current position of the Social Democrats, Ossinovski expressed his regret that plenty of people who were quite ready to compliment them for the work they do, and also those who initially carried the current excise and prevention policy, are suddenly nowhere to be seen once the mudslinging begins.

Asked about the topic of next year's Riigikogu elections, Ossinovski said that if his party should fail, he would consider giving up the chairmanship and leaving it to someone else. "I don't think that I'll still be in Estonian politics a decade from now. But today I don't have a plan B that I'm about to go for," he said. He didn't enter politics for a guaranteed lifetime salary, he added.

Like Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said in a recent interview, Ossinovski also believes that only five of the currently six parties in the Riigikogu will be left after the next elections, though he didn't offer any prediction which one will be left out.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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