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Ansip changes his mind about billion-euro pulp mill close to Tartu

The EU's commissioner for the digital single market, Andrus Ansip, who is also a former prime minister of Estonia as well as mayor of Tartu, has changed his opinion regarding the construction of Est-For's large new pulp mill close to his hometown. While he was making fun of protesters not long ago, he now sees "no reason" to consider the Tartu area at all.

Ansip's fellow Reform Party member, Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas, is already set to use opposition to the construction of the pulp mill in the campaign for next year's Riigikogu elections. Also, the party's last top-level statements in the matter are now several weeks old: then-chairman Hanno Pevkur stressed earlier this year that Klaas and his party section's point of view did not reflect that of the party overall.

Pevkur has since been replaced with Kaja Kallas, and it remains to be seen what the party's eventual attitude to the pulp mill will be.

Opposition to the project hasn't lessened in recent weeks. Now that both the city and the municipality of Tartu have officially approached the government to terminate the according planning proceedings, it seems that in the interest of the March 2019 elections the party might yet change its stance.

Ansip, in any case, reversed his earlier position in an interview with paper Maaleht published on Thursday. In it, the former prime minister said that whether or not such a large factory "fits in" at all needs to be made subject to further assessment.

There is really no reason to try and find out whether or not the pulp mill should be built close to Tartu, Ansip said: it shouldn't be built there, period.

Less than two months ago in March, Ansip said at a business conference that "Things have gone entirely in the wrong direction, but rationally we understand that processing wood would be a good idea."

"Let's look into it, make calculations, let's discuss it. The factory won't be built in Town Hall Square," Ansip said at the event.

By now, Ansip seems to have remembered the electorate and its own priorities: the rejection of the project by the people of Tartu are enough to drop the idea, he told Maaleht.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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