Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas nominated Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, currently the Minister of the Environment, as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, replacing Urmas Paet, who will fill Estonia’s vacant seat in the European Parliament.
Pentus-Rosimannus now needs an approval from President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and the Parliament.
Paet, who served as Estonia’s foreign minister for almost 10 years, reversed his earlier refusal to take the post on Monday. Paet will replace Andrus Ansip, who became a European Commission vice president for the single digital market.
Pentus-Rosimannus, 38, is the vice-chairwoman of the Reform Party and has served as the Minister of Environment since 2011.
Pentus-Rosimannus studied piano in Tallinn Musical High School and in Tallinn’s Baccalaureate Private School (today’s University Nord), which she graduated from in 1995 with honors. In 2000, she graduated with a degree in public administration and European Union affairs from Tallinn University.
Pentus-Rosimannus became a member of the Estonian Parliament in 2007 and has gradually moved up in the Reform Party hierarchy since. Together with Taavi Rõivas and Kristen Michal, currently in charge of the Reform Party parliamentary group, Pentus-Rosimannus is among the most prominent members of a new generation Reform Party politicians.
Opposition Questions Pentus-Rosimannus’s Credentials
Juhan Parts (IRL), member of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told ERR in light of announcement of Keit Pentus-Rosimannus as the candidate for Minister of Foreign Affairs position, that he is surprised by how short the Reform Party’s bench to fill the vacant government seat actually was.
“I cannot recall a single opinion, idea or action by the new foreign minister designate that concerns foreign policy. This raises serious questions,” Parts told ERR.
He added that the Foreign Affairs Committee should soon meet with Pentus-Rosimannus for a proper hearing and discuss the topical foreign policy and security issues with her, as well as her long term goals.
“The worst that can happen now is for Estonia to lose a decision-making and leadership capacity in its diplomatic service,” warned the IRL’s prime minister candidate, adding that the parliament committee will do everything in its power to keep that from happening.
But Eiki Berg, a professor of international relations at the University of Tartu, does not agree with Parts’s opinion of Pentus-Rosimannus as an unexperienced in foreign policy. Berg pointed out that Pentus-Rosimannus was a councelor to Kristiina Ojuland when she was the minister of foreign affairs. He believes that the choice of Pentus-Rosimannus over Jaak Jõerüüt and Marina Kaljurand – another two names that were suggested for` the nomination – was carried by Reform Party’s wish to appoint ministers according to party’s political hierachy. Marina Kaljurand, for instance, is not affiliated to the Reform Party and as is generally the case, ministers are long-standing party members. Maris Lauri, the new Minister of Finance, is an exception to this rule, athough she also had to join the party in order to become a minister.
Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas also nominated Mati Raidma to run the Ministry of the Environment.