TALLINN - Secretary general of the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs Marika Priske said at the press conference on Monday that she accepts the decision by Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik and Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo to make a proposal to the government to recall Priske from her position.
Kiik said that the COVID-19 crisis has imposed immense expectations on heads of state as well as state officials.
"During this crisis, many good decisions as well as mistakes have been made -- globally, in Europe as well as in Estonia. We do not underestimate Priske's long term in office, which has seen all of these things. I, personally, want to underscore that enormous work has been done in the Ministry of Social Affairs," Kiik said.
"When faced with a global pandemic, it is very difficult to please everyone in a crisis, and disagreements are more likely to arise," the minister noted.
"The crisis has brought us to an understanding, however, that a difficult decision needs to be made. A new secretary general has to be found who will take a fresh look at the situation. Only time will tell if this will come to fruition. Making a fresh start is easier for someone new. It is difficult to say if the new secretary general will be better," he added.
The minister of social protection, Signe Riisalo, said that she has essentially been working together with Priske for seven tears.
"I want to thank her for the seven years that she has been contributing to this field. Every organization needs to change and evolve, however. The area of government of the Ministry of Social Affairs was not prepared for such an extensive crisis, but it has pointed out the bottlenecks," she said.
Riisalo noted that the crisis has led to a situation where a different gear or approach is needed in management and coordination -- one that is better suited for a time of crisis.
"New people with fresh ideas can provide that. It is not easy for a society to accept an 18-month crisis," she added.
Priske thanked the government ministers.
"I understand that this decision was not easy for the ministers. My long experience as secretary general has shown me that [the length thereof] makes one all the more vulnerable. The successes belong to my team and there have been many of them," she said.
"Seven years in the Ministry of Social Affairs and 1.5 years of the crisis have buffeted me as well. It is okay if a need for changes arises at some point, and top executives must accept it," Priske said.
The name of the new secretary general will be announced when the time is right, according to Kiik.
Priske has served as the ministry's secretary general from July 14, 2014.