Ambassador to replace outgoing defense minister

  • 2004-11-17
  • By Aleksei Gunter
TALLINN - The Reform Party nominated Jaak Joeruut, Estonia's ambassador to the United Nations, to fill the position of defense minister following Margus Hanson's resignation last week over losing classified documents.

"Jaak Joeruut is an expert on foreign affairs and security matters. He has also proved to be an effective manager," said Reform Party Vice Chairman and Minister of Communications and Economic Affairs Andrus Ansip.

The Reformists' coalition partners, Res Publica and the People's Union, have expressed their approval regarding Joeruut, who has yet to visit Estonia from the United States to further discuss his potential new job.

It is up to President Arnold Ruutel to approve or reject ministerial candidates.

Fifty-six-year-old Joeruut was one of the founders of the Liberal Democratic Party, which later transformed into the Reform Party. Yet today Joeruut is not affiliated with any party and will have to join the ranks of the Reformists in order to occupy the post.

Joeruut's CV is more than impressive. In addition to being the author of 12 poetry and fiction books, he is a professionally trained economist. He worked as the deputy minister of culture of the Estonian SSR from 1989 to 1990. From 1990 to 1992 Joeruut was a deputy in the republic's Parliament, and from 1992 to 2004 he served as the Estonian ambassador to Finland, Italy, Malta and Cyprus. He has been ambassador to the United Nation since July 2004.

The Reform Party previously considered MP Jurgen Ligi as Hanson's replacement.

Defense Minister Hanson announced his resignation Nov.10 after his briefcase, which contained confidential documents, was stolen from his house in Tartu.

Hanson, however, was not supposed to take the mid-level confidential documents home. As a result, he may have to pay a fine or serve jail time of up to one year. The security police are currently investigating the case.