Meri appoints legal chancellor

  • 2000-09-14
  • Jaclyn M. Sindrich
Choice proves unpopular with opposition parties

TALLINN - For three months, Estonia has gone without a permanent legal chancellor, but President Lennart Meri says he has found the right man at last. Priit Kama, deputy secretary general of the Ministry of Justice, accepted Meri's proposal on Sept. 8 to assume the high-level post.

Pending approval of Parliament, Kama will fill the post of Eerik-Juhan Truuvali, whose term as legal chancellor expired in mid-June.

Meri, after confirming his proposal of Rear Adm. Tarmo Kouts to the post of defense commander, discussed the appointment of Kama with all party faction leaders, as well as head of the constitutional committee, Liia Hanni, deputy chairman of the national defense committee, Tiit Tammsaar and Trivimi Velliste, at his Kadriorg office on Sept. 8.

Kouts' nomination is proving to be the less controversial of the two, as opposition members are not backing out of their view that the 28-year-old Kama is too inexperienced for the job, despite the president's attempt to convince them of the opposite.

The MPs did not state a final position, but said they will meet with Kama in the near future.

Under the Estonian constitution, the president nominates the legal chancellor for approval in Parliament.

Peeter Kreitzberg, a Center Party MP, maintained that since the legal chancellor must report directly to the president, the position's significant demands and pressure should require someone who is at least 40 years of age, the minimum age for a presidential candidate in Estonia.

Kreitzberg also expressed concern that Kama is a member of the ruling Pro Patria Union, and a legal chancellor should not have any partisan interests, he said. Kama joined the Christian Democratic Party, a predecessor of the Pro Patria Union, in 1989.

Meri's spokeswoman, Epp Alatalu, dismissed the opposition's claims, saying that Kama knows the legal system well and is fully qualified.

"He has been working for two years (in the Justice Ministry), lecturing in two institutes and he knows the system," she said. She also suggested the question of Kama's Pro Patria Union affiliation is blown out of proportion. "Only 5 percent of people living in Estonia belong to any party. His candidacy has nothing to do with the party. He was chosen because he is a clever young man."

Justice Ministry public relations officer Kristiina Herodes added that Kama has "not been very active" in the Pro Patria Union.

Sirje Kiin, Pro Patria Union spokeswoman, agreed that Kama has enough experience under his belt to become legal chancellor, noting that he has proven himself as an administrator and has written several law books.