Meri turns down Opmann for central bank

  • 2000-05-25
  • By Kairi Kurm
TALLINN - Estonian President Lennart Meri rejected Mart Opmann's
candidacy for president of Bank of Estonia, saying the deputy chairman
of the Coalition Party should improve his proficiency in foreign
language, according to news reports. The business daily Aripaev also reported that Meri advised the bank
council to find a politically independent candidate for the post.

The President referred to the need to find a candidate who could
efficiently represent the interests of the Bank of Estonia in the
European Central Bank Council, a spokesman of the office of the
President reported. With the accession of Estonia to the European
Economic and Monetary Union, the head of the central bank will
automatically become a member of the European Central Bank Council.

The council of the Bank of Estonia elected Opmann, 44, as governor of
the central bank on May 18. Opmann was finance minister for four years
from 1995 to 1999 and a member of the Coalition Party. Opmann said that
he would cut ties with the party as soon as he was appointed governor
of the Bank of Estonia and promised to improve his knowledge of

The board of the Bank of Estonia met with Meri on May 22 to discuss the
situation. The parties left the meeting without coming to an agreement
over the right candidate. The president asked the council of the
central bank to find a new candidate by June 19. The central bank's
supervisory council is considering an inquiry to the justice
chancellor, since the decision of the president had resulted in a
dispute related to political law.

A member of the supervisory body of the Bank of Estonia, Kalle
Jurgenson, who preferred another candidate to Opmann, suggested the
council to resign since it had not been able to find a good candidate
for the post of the governor of the central bank. The president said he
did not wish the council to resign.

It is the second time the central bank's council chose a wrong
candidate for the post of a new governor. The term of the former
central bank president expired on April 28. The first candidate for
the governor's post, statistics professor Vello Ven-sel, resigned
citing health problems some days after he was nominated for a five-year
term as the governor of the Bank of Estonia by Meri.