In July, then economy minister Urve Palo (Soc Dems) wrote her Lithuanian colleague hoping to alleviate a €2.5m claim against enterprise of Oleg Ossinovski, father of Soc Dems chairman Jevgeni Ossinovski. Whatever the motives, in context the picture looks pretty bad.
Many are the faults that can be found. Sure, a state institution desiring to stand for a native businessman is nothing to be deplored. Even so, a minister trying via foreign colleague to interfere in business between two enterprises feels rather foreign in our traditions as remainder of political powers exceeding what we would today approve. It is an embarrassment that by Lithuanian economy ministry Ms Palo had to be reminded that the approach was not acceptable. It tastes especially bad that the businessman in question was major donor to the party and father to its chairman.
Also: the letter being in Russian (English being the norm) makes one think its authors may rather be on Oleg Ossinovski’s payroll than employed by the ministry. A situation where a minister sends her colleague a letter smelling of a company office is rather unbefitting.
And, thirdly, it is difficult to dismiss the fact that the letter left no trace in economy ministry’s register. One thing politicians should know best: sooner or later, everything is unearthed and nothing attracts more attention than a lost trail. Sure it may have been human error the letter wasn’t documented. In the light of what we have here, however, the sloppy registering is not a mitigating circumstance but would rather make us ask about other letters possibly undocumented.
Who knows, perhaps this was just good intentions gone sour. But even then the questions now arisen may have been foreseen. This should go with being a politician: knowing that, not limited to being right, words and deeds must also look right.
In her words and deeds, Urve Palo has not thought twice too often. In 2014, her statement that Estonian Air will probably go bust «blessed» the airline with substantial ticket sales loss estimated at €65,000.
Think twice, as the saying goes – what will be the message of the context.
Cartoon: CLAIMS FROM LITHUANIA. «Be a man Ms Minister, help me push this back...»