Tallinn 2011 council member resigns in protest

Saks said the found herself at loggerheads with Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar about how the Tallinn 2011 Foundation should be managed. Photo by the Social Democratic Party.

TALLINN — The troubles with Tallinn European Capital of Culture project continues, now the foundation’s administrative council member Katrin Saks resigned from her position amid acrimony about political control over the project.

Saks, a Social Democrat and Tallinn alderman, said her resignation was prompted by the lack of support for her proposal to add another person to the one-person “management board” in order to improve the foundation’s leadership, which has been under scrutiny as problems with exorbitant salaries, a lack of communication with Brussels on important funding issues and infighting on the foundation council has arisen.

Saks suggested that Jaanus Rohumaa, who is unaffiliated with any  who is so far responsible for program department, should also be part of the board.

“As someone politically independent and familiar with the culture capital’s everyday work, Rohumaa could have contributed to the improvement of the foundation’s work environment and the public reputation of the project,” Saks told the via a Social Democratic party spokesperson.

Saks was disappointed that most of the council members do not support to increase the number of board members while the foundation’s reputation is under question. She added that the decision to resign is derived from personal principles and she is not willing to “sit and watch how the project is being run from the party’s office.”

Saks was referring to the office of the Center Party, headed by Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar who also has a seat on the foundation council.

In a press released issued in response, Savisaar argued that “the foundation has so far been run not-politically,” and he is “sorry that confusion is dropped around the foundation.”

The mayor insisted that no one is forcibly held in the foundation’s council and if Saks wishes to leave then her request will be granted.

The foundation’s management board currently only has one member, Jaanus Mutli, who replaced Mikko Fritze after his resignation earlier in the summer. The Ministry of Culture was also interested in increasing the number of board members. The ministry sent a letter to Tallinn City Hall in August 11 suggesting that the board should have more members.

However Savisaar insisted that, “the board was planned with one member since the beginning and the council did not find it necessary to increase it.”

Tallinn’s 2011 designation is the first time Estonia has hosted the European Capital of Culture and only the second time in the Baltic states. In past interviews Foundation Tallinn 2011 officials have told Baltic Reports that they hope the Estonian Capital of Culture experience will be better than Vilnius’ troubled 2009 designation, which saw large-scale corruption and embezzlement scandals and brought less tourists to the Lithuanian capital than came in 2008.

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