Estonia’s former center-right Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas announced he will resign as the national parliament’s second deputy president following sexual harassment allegations, local media reported.
Rõivas, who was Estonia’s prime minister from 2014 to 2016, issued a public apology Thursday evening after he was accused of sexual harassment during a visit with an Enterprise Estonia delegation to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia late September.
Newspaper Eesti Päevaleht reported a number of incidents at an evening event in which male members of the delegation behaved inappropriately towards women, including one reported groping and an incident in which a woman was pushed into a swimming pool. Rõivas was accused of “dancing too close” to one woman present.
He said the media reports made the incidents look worse that they were, but said he would take political responsibility.
“I don’t really know if this is enough to resign, but I think that beyond someone getting hurt, if this is turning into such a big scandal that it affects my colleagues then to me this resignation isn’t painful. I’m doing this to spare others,” he said.
A female witness to the incident told POLITICO that, while there are obvious hurt feelings, “calling it harassment is a pretty serious overkill.”
Rõivas told POLITICO “some people felt bad after those events. I am sincerely sorry.”
He added that he had “spoken to the woman who had complaints about my behavior, apologized to the woman, she accepted my apology.”