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Area (


ethnic groups

Estonians 63.9%
Russians 29%
Ukrainians 2.7%



Arnold Rüütel


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After centuries of Swedish and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in 1918. Forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1940, it regained its freedom in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since the last Russian troops left in 1994, Estonia has been free to promote economic and political ties with Western Europe.

Update No: 259 - (25/07/02)

Russia becomes more understanding
A fundamental breakthrough has occurred in Estonian-Russian relations. Putin has expressed an unusually broad-minded view for a Russian president. He has said that he respects Estonia's choice to enter NATO.
The mark of civilisation is to respect someone else's point of view. To attempt to see the world from the other's perspective is the hallmark of rational discourse, which need not preclude disagreement, indeed invites a fruitful development of the same.
Putin is a realist and a well-informed man. He knows that Estonia is inexorably being drawn to the West. It is better to acknowledge this gracefully than to be a curmudgeon, constantly grumbling against the inevitable. He has showed this in Russia's policy towards Central Asia and the Caucasus. Now this is on display on the Baltic shore.

The EU beckons
It is not just NATO, but the EU that beckons. The EBRD chairman, Jean Lemierre, has described Estonia as the top candidate for EU membership. The EU is the natural home for the Estonians, a Protestant people with strong links to Scandinavia, linguistic, cultural and geographical; it is simply a few miles across the Gulf of Finland after all.
There are problems on farm quotas and other matters. But Estonia has completed 26 of the 30 chapters of the acquis communitaire. The last four should prove no serious problem. It is likely to follow the lead of the Poles, who have forged a bloc of the Visegrad countries to negotiate with Brussels.
In the future Europe, this small effectively Scandinavian nation with its wild woods with bear, boar and even wolves; rivers and lakes teeming with salmon, may occupy a natural wilderness for European urbanites to escape to, comparable to such states as Maine and New Hampshire in the USA.

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Energy council approves bond issue in Estonia

The Estonian supervisory council of the utility, Eesti Energia, approved on July 8th a 200m Euro bond issue, RFE/RL reported. The issue, which will be organised by SchrodersSalomonSmithBarney, is intended to help finance the renovation of the utility's two large shale-oil power stations.
In preparation for the bond issue, the government obtained credit ratings for the utility from international ratings agencies, Moody's and Standard & Poor's.
The ratings, which are the same as those of Estonia, are the highest among energy firms in Central and Eastern Europe.
The council also decided to give the utility's board two months to draw up a report on combining the shale-oil mining company Eesti Polevkivi and Narva Elektrijaamad.

Estonia completes placement of 100m Euros in 5-year Eurobonds

The Estonian Finance Ministry said that the Baltic country has completed placement of 100m Euros in five-year Eurobonds, BNS reported recently. Most of the bonds (55%of the issue) were sold to Germany. Among the investors, 40% are banks, 38% are property managers, 12% are single investors and 10% are pension funds. Most of the money raised will go to refinancing debt, the ministry said.

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Taxation chapter concluded

On 28th June, Estonia concluded talks with the EU on the taxation chapter. Following agreement, Estonia will be able to apply tax exemptions on reinvested business profits, Estonian Radio reported. Estonia has to bring taxation of dividends in line with EU requirements by 2008. The country will retain a right to apply VAT exemptions on district heating until 2007 and will have a transition period, until 2009, to bring its excise duty on tobacco products to the EU level.
However, the EU did not agree to Estonia's request for a transition period for tax-free shopping on board ships and on VAT exemptions on wind energy.
Estonian Prime Minister, Siim Kallas, said that in general, the agreements exceeded the expectations Estonia had a year ago.

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Estonia, Armenia sign trade, economic cooperation pact

Estonian Economy Minister, Liina Tonisson, and Armenian Trade and Economic Development Minister, Karen Chshmaritian, signed a trade and economic cooperation agreement in Tallinn recently, RFE/RL reported. 
The agreement establishes a most-favoured-nation regime that should boost the modest trade levels between the countries (Armenia ranked 105th among Estonia's trading partners in 2001). Estonian President, Arnold Ruutel told his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharian, that the two countries are primarily connected by cultural ties, but should share their experience in the information technology sphere in which both are regional leaders. 
Ruutel also spoke about Estonia's efforts to join NATO, with Kocharian noting that Armenia participates in the Partnership for Peace Programme, but is not seeking NATO membership. Kocharian also held talks with Prime Minister, Siim Kallas, Foreign Minister, Kristiina Ojuland, and Parliament Chairman, Toomas Savi.

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Storms mean 300 ha of Estonian forest need clearing

The flash storms that swept over Estonia in early July damaged more than 150,000 cu.m. of timber; more than 300 ha of forest will have to be cleared completely and extensive logging to eliminate storm damage has to be done on an area of 2,000 ha, BNS News Agency has reported.
The damage was the heaviest in the Paasvere and Halliku districts in the northeast and southeast, forestry director of the state forest management centre, Tavo Uuetalu, told BNS.
"The storm headed from the south to the north, leaving behind a path 5 km wide and more than 40 km long, very similar to last year's damage in the same area," Uuetalu said. The centre has not yet added up the financial loss, he said...

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EMT: Estonians, Latvians likely to buy Nokia phones

According to figures from Estonia's leading mobile telephone operator EMT, 57.6% of the company's clients used Nokia handsets in June, BNS News Agency reported. Nokia remains the most popular mobile telephone on Latvian mobile operator Latvijas Mobilais Telefons (LMT) network, as 64.9% of its clients were using Nokias. In addition, Nokia has been the favourite among LMT customers since last July, when Nokia mobile telephones were used by 64.4% of LMT clients.
Of EMT clients, the next popular brand was Ericsson, with 15.1% of the telephones linked up to the EMT network coming from that manufacturer. The remaining 27.2% of EMT's clients used telephones by other manufacturers.
In Latvia, the runner-up was Siemens, used by 14.9% of LMT clients, up from only 10.3% a year ago. The popularity of Ericsson phones among LMT clients has dwindled to 8.1% from 10.8% last July.
The top 10 most popular mobile telephones among LMT clients also includes Motorola, Alcatel, Philips, Samsung, Sagem, Sony and Bosch.
EMT had 391,000 clients as of the end of the first quarter of this year. In mid-June LMT had 401,135 people, or 17.15% of Latvia's population, as its clients.

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