Books on Estonia
Update No: 284 - (26/07/04)
Estonia cleaves to the West
Estonia has just joined the EU, but having joined NATO means just as much, if
not more. For the country has, as we shall see, had a controversial recent
Estonian Prime Minister Juhan Parts said at a press conference during the NATO
summit in Istanbul at the end of June, that Estonia, in cooperation with NATO,
is prepared to participate in training Iraqi military personnel.
"Of course, we should be ready for this. I am confident that it would make
sense to share our experience with the Iraqi armed forces," Parts said.
Estonian specialists may invite Iraqi military personnel to study at the Baltic
College in Tartu, he said.
Furthermore, Estonia is prepared to send five or six troops to service the Kabul
air field as part of a NATO mission, Parts said. This step will not require
budget adjustments, he said. The Defense Ministry can send additional personnel
to Kabul within the existing budget plan, he said. A group of sappers will
resume their work in Afghanistan after a six-month suspension, he added.
Estonia's chequered history
The Estonians have had a turbulent history, never more so than in the twentieth
century. Estonian soldiers in World War II fought with the German army against
the Soviet Union, which had previously invaded the Baltic states, along with
Finland, between 1939-1940. After German forces began their retreat from the
Soviet Union towards the end of the war, the Red Army's advance was held up for
some 8 months in Estonia, as Estonian fighters, many working with the German
army, held off the Red Army, who were perceived as invaders, based on the
previous experience of their occupation.
The authorities of the Estonian town of Lihula are planning to install a
monument to the soldiers who fought with the 20th Estonian SS division during
WWII, an idea the city of Parnu had earlier rejected.
It is planned to unveil the monument at the Tamme park in late August, on the
anniversary of the restoration of Estonia's independence. Lihula district
culture advisor Kersti Ajaots said the monument "should also remind the
people of the students of the Lihula gymnasium [high school] who fought and died
in WWII." The monument depicts a soldier wearing a German army uniform and
a helmet, with the German Iron Cross on his chest.
Such a monument was erected in downtown Parnu in 2002, but the city
administration had nothing to do but remove it under pressure from public
opinion nine days later. The Russian Foreign Ministry also condemned the idea at
Lazar asks EU to examine Estonia's policy on Nazism
Russia's chief rabbi Berl Lazar has asked European Commission President
Romano Prodi to evaluate Estonia's policy on Nazism.
In his letter to Prodi, Lazar notes that a meeting of former SS servicemen and
their supporters recently took place in Estonia. It was announced at this
meeting that a monument to the supporters of Nazism will soon be opened in the
center of the country.
"The fact that the memorial to dead SS members and guards of concentration
camps will be erected by the Estonian authorities next to a memorial complex
built in memory of the soldiers who liberated Estonia from Hitler's occupation
looks especially cynical," says Lazar's letter.
The letter says that "all of this is happening as the United Europe
celebrates the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Front and as it is
preparing to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazism, which saved
the European civilization from descending into the darkness of barbarity."
Lazar notes that "this significant occurrence is not something completely
unusual in modern-day Estonia," and that "the country's authorities
are deliberately conducting propaganda to put a heroic image on those who fought
against the anti-Hitler coalition."
"This is especially insulting for us, European Jews," says the letter.
Foreign minister defends human rights situation
European agencies will not monitor the ongoing human rights situation in
Estonia, despite Russia's concerns over the plight of ethnic Russians in the
Baltic state, said Estonian foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland.
"There are no strong reasons for this [a monitoring]. I do not see any. The
human rights situation in Estonia has improved. The EU and NATO admit that we
observe the Copenhagen conditions, and the Council of Europe could use our
experience in the sphere of integrating non-native citizens," Ojuland told
a press conference in Tallinn recently.
She said that over the last six months, Russia's complaints about Estonia became
more aggressive. "What is currently happening resembles the situation of
the early nineties, when Estonia was still fighting for its independence.
Obviously, someone is very upset over Estonia's accession to the EU and
NATO," Ojuland said.
Talking about the signing of the Russian-Estonian border agreement, Ojuland said
that "Estonia has been ready to sign the agreement for several years, but
Russia has to make the first step, showing political will." such questions
in accordance with its interests."
Estonia establishes diplomatic relations with Iraq
Estonia recently established diplomatic relations with Iraq, although the Baltic
country said it does not intend opening an embassy there.
"Now it's important to do everything we can to give the new Iraqi
government wide international support," Prime Minister, Juhan Parts, said
at a news conference.
Iraq recognized Estonia's independence from the former Soviet Union in 1992, but
until recently the two countries did not have diplomatic ties.
Estonia has 45 soldiers serving with US-led forces in Iraq and Foreign Minister,
Kristiina Ojuland, said, a ministerial visit to the country was now possible.
"The establishment of diplomatic relations is the first step towards
planning a visit," Ojuland said, the Baltic News Agency (BNS) reported.
BNS quoted Ojuland as saying Estonia did not plan to open an embassy in Iraq,
but would appoint an ambassador who would reside elsewhere.
Regarding Afghanistan, Ojuland said that establishing diplomatic relations was
not on the agenda at present, but may be considered after the October elections
Tele2 boosts ownership in Estonia
Scandinavian Tele2 AB, the leading alternative pan-European telecommunications
company, announced recently that it had obtained 100 per cent ownership in and
full control over Tele2 Holding AS, located in Estonia, by acquiring the
outstanding 10 per cent of the shares, New Europe has reported.
Tele2 Holding AS holds a 100 per cent share in UAB Tele2 in Lithuania and a 52
per cent share in Tele2 Eesti AS in Estonia. The remaining shares of Tele2 Eesti
AS are controlled by the Tele2 group. Tele2 is Europe's leading alternative
telecom operator, which has over 24 million customers in 24 countries.
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