Books on Estonia
Update No: 295 - (26/07/05)
Parts resigns, president deliberates PM nominee
Prime Minister Johan Parts announced his resignation after parliamentarians,
many from ruling parties, voted to remove Justice Minister Ken-Marti Vaher for
an apparently poorly drafted anti-corruption programme. "There is nothing
unnatural in opposition parties expressing a no-confidence vote in a minister.
But when the ruling parties join a no-confidence motion against a government
minister, it is clear that the work and cooperation potential of this government
are gone irretrievably," the prime minister said.
Eiki Nestor, deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Party faction in
Parliament, said the re-election of Deputy Ergma to the speakership of
parliament signalled that parties were finding the will to cooperate. "Ergma's
becoming speaker shows that the Reform Party, the Centre Party and Res Publica
have started to cooperate," he said.
Speculation has focused on a wide range of possible coalitions, and many
analysts believe that President Arnold Ruutel will select the prime minister
nominee from either the Reformists or the Centrists.
Reform Party Deputy Chairman Meelis Atonen said the Reformist could join a
coalition with Res Publica and the Centrists if the partners agree to its demand
that the personal income tax be cut further.
Chairwoman of the Centre faction, Vilja Savisaar, didn't rule out a coalition
between the three parties either. "Everything's thinkable. It wouldn't be a
marriage between us, but agreeing about what could be done with such a
coalition," she was quoted by the Baltic News Service as saying.
Estonian Parliament ratifies border treaty with Russia
At its extraordinary session on July 3rd, Parliament ratified the treaties on
the land border and sea border with Russia that were signed in Moscow on May
18th. The ratification bill was passed with votes 78 to four with no
The borderline set out by the land border treaty is virtually the same as the
border between the Estonian SSR and Russia during the decades of Soviet rule,
which since 1991 serves as the de facto border between the countries.
Now that the border has become official, Estonia has lost about 5 per cent of
its pre-war territory as set out in the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920. Thus, on a
proposal from five parliamentary factions, lawmakers added a preamble to the
treaties saying that in ratifying the treaties Parliament keeps in mind that the
treaty on the state border partly changes in agreement with Article 122 of the
Estonian Constitution the boundary line as fixed in the Tartu Peace Treaty
concluded between Estonia and Russia in 1920 but does not affect the rest of the
peace treaty or predetermine future handling of other bilateral issues not
related to the border treaties.
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that in creating the preamble Parliament wanted
to place the two agreements that were technical by their nature into the general
context of Estonia's statehood and foreign policy.
"At the same time, the Riigikogu has created no additional conditions or
anything else here that could be treated as reservations or influencing of the
content of the treaties," the minister said.
Russia dissatisfied with preamble to border treaties
Russia is never satisfied, however, with its Baltic neighbours. Russia's
Foreign Ministry voiced dissatisfaction with the preamble added by Estonia's
Parliament to the border treaty with Russia.
"The Russian side warned its Estonian partners that any attempts to add
trend-determined assessments of events that happened in the Baltic countries in
the 1930s and 1940s to our modern bilateral relations are fraught with
complicating the process of the border treaties' ratification by the Federal
Assembly," a ministry spokesman was quoted by Interfax as saying, the
Baltic News Service reported.
"To our regret, we have to acknowledge that the authorities in Tallinn have
not listened to our arguments and consequently have assumed responsibility for
the future of the border treaties," the spokesman said.
German president visits Estonia
Estonia has much better relations with Germany. German President Horst
Koehler arrived in Estonia in early July for a short visit that included
rededication ceremonies for a restored Lutheran church. The president
accompanied by his wife dined with his Estonian counterpart Arnold Ruutel in the
historic fishing village of Altja in northern Estonia.
The two heads of state were present at the rededication ceremony at St. John's
Lutheran Church in Tartu, the intellectual and cultural centre of the Baltic
republic and home to Estonia's oldest and most renowned university. The church
was restored with German funding. Tartu was a commercial centre of considerable
importance during the later Middle Ages. It was a member of the Hanseatic League
and had close ties to Germany for centuries.
Reform Party and People's Union unite against Centrists
Parnu Postimees has reported recently on a different subject, but also
indicating just how Western is Estonia's orientation these days. The Estonian
Reform Party and the People's Union are still against motions by Social Affairs
Minister Jaak Aab from the Centre Party, the third party in the ruling
coalition, on how to patch up a 377m kroon (24m euro) gap in the medical
According to motions made at the end of May, the state's social tax should be
raised, hospital revenues should be taxed and asset expenses should be covered
by the state budget in order to economize.
Reform Party Deputy Chairman Meelis Atonen said the state budget did not permit
covering hospital expenses on assets. Atonen told the paper that the Reform
Party preferred putting more weight on patients' own responsibility. "The
sickness benefits could be 70 per cent instead of the present 80 per cent [of
the wages.] One version would be to reduce it starting from the second week of
sickness," he said.
Estonia joins Europol
An act passed by Parliament in January came into force on July 1st, as
Estonia joined the convention of Europol, the European law enforcement
organization set up to combat international crime and prevent breaches of law.
The purpose of the Europol Convention is to promote member states' anti-crime
activities, analyse felonies and harmonize investigation methods, spokespeople
for the central criminal police said.
Estonia's central criminal police will represent the Europol framework's
domestic unit, and the Data Protection Inspectorate will serve as the
Riga Airport wins accolades
"Airports Council International - Europe" (ACI Europe) at the
organisation's annual congress in Munich recently named the Riga International
Airport the best European airport with annual passenger turnover of 1-5 million,
the airport's press secretary, Andorijs Darzins, said, Leta reported.
The jury commended Riga Airport employees' professionalism in all areas. The
winner among airports in the over 25 million passenger category was Frankfurt
Airport; and Athens Airport took the "Best Airport Award" in the 10-25
million passenger category.
Norway's Vardar launches 24m Euro wind farm in Estonia
Norwegian company Vardar has opened a 24m Euro wind energy facility in Estonia,
the company's Estonia operation, Pakri Tuulepark, said recently, Petroleum World
The Pakri wind farm, with eight wind generators, has an expected annual
production capacity of 56 GWh (GigaWatt hours), meeting about one per cent of
Estonia's net electricity consumption, said Martin Kruus, head of the Pakri wind
farm owner company Pakri Tuulepark.
The wind farm will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50,000 tonnes annually by
replacing oil shale based electricity production.
"By building the wind farm, we have made a significant investment in the
future of generating electricity in Estonia," Kruus said in the statement.
Estonia has a target of providing 5.1% of its electricity needs from renewable
sources by 2010.
Estonia's main energy source is at present oil-shale, which causes considerable
air pollution, the report said.
"While the production costs of the oil-shale-based energy continue to grow
because of the stringent environmental requirements of the EU, there is no such
danger with renewable energy sources," Kruus said.
The Pakri wind farm sits atop the Pakri peninsula, which juts into the Baltic
Sea 60 kilometres (36 miles) west of the capital, Tallinn, at a location that
once hosted a training centre for Soviet border guards.
70% of the shares in the Pakri wind farm are owned by Norway's Vardar and 30% by
Nordic Environment Finance Corporation, NEFCO. Finland will purchase half a
million tonnes of emission reductions from the project in 2004-2012 for a price
of 5.8 Euro per tonne of carbon dioxide. The total value of the transaction is
approximately 2.5m Euro.
Finland can utilise the emission reductions for meeting its Kyoto emission
reduction target, according to the report.
Pakri wind farm is a joint implementation (JI) project under the Kyoto protocol.
JI aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Estonia approves online voting
Estonia's parliament, on June 28th, voted to allow votes in local elections this
autumn to be cast via the internet, news agency BNS reported.
Some 52 members of the 101-seat parliament voted in favour of the bill despite
trenchant opposition from the country's President Arnold Ruutel, who had twice
previously refused to sign the bill into law, and who is now expected to
challenge it in the constitutional court. Estonia enjoys a reputation as a
technically sophisticated nation; citizens can avail themselves of a range of
services online and via mobile phones, including submitting tax returns and
applying for a passport. Ruutel's opposition to the bill stems chiefly from the
fact that online voters may change their ballot right up until the close of
Nokia to expand Elisa networks
Finnish telco, Elisa, and Nokia signed a frame agreement on June 13th for the
expansion of Elisa's second and third generation mobile networks in Finland and
Estonia, New Europe reported.
The agreement is an extension to the two companies' frame agreement signed in
2001. Under the agreement, Nokia will supply Elisa with 2G and 3G radio network
solutions including the Nokia High Speed downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) solution
as well as expansions to Elisa's circuit core and packet core networks. Nokia
continues as the main supplier of Elisa's mobile network infrastructure.