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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 8,383 6,413 5,500 95
GNI per capita
 US $ 3,870 4,130 3,870 72
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Area ( 


ethnic groups 
Estonians 63.9%
Russians 29%
Ukrainians 2.7%



Arnold Rüütel

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 abstentions. 
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 insurance budget. 
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 supervisory authority.

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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.

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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 reported.
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.

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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 polls.

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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.

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