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Estonian Review: August 15-21, 2005

25.08.2005

FOREIGN NEWS
DEFENCE NEWS
DOMESTIC NEWS
ECONOMIC NEWS
SPORTS NEWS


FOREIGN NEWS

Three Estonian Mission Units start Training

Aug 15 - Two Estonian military units; police platoon, Estpatrol-13 and the Defence League mission platoon, Estguard-1 are preparing for joint missions to the Balkans, while light infantry platoon, Estpla-12 is preparing for a mission to Iraq. These Units have begun pre-mission training today.
There are 32 members of the paramilitary Defence League. 25 men from the defence forces are undergoing preparations for missions to the Balkans. Three men from either unit will remain in reserve at home.
The Defence League mission unit, Estguard-1 will be dispatched to the European Union-led Althea mission this September. The 29-member platoon from the Defence League, placed under Austrian command, will guard the Tuzla airfield and mission units' “Camp Eagle” located there.
The Commander of Estguard-1 is Lt. Margus Võsa from defence forces head quarters.
The Estonian military police platoon will be part of the NATO forces KFOR multinational special unit serving in the Pristina area.
Commander of the 22-strong multi-purpose military police unit is Lt. Artur Meerits.
The military police will be under the command of the Italian Carabinieri regimental command unit. Their duty will be to patrol the area for weapons.
Estpla-12 will also start training in case the parliament decides to extend the duration of the mission to Iraq. Estpla-11 now serving in Iraq will complete its mission by this December.


Estonia planning to build embassy in Beijing

Aug 17 - Estonia plans to build an embassy in Beijing and to send additional diplomats to serve in China.
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that the Chinese government recently allocated a plot for the construction of the Estonian embassy. The foreign minister said that after completion of the embassy building, there are plans for increasing the staff present there. Paet expressed hope that this could already happen by next year. Presently the Estonian embassy is situated in a Beijing hotel, and three diplomats represent Estonia there.
One of the topics of discussion during the course of the meeting between Paet and his Chinese colleague, Li Zhaoxing was the construction of the Estonian embassy in Beijing.
Other issues discussed included bilateral Sino-Estonian relations and international relations, as well as issues related to UN reform.
Moreover, Paet said the meeting focused on economic issues, above all transit and development of cultural and educational relations between the two nations.
Speaking about the Estonian-Russian border treaty, the Chinese foreign minister expressed hope that Estonia and Russia will find political wisdom and will come to terms over this issue.
The meeting of the two foreign ministers also addressed matters relating to the Estonian president's upcoming visit to China at the end of the month.


Black box of the Estonian helicopter wreck to be decoded in the UK

Aug 15 - The black box with the flight information recorder from the helicopter that crashed into Tallinn Bay on August 10 will be decoded in Great Britain.
As a spokesman from the Ministry reported, Taking the prosecutor's view into consideration, the helicopter crash investigation commission set up at the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Communications, decided to send the black box to the United Kingdom for decoding.
A member of the investigation commission and a representative from the police will go to Great Britain to observe the decoding.
The commission decided not to send the flight information recorder to the United States or to France, where the helicopter was manufactured and the helicopter engine was produced respectively, to prevent any possible conflict of interests.


Estonian MP: All Finno-Ugric Peoples in Russia have problems

Aug 19 - Member of the Estonian parliament, Katrin Saks drew up a report on the situation of Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. She says that these people face problems, which Russia continues to overlook. "These are the problems of smaller ethnic groups living in a very centralized country. "The main concern is that neither the central Russian authorities nor the local leaders want to recognize the existence of any such problems."
Saks said that the same attitude was apparent at a meeting with President of the Mari El Republic, Leonid Markelov who met with Estonian Education and Science Minister, Mailis Reps, and with Finnish and Hungarian diplomats.
According to Saks, “problems have been brought more to the forefront in Mari El than in the case of other Finno-Ugric minority groups living in Russia."
Saks quoted the fact that although according to the law there are two official languages in the republic, they do not actually have an equal status and Russian continues to assume the dominating role. "Besides, no one admits the existence of an opposition," Saks added. "It is difficult to maintain a dialogue and solve problems when you have such a situation." She also added that many questions, involving the educational sphere, couldn’t be solved locally but also depended on the central authorities. Saks will draw up a report on the situation of the Finno-Ugric peoples by the end of the year.


DEFENCE NEWS

President hands over flag to Estonian ground forces

Aug 17 - Estonian President Arnold Rüütel today attended a ceremony at the Estonian soldiers' memorial church and handed over a service flag to the ground forces, the president's office reported. The head of state struck the first nail into the staff of the flag given to the ground forces by the Estonian Reserve Officers' Body.
Rüütel underlined in his speech that the personnel of the ground forces, set up five years ago, had been doing a remarkable job and have shown themselves as capable of development.
"The ground forces have become one of the supporting pillars to Estonia’s military defence," he said.
"As a part of the armed forces you have been bearing the biggest burden in making preparations for international missions and in participating in them."
The head of state said that soldiers from the ground forces have deserved very positive, and now and then, even exalting praise both for their combat skills, personal characteristics as well as for bravery and endurance.
"Their military achievements as well as formation of the first infantry brigade certainly deserves recognition in the NATO integration process," Rüütel said.
The president recognized the contribution of the Estonian Reserve Officers' Body in the development of state defence and strengthening of statehood. He said that he handed over the flag to the ground forces with the certainty that the whole personnel of the service, from private to the commander of the service, was ready to hold it in great esteem.
As reported by the defence services’ headquarters, the flag of the ground forces was blessed by Archbishop Andres Põder of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church and chief chaplain of the defence forces Col. Tonis Nõmmik,.
"The flag of the ground forces is a combat flag, showing identity infantrymen rally around it," said acting commander of the ground forces Lt. Col. Meelis Kiili. The flag is black, with a golden crenulated wall and three blue leopards en passant in the middle. A white sword with the blade pointed upwards behind the wall stands for military readiness and will of defence.
From the other branches of the armed forces, the air force has a flag but the navy does not have a their own flag. The ground forces make up the largest body of the Estonian defence system. It consists of the ground forces headquarters, the infantry training centres -- the Viru, Pärnu and Kuperjanov Single Infantry battalions, the Single
Guard Battalion, the Peace Operations Centre, the Tapa Training Centre, the staff and communications training centre Single Signals Battalion, the Scouts Battalion and the First Infantry Brigade.
The Estonian Reserve Officers Body was established in 1997 and it has more than one hundred active members.


DOMESTIC NEWS

Estonians to elect more than 3,000 local councillors on October 16

Aug 16 - Estonians will elect 3,109 local councillors in the local elections on October 16, 164 fewer than in the previous local elections. Mihkel Pilving, head of the secretariat of the central electoral committee, said that 3,273 councillors were elected three years ago.
The reason for this reduction is due to the consolidation of local governments. If in 2003 there were 241 local governments in Estonia then after this year's elections only 227 will remain. Also the size of the local councils has been reduced in some places, so for instance, Kohtla-Järve will have 21 councillors instead of 35.
A record number of candidates, 15,203 took up local council positions in 2002.
Nomination of candidates for this year's local elections will begin on Wednesday, August 17 and end September 6.
Candidates can be nominated to the Tallinn electoral committee from Monday to Thursday between 13:00 and 17:00 hours and on Friday between 13.00 and 16:00 hours. On the last day, September 6, it is possible to nominate candidates until 18:00 hours.
In accordance with the number of voting boroughs, Tallinn is divided into eight electoral districts. Mandates in the elections of the 63-seat City Council are distributed as follows: Haabersti-seven, Central Tallinn-eight, Kristiine-six, Lasnmäe-13, Mustamäe-nine, Nõmme-seven, Pirita-five and North Tallinn-eight seats.
Registration of electoral blocs will also start today and must be concluded by the end of the day on Thursday, September 1.


ECONOMIC NEWS

Saaremaa Harbour to be ready in May 2006

Aug 15 - The cornerstone was to be laid today for a 76.6-million-kroon (EUR 4.9 million) deepwater port in Estonia's western island of Saaremaa, which according to current plans would be completed by May of next year.
President, Arnold Rüütel, Economy and Communications Minister, Edgar Savisaar and the acting chairman of the management board of Tallinna Sadam (Port of Tallinn), Ain Kaljurand attended the ceremony.
Tallinna Sadam, the state company that owns Estonia's largest ports, signed a contract with the building company Merko in July for the construction of the port's hydro technical structures, port grounds and fences.
Preparations for construction activity on the site of the former Tamme port on Saaremaa's Tagaranna peninsula started on July 25. Construction started last Tuesday when workers from Merko drove a guide pile into the ground.
The deepwater port belonging to the state-owned company, Tallinna Sadam will be able to berth cruise ships up to 200 meters in length.


Estonian Ministry raises GDP growth forecast to 6.5 percent

Aug 16 - Estonia's Finance Ministry has revised its economic growth forecast for 2005 upwards to 6.5 percent, compared with a report in February, forecasting a more conservative growth rate of 5.9 percent.
In 2006, Estonia's gross domestic product is estimated to grow 6.6 percent, according to the new estimate, as compared with the previous estimate of 6.2 percent. According to the Finance Ministry, the economy is expected to grow at an annual rate of 6.3 percent in the years 2007-2009.
Estonia's current account gap is forecast to make up 10.4 percent of GDP in 2005 and 9.6 percent in 2006, the Finance Ministry said. By 2009 the shortfall is expected to decline to six percent of the GDP.
Inflation should reach 3.6 percent this year and 2.6 percent in each of the two following years. Under the Maastricht criteria, the annual rise in the consumer price index (CPI) of a country joining the Euro zone must not exceed the average rate of the three Euro zone countries with the lowest inflation rate by more than 1.5 percentage points. Andrus Saalik, chief of the department for economic analysis at the Ministry of Finance, said Estonia should meet this criteria by fall 2007.
According to current plans, Estonia wishes to adopt the euro at the beginning of 2007. Saalik said at a news conference that in order to curb inflation, the government is seriously thinking about adjourning an increase in the alcohol excise duty, which under existing plans must happen by the beginning of 2006.


Estonia to boost 2005 Expenditure by EUR 134 MLN with extra budget

Aug 16 – As a direct result of the bigger-than-expected revenue intake, Estonia is about to make a 1.9 billion kroon supplementary budget for the current year, said Finance Minister Aivar Sõerd. The Finance Ministry added later that the size of the extra budget could be up to 2.1 billion kroons (EUR 134 mln).
The minister told BNS on Tuesday that the supplementary budget must bring into balance the Medical Insurance Fund’s budget and help bridge the shortfall of the national pension insurance structure.
The government will give the Medical Insurance Fund 200 million kroons to fill in the account gap, and an additional 100 million kroons to put it in the surplus said Sõerd.
700 million kroons will be added to the pension insurance fund, which will eliminate the need to use money from the stabilization reserve to pay out pensions in 2006.
In addition, the government is planning to create a reserve fund to pay for a penalty resulting from excessive sugar stockpiles. Estonia potentially owes the European Union penalty fees for its sugar surplus as well as other EU-related liabilities.
In accordance to the coalition agreement of the three parties that make up the ruling alliance, money will be given to compensate farmers for the losses they incurred as a result of crop failure in many areas in 2004.
The minister said that the factual tax burden in Estonia in 2005 would be 32.9 percent, and 33.6 percent in 2006.
The government will handle the supplementary budget for 2005 together with the 2006 state budget. Its final reading in the government is due by Sept. 22. In the first seven months of this year, Estonia's budgetary receipts totaled 31.8 billion kroons, that is 60 percent of the planned 12-month revenue.


Currency Rates in Kroons
August 21, 2005

British pound - GBP - 23.082
Canadian dollar - CAD - 10.553
Swiss franc - CHF - 10.109
Danish krone - DKK - 2.098
Japanese yen - JPY - 0.116
Latvian lat - LVL - 22.483
Lithuanian lit - LTL - 4.532
Norwegian krone - NOK - 1.961
Russian rouble - RUB - 0.450
Swedish krona - SEK - 1.674
US dollar - USD - 12.877
Euro - EUR - 15.647


SPORTS NEWS

Liimask wins gold at the Universiade

Aug 16 - Mirjam Liimask won the women’s 100 metre hurdles at the summer Universiade held in Izmir, Turkey with a time of 12.96 seconds. The Russian sprinter, Tatjana Pavlõi got silver with a time of 13.01 seconds and Derval O’Rourkel finished third with a time of 12.96 seconds.
Liimask who holds Estonia’s record for the 100 metre hurdles at 12,93 seconds, showed a time of 13,07 seconds at the semi-final.
According to her coach, Mehis Viru, Liimask acted right, when she decided to not take part in the Athletics Championships at Helsinki. "Why should she get herself soaked in the rain, it simply isn’t her race yet." Viru remarked, "Those powerful female sprinters get times of 13.07 even when running against the wind."




EESTI RINGVAADE is compiled from local news services, including BNS, and is issued by the Press and Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Eesti Ringvaade is also available through the Internet at http://www.vm.ee
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