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Estonian Review: June 20-26, 2005

30.06.2005

TOP NEWS
FOREIGN NEWS
DEFENCE NEWS
DOMESTIC NEWS
ECONOMIC NEWS
CULTURAL NEWS



TOP NEWS

Estonian Parliament ratifies Estonian-Russian border treaties

Jun 20
- The Estonian parliament at its extraordinary session ratified the treaties on the land border and sea border with Russia signed in Moscow on May 18. The ratification bill was passed with votes 78 to four and no abstentions. Nineteen deputies were not present. Yes votes from at least 68 members of Estonia's 101-seat parliament were needed for the treaties to be ratified. According to the description of the Estonian-Russian land border the length of the border is 333.7 kilometers, of which 207.5 kilometers runs on land and rivers and 126.2 on the border lakes. Acting on a proposal from five parliamentary factions, lawmakers added to the ratification bill a preamble saying that the parliament ratifies the border treaties proceeding from legal continuity of the Republic of Estonia proclaimed on Feb. 24, 1918 as stated in the Constitution, the Aug. 20, 1991 resolution of the Supreme Council on Estonia's independent statehood and the Oct. 7, 1992 declaration of the parliament on the restoration of constitutional order. The preamble says that in ratifying the treaties the 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 the parliament wished 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. "Estonia ratifies the border treaties exactly as they were signed and is not setting any unilateral conditions as regards their provisions. In that respect we are clearly observing the international practice toward reducing all kinds of political declarations that burden the treaty," he said. Paet said Estonia's decision to rapidly embark on ratification of the border treaties had received support from other countries. "The reaction of our friends and allies to the signing of the border treaties has been heartening," he said. "Delight at the signature of the Estonian-Russian border treaties was expressed also at the level of EU heads of state and heads of government," Paet said, referring to the conclusions of the meeting of the EU Council that ended a few days ago. On June 22 Estonian President Arnold Rüütel also formally endorsed the act ratifying the Estonian-Russian border treaties on.


STATEMENT BY THE ESTONIAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS - JUNE 22

The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses regret that the Government of the Russian Federation does not plan to present the Estonian-Russian Border Treaties to the Russian Duma for ratification. Estonian side has demonstrated its good will by ratifying the border agreements quickly. The border treaties were signed on 18 May and were shortly presented to the Riigikogu for ratification. The Estonian Parliament ratified the agreements already on 20 June. The Estonian President promulgated the ratification act today. With this essentially all the activities of the Estonian side concerning the border treaties are completed. The Estonian Government did not tie the ratification of the border treaties with any additional annexes that would allow presenting new demands and neither did the Riigikogu when they supplemented the bill. This belief was very clearly reiterated by the Estonian Foreign Minister in his speech to the Riigikogu on 20 June.


STATEMENT BY THE ESTONIAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS - JUNE 27

The Estonian Foreign Ministry is surprised by the statement made today by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and regards the Russian side's decision as unfortunate. The Russian Foreign Ministry sent a note to the Estonian Foreign Ministry, informing of the Russian intention to initiate domestic procedures to exempt the Russian Federation of obligations ensuing from the signing of the border treaties with the Republic of Estonia. The Russian Foreign Ministry also expressed the desire to open up new negotiations. The Russian side has deemed the use of diplomatic channels in clarifying matters, related to this statement, and to their earlier statement as unnecessary. Estonia, on its part, is confident that it has done everything in its power to quickly render the treaty into force. The Estonian side has repeatedly assured that it has not linked any new issues to the border treaties, and thus, the Russian side's assertion that Estonia has added new aspects to the treaties is ungrounded.


US hail Estonia's ratification of Estonian-Russian border treaties

Jun 22
- The United States has welcomed the ratification of the Estonian-Russian border treaties by the Estonian parliament. "The United States welcomes Estonian ratification of the treaty to demarcate the border between Estonia and Russia. We see this as a positive step aimed at helping
Estonia and Russia move forward in building a strong and constructive relationship," said Thomas Hodges, public affairs officer at the US embassy in Tallinn.



FOREIGN NEWS

Baltic States occupation in 1940 remembered by the European Parliament

Jun 22
- The Plenary Session of the European Parliament was opened with a Declaration made by the President of the Parliament Josep Borrel on occasion of the 65th anniversary from the occupation of the Baltic Sates by the Soviet Union. During the June Plenary Session a draft resolution initiated by the members of the EPP-ED Group, Tunne Kelam (ET), Vytautas Landsbergis (LT), Aldis Kuškis (LV), Rihards Piks (LV) and Christopher Beazley (UK), was supported by the EPP-ED Group. The draft resolution stressed that the occupation of three Baltic States was a direct result of the August 23, 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact providing for the division of the zones of "influence" between two aggressive dictatorships. The Members of the EPP-ED Group express their deep regret that the 1940 illegal occupation resulted in the total extinction by brutal force of state structures and civil society of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, wiped these three member states of the League of Nations from the political map of Europe for half a century and caused massive terror, suppression of basic human rights as well as innumerable human tragedies and damage. Tunne Kelam MEP, one of the initiators of the draft resolution said that "On this background, it is especially important for the Baltic nations to feel sure that the tragedies of the past will never happen again. This will be possible if the Russian Federation, as legal successor to the Soviet Union, would join with the assessments given by the European Parliament and other democratic bodies about the occupation of the three Baltic States".


Estonia to support aid projects for Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan

Jun 21
- The Estonian Foreign Ministry decided to support two development aid projects for Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan with a total of nearly 500,000 kroons (EUR 32,000). Foreign Minister Urmas Paet has signed an order to allocate that sum from the Foreign Ministry's budgetary resources earmarked for development and humanitarian aid. As part of the project, 15 students from the Ukrainian Academy of Diplomacy will learn in Estonia about Estonia's experience concerning the EU and NATO integration. The Ukrainians attending the course will hear lectures by teachers and public servants from the Estonian School of Diplomacy and Tartu University as well as the Estonian Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry and other state agencies. The second project, arranged by the Lake Peipsi Co-operation Centre, is aimed at supporting environmental co-operation between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan and increase the involvement of different interest groups in settling the matters of water economy. The project focuses on spreading the information about the environmental situation of the border rivers Tsu and Talassi and tries to increase the awareness of non-profit organizations and the broader public. The budget of the Estonian Foreign Ministry sets out eight million Kroons for development aid and humanitarian aid this year.


Estonian Foreign Minister calls for more efficient UN

Jun 25
- Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet discussed with his Irish colleague Dermot Ahern in Brussels issues related to the ongoing United Nations reform and the need for common positions of the European Union (EU) in those issues. The ministers underlined the importance of issues to come up for discussion at the UN summit in September and the declaration based on the UN secretary-general's report. "It must contain concrete decisions for reforming the United Nations and establishing the principles for further activities of the UN in three main spheres, those pertaining to development, security and human rights," Paet said. In his opinion the European Union should go to the summit with a common position in order to achieve the best possible result. "The aim of Estonia is to achieve better concord regarding the protection of human rights and the whole activity of the United Nations," the minister added. "Therefore we are in favour of a closer link between the UN high commissioner for human rights and the Security Council as well as of the proposal to strengthen the high commissioner's office and the creation of a fund supporting the construction of democracy on UN level." Both Paet and Ahern expressed the hope that the secretary-general's plan for distributing permanent and non-permanent seats with the reform of the Security Council would be taken into consideration so that small countries' participation in the work of the Security Council would be ensured.


Nicaragua ambassador presents credentials in Estonia

Jun 21
- Nicaraguan Ambassador Ricardo Jose Alvarado Noguera presented his credentials to Estonian President Arnold Rüütel. Rüütel said at the meeting that Estonia is planning to intensify its contacts with countries of Central America through the Organization of American States (OAS). Estonia has an observer's status with OAS. The Nicaraguan ambassador said he admires Estonia's rapid economic progress and found that Estonia and Nicaragua could work closely with each other in a number of areas. Estonia and Nicaragua established diplomatic relations in March 2004. Residing in Copenhagen, Noguera is the first Nicaraguan ambassador to Estonia.


Estonian rescue logistics team returned from Indonesia

Jun 20
- An Estonian rescue team logistics group that started a mission in Indonesia on May 24 returned from the mission. The three-member group, Est-Log 2, had to provide logistical support to co-ordinators of international post-disaster rebuilding efforts. The Estonians' main task was to ensure proper functioning of the field camp of UN relief organizations at Calang on the western coast of the island of Sumatra. The men had to secure the functioning of electricity and communications networks and organize the maintenance of sanitary standards and feeding of the humanitarian personnel.



DEFENCE NEWS

Estonia, Ukraine sign defence co-operation program

Jun 21
- Estonian Defense Minister Jaak Jõerüüt and Ukrainian Defense Minister Anatoli Grytsenko signed a program for promoting co-operation between the defense forces of the two countries until the year 2007. "The program that sets out the plan for reform of Ukraine's national defense is impressive," said Jõerüüt. He also said that Estonia, which started to build up its defense forces almost from scratch 14 years ago, has good experience in defense forces reform and that the country is ready to assist within the limits of its possibilities with the structural changes planned in Ukraine. During Joerüüt's meeting with Ukraine's Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk the latter said that Ukraine considers Estonia a good friend.


Estonian serving as aide-de-camp to NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation

Jun 22
- Capt. Jaak Tarien of Estonia serves as aide-de-camp to Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), starting from June 20. The principal tasks of the aide-de-camp are to accompany the top-level strategic NATO commander at official meetings and prepare the meetings. Giambastiani also serves as Commander US Joint Forces Command (CDRUSJFCOM). Tarien's term of service as aide-de-camp is three years. A graduate of the US Air Command and Staff College, Tarien has served as commander of the Estonian air surveillance division. There are currently 16 Estonian officers and 14 noncommissioned officers serving in structural units of NATO and the European Union.



DOMESTIC NEWS

Estonian president underlines importance of friends and allies in Victory Day speech

Jun 23
- President Arnold Rüütel said that on Victory Day words of gratitude are due not to Estonia's own heroes alone, but also to our friends and allies from all over the world. "The importance of partners in the achievement of aims is corroborated both in remote history as well as today," he said. Rüütel said that although every nation's will to defend their interests is decisive, the support of partners is a value of importance, as the world is becoming ever so "smaller", but at the same time also more polarized. The president pointed out that the precondition for allies' support was our own contribution to joint activity. "Estonian units are defending peace in different corners of the world where our soldiers' skills have been highly valued," he said.


Estonian president promulgates law banning political outdoor ads

Jun 20
- President Arnold Rüütel signed into law the much-debated legislation that prohibits political outdoor advertising in Estonia during the active period of pre-election campaigning, that is, from the final day of registration of candidates. The law was backed in the parliamentary vote on June 9 by 53 deputies from Pro Patria Union, Res Publica, the People's Union and the Social Democratic Party while 39 MPs from the Reform and Center parties voted against it. The law prohibits the display of images of independent candidates, political parties and persons running on a party ticket, party logotypes and other symbols on the walls of buildings, vehicles of the public transport system and cabs, and other political outdoor ads.



ECONOMIC NEWS

Cost of living places Tallinn No 60 among world cities

Jun 20
- It appears from a survey by the international research center Mercer Human Resource Consulting that Tallinn takes the 60th place among 144 world cities among which Tokyo is the most expensive and Asuncion the cheapest. Tallinn made a considerable rise in its rating. If last year the Estonian capital was the 75th world city in terms of the cost of living, then this year it stands 15 places higher.


Estonian economy to grow 5.7 pct annually till 2010 - study

Jun 21
- The Estonian economy is expected to grow at a rate of 5.7 percent annually on the average till 2010, a survey by the Estonian Institute of Economic Research reveals. It appears from the study that Estonia has good outlooks of successful development in the medium-long term.
Interviews with 13 economic analysts put the average unemployment rate at 8 percent and growth in real wages at 5.5 percent in 2006-2010. Thus, the average nominal pay in Estonia should reach 12,300 kroons (EUR 786) by 2010. Foreign direct investment is expected to make up 8.2 percent of gross domestic product and the export of goods and services is seen to grow by 10.9 percent yearly in the period under review. Consumer prices will at the same time rise at a rate of 2.7 percent on the average.


Estonia: Productivity in Q1 up 13 pct on year

Jun 22
- Average productivity in all fields of activity in Estonia increased in the first quarter of this year by 21,000 kroons or 13 percent from the same period last year to 182,000 kroons (EUR 11,630) per capita and average hourly productivity reached 413 kroons. The corresponding figures in Q1 of 2004 were 161,000 and 364 kroons, data by the Statistical Office show. In last year's final quarter, however, productivity per capita was 188,000 kroons and hourly productivity 410 kroons. In the first quarter productivity was highest in the electricity, steam and hot water supply at 475,000 kroons (349,000 kroons in Q1 of 2004) and lowest in leatherworking at 50,000 kroons (47,000 kroons in the same period last year) and the manufacture of clothing -- 52,000 kroons (55,000 kroons in Q1 of 2004).


Currency Rates in Kroons
June 22, 2005

British pound - GBP - 23.398
Canadian dollar - CAD - 10.411
Swiss franc - CHF - 10.157
Danish krone - DKK - 2.101
Japanese yen - JPY - 0.118
Latvian lat - LVL - 22.484
Lithuanian lit - LTL - 4.532
Norwegian krone - NOK - 1.989
Russian rouble - RUB - 0.450
Swedish krona - SEK - 1.689
US dollar - USD - 12.837
Euro - EUR - 15.647



CULTURAL NEWS

Estonia, Philippines conclude cultural co-operation accord

Jun 21
- Estonia and Philippines have signed an agreement on co-operation in education, culture, sports, media and information technology. Among other things, the agreement provides for exchanges of films, exhibitions, educational journals and books, magazines and other materials on culture, history, conservation and restoration. The countries could jointly produce documentaries, fiction films and cartoons and contacts are to be established between filmmakers, directors and other cinema professionals. The agreement calls for visits by culture and education workers to the other country. In education, the parties will seek to promote academic ties and exchanges, issue grants and scholarships and facilitate access by people from the other country to their educational institutions. Another field that the agreement deals with is media.


Estonian Dancers win three gold medals

Jun 20
- The dancers of Palestra won three gold medals in three categories of modern dance in Poland. Palestra was founded in 1978 as a dance club with an unique style, combining elements from modern, latino, jazz, funky and show dance. The group is leaded by the well known dance teacher Reet Krieger. At the festival, organized 5th time this year, participated dancers from Russia, Germany, Brasilia, India, Mexico, Austria, Ukraine, Portugal etc. Palestra has participated in international festivals in Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, the Czech Republic, Armenia, Georgia, Canada, France, China, Finland and Germany.





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.
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