Estonian Review: January 17-23, 2005




The dates of the Russian Foreign Minister's Estonia visit still need to be fixed

Jan 18
- The regular Estonian and Russian Foreign Ministry consultations took place in Moscow. Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Tiina Intelmann led the Estonian delegation and Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Tsizov led the Russian delegation. The parties concentrated on EU-Russia relations, regional co-operation and bilateral relations.
Under EU-Russia relations, the four rooms were discussed. The sides declared hope that the four rooms agreement would be signed at the May EU-Russia Summit. In discussing regional co-operation, Estonia raised the subject of building the Narva Bridge. The Russian side believed that regional co-operation would help improve bilateral relations and supported the Narva Bridge project stating that it would simplify interaction between the two countries.
The Russian side also emphasised the importance of developing strong economic relations and their interest in the shipping line on Lake Peipsi and Lake Pskov. Head of the Estonian delegation Tiina Intelmann recognised that developing economic relations with neighbours is of importance.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tsizov stated that Estonia Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland's invitation to visit Estonia has been accepted by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, however, the dates still need to be fixed. The 9 May event was also discussed. The Russian side also elaborated on the programme for Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with the Baltic Presidents that will be incorporated into to the EU-Russia Summit on 10 May in Moscow.
During the consultations, Estonia also raised the question of the returning of Estonian cultural possessions and the plight of the Finno-Ugric people living in Russia. The Russians touched upon the national minority question. The sides decided to continue the talks that took place in a friendly and constructive atmosphere.

The Estonian President attended the inauguration ceremony of the President of Ukraine

Jan 23
- President Arnold Rüütel attended the inauguration ceremony of the Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and other ceremonial events in Kiev.
In the morning, the President met with Volodymyr Lytvyn, the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. At the meeting, the Estonian President said that he was content that a peaceful solution had been found to the political crisis, triggered by the presidential elections, and expressed his support to the continuing reform process in Ukraine. Volodymyr Lytvyn thanked Estonia for its support, and he spoke about the events that had happened in Ukraine during the last months emphasising the necessity for quick reforms and securing the unity of the state. President Rüütel suggested that Ukraine could take advantage of the Estonian reform experience and the Speaker showed his interest in that possibility. According to the Speaker, a separate department for European integration, led by the Deputy Prime Minister, would be set up in Ukraine.
The President attended a ceremonial session of the Verkhovna Rada where the oath of office was given and was also present at the Independence Square (Maidan) where President Yushchenko delivered his speech to the people of Ukraine.
The President Rüütel also had a bilateral meeting with President Viktor Yushchenko. Rüütel congratulated President Yushchenko on his inauguration. According to President Rüütel, the success of Ukraine is certainly the success of the whole Europe, as stability and welfare in Ukraine means stability for our continent as a whole. Rüütel added that Estonia welcomes the reforms in Ukraine and is ready to make its contribution in the areas where Estonia has useful experience to offer.
President Yushchenko stressed that Ukraine was using Estonia as an example for implementing its reforms. The Presidents discussed the possibilities for co-operation between the two countries, focusing first of all on the economy. Both sides showed their interest in developing transport infrastructure. The Ukrainian President said that the promotion of co-operation both in the east-west direction and the north-south direction is important for Ukraine.
President Rüütel invited President Yushchenko for a visit to Estonia and the invitation was accepted.

President Rüütel met with the Russian President and the Patriarch

Jan 20
- President Arnold Rüütel began his Moscow working visit by meeting with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia.
The President was met by Patriarch Alexy II at Sheremetjevo airport and from there they proceeded to the Patriarch's residence in the territory of the Kremlin. In the Patriarch's residence, President Rüütel met with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
A number of topics were addressed at the lunch meeting. President Rüütel spoke about the action plan of the four common spaces presented by the EU to Russia along with the development of bilateral economic relations between Estonia and Russia, focusing specially on cross-border co-operation. The Presidents agreed on the importance of the construction of a new bridge across the Narva River.
President Putin raised the issue of ethnic minorities. President Rüütel explained the policy of Estonia in those issues. Rüütel said that Estonia has done a lot of work and has shaped its legislation regulating the national minorities issues in accordance with international legal acts and customs. President Rüütel added that it was out of question to ignore the language requirements necessary for citizenship.
Talking about the Estonian-Russian border agreement, Rüütel suggested that the Foreign Ministers could sign the agreement on May 10, when the EU-Russia Summit will be held in Moscow. President Putin considered the suggestion seriously. In the context of the development of bilateral relations, the need to activate the work of Estonian-Russian intergovernmental commission was discussed.
President Rüütel spoke about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the tragic events that happened in Estonia as a consequence of it. Rüütel stated that the decision on declaring the pact null and void by the Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union in 1989 could be taken as a basis for mutual understanding between Estonia and Russia, the legal successor of the USSR. President Putin supported the denunciation of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.


Estonia is ready to sign border treaty with Russia - Foreign Minister

Jan 19
- Estonia is ready to sign a border delimitation treaty with Russia, Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland reaffirmed.
The Baltic State has in recent years consistently spoken about its readiness to sign the border treaty and the sooner this happens the better, the Minister told lawmakers in the question hour.
In Ojuland's opinion, it will not be possible to open new talks over the border treaty. The accord that was negotiated by several Estonian governments has already been initialised, most recently in 1999, and it is thus a symbol of continuity through different governments, she pointed out.
The present government definitely cannot reopen negotiations over the border treaty, the Minister said. "Our friends and partners in the European Union and NATO would certainly not understand such a move," she stated, "because the agreements were reached years ago and they have been adhered to under several governments."

Estonia thanks Finland for help in search for tsunami victims

Jan 17
- Estonian Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland thanked the visiting Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation Paula Lehtomaki for Finland's assistance in looking for Estonian nationals staying in the Asian natural catastrophe area and bringing them back home.
"If there can be anything positive at all about such a terrible catastrophe, it's efficient and friendly co-operation with neighbours and mutual support," the Finnish Minister said. Ojuland briefed Lehtomaki about Estonia's contribution to the post-catastrophe relief effort.
Speaking more broadly about development co-operation, the Estonian Minister was pleased to note that Finland who has long traditions of designing and implementing development co-operation policies has lately shown active interest in Estonia's activity in this field.
"Unfortunately, in Estonia's case the will is much greater than the opportunities," the Foreign Minister admitted, noting that the priority of the Baltic State's development co-operation programme is at present sharing its reform experience with South Caucasian countries and East and Southeast European states.
The Ministers discussed co-operation opportunities in implementing joint development aid projects in third countries.
As Ojuland sees it, Estonia and Finland could co-operate in spheres such as information society development, environmental protection, modernization of the education system and strengthening of civic society.
"I believe that by sharing responsibility and combining resources, we can be of even greater assistance," she said, adding that Estonia already has experience of successful participation in three-way projects with Britain and Canada.
Ojuland also pointed out that Estonia attaches great importance to helping kindred nations in Russia. "In this, we also see an excellent opportunity for co-operation with Finland," she said.

Estonian government approves priorities for EU's Luxembourg Presidency

Jan 20
- The government approved Estonia's priorities for the Luxembourg Presidency of the European Union.
Estonia intends to focus on improving the EU's competitiveness and protecting its interests in EU funding questions, the State Chancellery's EU information said.
Estonia finds that raising the competitiveness of the union requires first and foremost clearer formulation and more active implementation of the goals of the Lisbon strategy, and development of the internal market.
The central subject in EU finances is the financial perspective, the budget framework for 2007-2013, which Estonia finds must take into consideration the interests of the new member states and their regions.
The government has set itself the aim of increasing the freedom of movement and security, and promoting the EU's relations with Russia and other neighbouring states.

Estonia confirms readiness to be part of EU's Nordic battle group

Jan 21
- Attending a meeting of Defence Forces commanders of the Nordic and Baltic countries in Stockholm, Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces Rear Adm. Tarmo Kõuts said Estonia wished to be part of the Nordic battle group now under formation.
Sweden as the potential steering country presented the Defence force chiefs with an overview of the preparations for the creation of the battle group. The Nordic battle group must be ready for deployment starting from 2008.
"It is very important to meet face to face with the Commanders of the Defence Forces of the Nordic and Baltic countries to discuss topical matters of national defence which concern us all," Kõuts said. The Commanders of the National Defence Forces agreed that the next meeting on that level would be held in Denmark at the beginning of next year.
Denmark currently has about 1 000 troops on international missions, Finland has 900, Estonia 179, Latvia 140, Lithuania 150 and Sweden 800.

Estonia and Finland to begin exchanging population register data

Jan 18
- Representatives of the Estonian and Finnish Interior Ministries signed an agreement on co-operation between the population registers in Helsinki.
The framework accord regulates exchange and processing of information and data protection. More detailed regulation of information exchanges will improve the quality of population register data, and give Estonia and Finland a better overview of their citizens' involvement in events in the neighbouring country.
The co-operation agreement regulates for instance the exchange of information about births, deaths and marriages concerning Estonian nationals registered as residents of Finland and vice versa.

Estonia appoints new envoy to the United Nations

Jan 17
- Estonian Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Political Affairs Tiina Intelmann has been appointed as the new Ambassador to the United Nations. President Arnold Rüütel endorsed the appointment of Intelmann last week.
Jaak Jõerüüt, who represented Estonia at the international organization before, became Defence Minister in November 2004.

Estonia appoints first-ever Ambassador to Macedonia

Jan 17
- Estonian Ambassador to Poland Aivo Orav has been appointed Estonia's first-ever envoy to Macedonia. President Arnold Rüütel appointed Orav extraordinary and plenipotentiary Ambassador to Macedonia. The Ambassador resides in the Polish capital Warsaw. He also represents Estonia in Romania and Bulgaria.

Estonia appoints new Defence Attaché to Sweden, Finland

Jan 19
- Estonia's new Defence Attaché in Sweden and Finland is Maj. Ando Kergand. Kergand will replace Maj. Jaanus Elvre in this position.
The replacement ceremony at which Elvre will hand over his duties to Kergand took place in Stockholm and will take place in Helsinki next week.
Estonia has in all eight Defence Attachés covering the United States and Canada, Denmark and Norway, the other Baltic states, Britain, and Russia and Ukraine, among others.


More than 9 700 people passed the official language exam in Estonia in 2004

Jan 19
- A total of 9 718 people passed a proficiency level Estonian language examination in 2004.
Growth was recorded at the elementary level. This could be attributed to the fact that one has to pass the elementary level exam in order to gain citizenship through naturalization.


Estonian construction price index up 6.5 per cent on year

Jan 20
- The Estonian construction price index climbed 1.3 per cent in Q4 compared to Q4 2003. Overall the index rose by 6.5 per cent last year compared to the previous year.
In Q4, the construction price index was affected the most by the rising prices of labour and building materials, the Statistical Office reported, while the yearly index was influenced above all by more expensive labour.

December producer price index up 0.3 per cent in Estonia

Jan 20
- The producer price index was 0.3 per cent higher in December than in November and 3.9 per cent higher than in December 2003.
The producer price index was effected the most in December compared to November by a higher than average rise in the production of groceries, rubber and plastic products, and a fall in the production of textiles and textile products, the Statistical Office reported.

Tallinn is the third largest Baltic cruise port

Jan 20
- Tallinn was the third largest cruise port after St. Petersburg and Copenhagen in the last season according to the number of ships calling at the port.
According to Cruise Europe statistics 303 cruise ships with 252 553 passengers called at St. Petersburg last season. Copenhagen received 264 ships with 320 000 tourists during the season.
The number of ships calling at Tallinn during the last season was 232 with 205 578 passengers.

Currency Rates in Kroons
January 23, 2005

British pound - GBP - 22.416
Canadian dollar - CAD - 9.818
Swiss franc - CHF - 10.123
Danish krone - DKK - 2.103
Japanese yen - JPY - 0.116
Latvian lat - LVL - 22.476
Lithuanian lit - LTL - 4.532
Norwegian krone - NOK - 1.908
Russian rouble - RUB - 0.428
Swedish krona - SEK - 1.729
US dollar - USD - 12.037
Euro - EUR - 15.646


Joint exhibition of Estonian and Danish graphics artists

Jan 21
- An art exhibition is taking place at the Estonian Embassy in Copenhagen. The artists from Estonia include Inga Heamägi, Eve Kask, Lembe Ruben, Vive Tolli, Evi Tihemets, Kelli Kagovere, Urmas Viik, Marje Üksine, Maria-Kristiina Ulas, Andres Tali, Naima Neidre, Anu Kalm and Illimar Paul. The Danish artists include Leif Lemmiche, Gorm Spaabæk, Ove Bering, Per Børge Maltesen, Lars Pedersen, Mogens Stenderup Larsen, Anne Nørgaard, Lene Palm Larsen and Carsten Carstensen Dolberg. The exhibition will be open until 1 March..

Exhibiton of Imat Suumann's paintings in Helsinki

Jan 21
- Imat Suumann's paintings depict the aesthetics of the night. The artist's ideal night painting would be completely black. Only the pure night, but that is impossible. The exhibition is open until the end of January and it can be visited during the working week between the 12.00 and 15.00. The exhibition is displayed at the Estonian Embassy at Itäinen Puistotie 10, Helsinki.

Exhibition of photographs in Berlin "Bitte lächeln, Aufnahme!"

Jan 21
- The exhibition is compiled of the works of artists from the ten new member states. Estonia is represented by Mart Viljus. The exhibition is on display at the Martin-Gropius-Bau at Niederkirchnerstrasse 7 | Ecke Stresemannstrasse 110 in Berlin and will be open until 14 February.

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