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Estonian Review: June 7-13, 2006

16.06.2006

ESTONIA RECOGNIZED MONTENEGRO
FOREIGN NEWS
DEFENCE NEWS
DOMESTIC NEWS
ECONOMIC NEWS
MISC


New information sheets! Population Statistics and Population by Nationality



ESTONIA RECOGNIZED MONTENEGRO

Estonia Recognized the Independence of Montenegro

Jun 12
- Estonian Government decided to recognize Montenegro at an extraordinary session on Friday, June 9. EU foreign ministers recognized the independence of Montenegro with the conclusions adopted at the GAERC meeting in Luxembourg.
According to Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet the EU and its member states have decided to develop further their relations with the Republic of Montenegro as a sovereign, independent State. "We hope that the dialogue between Montenegro and Serbia to dissolve the State Union will proceed amicably and constructively, and a solution acceptable to both sides will be reached," Paet emphasized. The Foreign Minister added that Estonia sees the European perspective as the only future prospect for both, Montenegro and Serbia. 2It is important to bring both countries closer to Europe," he said. Estonian Foreign Minister confirmed that Estonia is going to nominate a non-residing ambassador to Montenegro in the very near future.


Estonia and Montenegro Established Diplomatic Relations

Jun 13
- Director General of the Political Department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Karin Jaani and Foreign Minister of Montenegro Miodrag Vlahović signed a Joint Communiqué thus establishing diplomatic relations between the Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Montenegro in Podgorica.
Foreign Minister Miodrag Vlahović said after the ceremony that Estonia has made an historical step being the first country to establish diplomatic relations with independent Montenegro. "We will always remember and highly appreciate the gesture of Estonian Government," said Vlahović.
According to Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet the Western Balkans need positive messages and good examples, as it is in the interest of all Europe that Montenegro would be successful in carrying out reforms and moving towards the EU.
Karin Jaani affirmed in her conversation with Foreign Minister Vlahović that Estonia is interested in active development of the bilateral relations and supports Montenegro's European aspirations.
Montenegro is the 144th country Estonia has established diplomatic relations with.



FOREIGN NEWS

Estonian Permanent Representative Elected Chair of UN GA Committee

Jun 9
- The General Assembly of the United Nations elected Tiina Intelmann, the Estonian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Chair of the 2nd Committee of the General Assembly.
Intelmann's mandate will become valid from the opening of the 61st session in mid-September. She was elected to the Committee as Representative of the East-European countries. The competence of the 2nd committee covers economic, social, development and humanitarian issues. As Chair of the Committee Intelmann will also be member of the General Committee that draws up and endorses agendas of the General Assembly. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said such a high and responsible post in the United Nations system was very positive for Estonia. "Estonia has decided to actively participate in the work of the UN and find our very own niche," Paet said. "Election of the Estonian Ambassador to a leading body of the General Assembly shows that Estonia's contribution and devotion is being appreciated," he added. Tiina Intelmann is the Estonian Permanent Representative at the United Nations since last March. Estonia has decided to run for the membership of the two main bodies of the United Nations, the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council, respectively for the years 2009-2011 and 2020-2021. Estonia has also stated its wish to run for membership of the UN Human Rights Council in 2012-2015. This April UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan nominated Mati Raidma, Director General of the Estonian Rescue Board, as stand-in member of the Council of the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund.
Estonia in the United Nations


Estonia Prepared to Invest into Northern Dimension

Jun 9
- Estonia is prepared to invest into concrete Northern Dimension projects both with knowhow and in financial terms, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said at a conference on the Nordic Dimension, jointly organized by the Estonian and Finnish Foreign Ministries and the Estonian representation of the European Commission in Tallinn.
The topic of the conference was the renewing concept of the EU Northern Dimension and opportunities of cooperation between partner countries.
Paet said that the aim of the conference was to fix the present status of the Northern Dimension and make plans for its further development.
The Estonian foreign minister said that in his opinion the Northern Dimension was a continuously strengthening form of cooperation between Northern and North-western Europe in which also North-western Russia was taking part and where hopefully also Norway and Iceland, countries not belonging to the European Union, would be involved.
Paet mentioned environmental issues and infrastructure projects, as well as fight against human trafficking, drugs and HIV/AIDS as the main cooperation areas of the Northern Dimension.
Paet stressed that Estonia was ready to invest both knowhow, skills as well as in financial terms into the Northern Dimension. He specified that it was still early to speak about concrete sums but Estonia's financial contribution would be mainly on the basis of projects.
Speech by FM Urmas Paet
Speech by Finnish FM Erkki Tuomioja


Estonian and Finnish FMs Discussed EU Northern Dimension

Jun 9
- In the sidelines of the EU Northern Dimension conference that took place in Tallinn Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met with his Finnish colleague Erkki Tuomioja.
The Foreign Ministry said the meeting focused on Estonian-Finnish cooperation, EU issues and Finland's preparations to the EU presidency.
The Estonian and Finnish ministers discussed opportunities of wider propagation of the Northern Dimension. They supported the Spanish foreign minister's proposal to organize next year's seminars where Southern members of the EU would be informed about policies of the Northern Dimension while Northern members of the EU would be briefed about developments of the Barcelona process.
Paet said organization of such seminars would contribute to finding common interests within the framework of two major initiatives of the EU.
The Estonian and Finnish foreign ministers also exchanged ideas about the situation in Kosovo. Paet stressed that the future status of Kosovo must be in line with the European perspective given to the whole Western Balkan area.
"This would mean an increased role of the EU in Kosovo, in our vision above all in the police and justice spheres and in the implementation of economic reforms," Paet said. "Presence of the international community in Kosovo is still important in order to ensure protection of ethnic minorities and observation of principles of the law-governed state."
The ministers emphasized that although the talks would not proceed without complications a solution to the Kosovo problem would have to be found.
Paet and Tuomioja also spoke about the EU visa policy and found that a rise in the visa fees was justified and inevitable after the adoption of the new technology grounding security risks.
Foreign Minister Paet considered important that the principle that visa fees could be reduced or dropped for citizens of certain third countries is included in the decision on raising the visa fees.
"In our opinion such a decision encourages both countries involved in the European neighbourhood policy as well as countries with the European perspective to start talks on the facilitation of visa regulations soon and conclude them in good time; it will also be an additional stimulus for the signing of readmission agreements," Paet said.
The minister said that this would promote and deepen contacts between people and contribute to the development of the above countries.


Estonia and Latvia to Work Closely in Vying for Positions in the International Organizations

Jun 8
- Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Latvian Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks, meeting in the border town of Valga, agreed on cooperation between the two countries in vying for membership in international organizations.
According to the Ministers also Lithuania should be involved in that cooperation.
Paet said such cooperation was good for all parties, since if the countries were running against each other the chances of each of them would be undermined. In reality this kind of cooperation already exists, as in the election of the UNESCO Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage Estonia is the common candidate of all the three Baltic countries.
The Ministers also met with the leaders of the local governments of the twin border towns of Valga-Valka to look at projects of cross-border cooperation.


PM: Maritime Safety on the Baltic Sea is the Responsibility of all Countries in the Region

June 8
- At the meeting between the Heads of the Governments of the Baltic Sea Countries, held in Iceland, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip emphasized the need for all countries in the region to pay more attention to maritime safety.
“Although the condition of the natural environment of the countries located in the Baltic Sea region has significantly improved over the past 10-15 years, the rapidly increasing oil tanker traffic is a source of concern. The use of dangerous single hull tankers should definitely be banned by all of the countries in the region,” said Andrus Ansip.
The Prime Minister pointed out in his speech, as examples, two recent instances of oil pollution near the Estonian coast, which were very serious in their scope, but which could not be compared to the potential natural disaster caused by a major tanker sailing on the Baltic Sea.
"Efficient steps have been taken to reduce such dangers - Estonia, Finland and Russia monitor all of the larger ships on the Finnish Gulf through the collectively used GOFREP system. That is a good start, but it is far from being sufficient enough to let us feel safe about petroleum transit on the Baltic Sea," said Andrus Ansip.
In relation to the economic cooperation in the region, Ansip emphasized the need to simplify various restrictions impeding cooperation and trade.
"Already six years ago, the members of the organisation set as their goal to cut the time spent on crossing the border to a maximum of two hours.
Unfortunately, the set goal has remained only declarative to date, regardless of the fact that it directly affects the competitive capacity of the entire Baltic Sea region.
Regional cooperation cannot be a substitute for the economic policy of the states, but instead allows for attracting new investments and offering added value to companies," said Andrus Ansip.
Estonia sees the greatest advantages of the activities of the Council of the Baltic Sea States to be its flexible and informal operation. Instead of copying the activities of the European Union, OSCE or the Council of Europe, the Council of the Baltic Sea States must, above all, focus on issues presuming regional solutions.


Parliament Panel Wishes Estonia to House Finno-Ugric Centre

Jun 13
- The parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee has expressed support for the idea to set up in Estonia an international interdisciplinary Finno-Ugric institute or European Finno-Ugric Centre.
The Foreign Affairs Committee has discussed the situation of Russia's Finno-Ugric people and ways how Estonia could support the kindred peoples at six meetings during last year's autumn and this year's spring session.
The Committee's position is that Estonia has to express its support for Finno-Ugric people of Russia more forcefully and give stronger support to activities aimed at protecting their language and culture.
One way to go about raising Finno-Ugrians' self-consciousness is to distribute more broadly information about their linguistic and cultural heritage and draw constantly attention to the danger of the extinction of those peoples and their cultures at international political forums, the panel found.
Parliamentary diplomacy conducted via various interparliamentary institutions and the cooperation of the Estonian, Finnish and Hungarian legislatures is of essence in such work.
It is important to find ways to deepen cooperation between the European Union's Finno-Ugric member nations, that is Estonia, Finland and Hungary, and Russia to coordinate and implement through joint efforts state programs devised to help kindred peoples, the committee says.
The panel firmly backs the implementation of Estonia's state program in support of the languages and cultures of Finno-Ugric and Samoyed peoples for the 2005-09 period but points out that it is imperative to significantly increase its funding and improve coordinating of the initiatives in this field if its objectives are to be achieved.
Taking into account the Finno-Ugric information centre's experience of disseminating information relating to Finno-Ugric studies and forging academic ties, the committee backs the establishment of a European Finno-Ugric Centre in Estonia as the three nations' joint contribution.


Estonian and Russian Border Guards Satisfied with Cooperation

Jun 8
- The Estonian-Russian standing working group on border guard cooperation found during a meeting in South Estonia that cooperation between the border guard services has helped to reduce the number of potential violations and ensure a stable situation at checkpoints.
Members of both delegations said joint activity at border checkpoints met the expectations and needs of both sides and that remarkable success had been achieved thanks to such cooperation.
The parties spoke about cooperation at border checkpoints and measures to increase the efficiency of the fight against cross-border crime and illegal immigration.
Also discussed was joint activity by Estonia and Russia in guarding the border on sea, on lakes and rivers during the current navigation season.
The standing work group for border guard cooperation, set up under a protocol of cooperation between the border guard services of the two countries, meets four times a year - twice in Estonian territory and twice in the territory of Russia. The next meeting will take place in Russia in October.


President Appointed Six New Ambassadors

Jun 13
- Estonian President Arnold Rüütel appointed six new Ambassadors and recalled their predecessors.
The President appointed Miko Haljas Ambassador to Hungary and Croatia, residing in Budapest, Jaan Hein Ambassador to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, residing in Kiev, and Meelike Palli Ambassador to Denmark. Margus Rava was appointed Ambassador to France and Permanent Representative at UNESCO, Andres Tomasberg was posted to Italy, and Mati Vaarmann became Ambassador to the Czech Republic.
The president recalled Toivo Tasa, Paul Lettens, Taavi Toom, Andres Talvik, Jüri Seilenthal and Eve-Külli Kala who held these positions till now.



DEFENCE NEWS

Estonia Could Contribute Experts to EU's Sea Patrol Mission

Jun 13
- The Estonian border service could contribute experts to a mission aimed at helping Spain and Malta stop African illegal immigrants from reaching the European Union.
The border service is ready to respond to the European agency Frontex's appeal and join the mission at the level of experts, spokespeople for the Border Guard Board said, adding that Estonia's possible participation in the mission is being clarified and should be determined at the end of this month.
The European border agency pledged at the end of May 2.1 million Euros to help Spain and Malta stem the flow of illegal immigrants from Africa.


New Estonian Units Headed for Balkans

Jun 12
- Main groups of two Estonian peacekeeping units serving in the Balkans flew to the mission area; advance teams arrived in the area last week.
ESTGUARD-2 consisting of 28 men is under the command of Lt. Riivo Piirson and the chief of the 22-strong ESTPATROL-14 is 2nd Lt. Taavi Otsalainen.
The ESTGUARD unit serving under Austrian command in the European Union-led peace enforcement mission Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina is guarding the Tuzla airfield and Camp Eagle, the base of mission units deployed in the area.



DOMESTIC NEWS

Estonian Foundation to Launch Citizenship Course for 10,000

Jun 9
- The Estonian Foundation of the Integration of Non-Estonians will this summer launch a countrywide free course of preparation to the citizenship exam with up to 10,000 applicants in the period up to next autumn.
The course will have nearly 80 attested instructors, and the curricula and study aids have been prepared by the Jaan Tõnisson Institute. The first country-wide course will be free for the participants.
The course will be a part of a project of supporting the integration of stateless persons started last January and to be concluded next year.
The project was commissioned by the State Chancellery and it has the aim of increasing the number of Estonian citizens among people whose nationality is now undefined by raising their awareness of the terms of applying for Estonian citizenship and offering them assistance in preparations for taking the exam on knowledge of the Constitution and of the Citizenship Act.
According to statistics of the Citizenship and Migration Board Estonia had 136,000 residents of undefined citizenship at the beginning of the year.
In all, Estonian citizenship by naturalization has been granted to nearly 141,000 and last November the number of those naturalized surpassed that of persons of undefined citizenship for the first time.


PM: Estonia Must Become One of the World's Development Centres

Jun 13
- Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said the government had set itself the aim of turning Estonia into an attractive innovation environment known throughout the world by 2010.
"Our only choice to achieve ambitious aims is innovation. An attractive innovation environment recognized throughout the world must be created in Estonia by 2010," the head of government said addressing the parliament this morning.
Ansip said that this would mean changes in principle in the structure of the economy, and even more in attitudes and ways of thinking as well as in the politics of science and development activity.
In the years 1998-2004 expenses on scientific and development activity have grown from 451 million to 1,294 million kroons (EUR 82.8 mln), nearly threefold. In 2004 Estonia spent 0.91 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) on scientific and development activity.
Ansip said, however, that the aim of spending 3 percent of GDP on scientific and development activity by 2010, an aim adopted by heads of European governments, was not realistic. It is realistic to achieve that aim by 2014, Ansip said, as the role of the private sector in the financing of development activity must grow much more than it has done by the present, Ansip said.



ECONOMIC NEWS

Currency Rates in Kroons
(Bank of Estonia)


Estonia to let Slovenia Use its VAT Information System

Jun 9
- The Estonian Government decided to give Slovenia the right to use the Estonian Value Added Tax Information Exchange System (VIES) for a symbolic price of one Euro.
Finance Minister Aivar Sõerd explained that Slovenia does not have a system of similar level and therefore it turned to Estonia for help to be able to comply with EU requirements.
"The Slovenians have got familiar with our system and are appreciating it very much. Their finance minister has already filed an application to adopt parts of the VIES," Sõerd said.
Estonia previously has granted the right to use the VIES system devised by the Estonian Tax and Customs Board to the Latvian Tax Board.
In accordance with the government's decision, Slovenia will be able to use the system under a simple license issued for an indefinite period. Slovenia can upgrade the system but not sell or hand it to third parties.
The symbolic price tag of one Euro was needed because the Estonian law on state property doesn't allow giving it away for free.


Revenues of Estonian State Budget EUR 89 mln Higher than Expenses

Jun 13
- The Estonian Finance Ministry said that revenue intake into the state budget in January-May totalled 24.5 billion kroons (EUR 1.56 b), 39.9 percent of the annual revenue target and 1.4 billion kroons higher than the expenses as of the end of May.
Compared with January-May 2005 the intake of the state budget improved by 19.5 percent - the revenue intake by the end of May 2005 was 20.5 billion kroons, the Finance Ministry said.
The state budget's intake in May was about 5.5 billion kroons.
During the five months expenses to the tune of 23.1 billion kroons were financed from the state budget, 37.6 percent of the budgetary target.
Inflow of tax revenue in January-June totalled 19.5 billion kroons, 39.7 percent of the target, of this 4.2 million kroons in May. Compared with last year, inflow of tax revenue has increased by 2.9 billion kroons or 17.6 percent.
The ministry said that very good intake of individuals' income and social tax continued in May, the main reason being favourable developments on the labour market.
The inflow of non-tax revenue totalled 910.2 million kroons in May and 2.3 billion kroons in January-May, amounting to 43.7 percent of the annual target.
The size of the state budget for 2006, including foreign subsidies, is 61.4 billion kroons.


Number of Unemployed Down by One Tenth on Month

Jun 13
- The number of unemployed registered with the Estonian Labour Market Board fell by 10.8 percent by the beginning of June against the beginning of May and by 43.1 percent against the same period last year, to 15,725.
In all the number of registered unemployed makes up 1.9 percent of the Estonian working age population (16 to pension age) the Labour Market Board reported.


Estonia's Tallink Purchased Finland's Silja Line

Jun 12, BNS
- Estonia's Tallink Group confirmed its purchase of Finland's Silja Line. Tallink is planning the issue of new shares to the tune of at least EUR 50 million to the present shareholders.
Estonian Economic Affairs Minister Edgar Savisaar said that by its purchase of the Finnish Silja Line Tallink had made the most resounding deal in Baltic economic history.
Savisaar said that the team headed by Enn Pant, Ain Hanschmidt and Toivo Ninnas had raised the Estonian flag to a place of dignity in the Baltic. The minister said Tallink had walked a self-styled path, surprising the public by a billion kroon (EUR 64 mln) investment or expansion project almost every year.
"In the course of such impressive development Tallink has created thousands of new jobs, made investments of well over ten billion kroons, and has brought millions of passengers to Estonia," the minister said.



MISC

Survey - Support for Estonia's EU Membership at 62 pct

Jun 13
- Estonia's membership in the European Union is backed by 62 percent and opposed by 30 percent of the country's population, a survey by TNS Emor showed.
The study revealed that 42 percent of Estonians aged 15-74 have a firm opinion on the EU, with 30 percent of them backing and 12 percent opposing membership.
Half the population is of two minds - 32 percent rather support and 18 percent rather do not support membership, the State Chancellery reported.
Supporters of the EU are mostly found among the highly educated and well-to-do people who live in the capital Tallinn or other larger cities.


Dutch Foreign Ministry Expressed Regret Over Ambassador's Departure

Jun 13
- Both Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot and his Estonian counterpart, Urmas Paet, expressed in a conversation in Luxembourg regret over the leaving of Dutch Ambassador to Estonia Hans Glaubitz amid a blaze of publicity related to discriminative issues.
"The Dutch foreign minister regards the case as regrettable," Paet said. In his words, his Dutch colleague agreed that the open letter by Glaubitz and its publication in the press was "not a wise thing to do."
In Paet's view, the manner in which these things surfaced can in no way be considered proper. He pointed out that the Ambassador had not once informed the Estonian authorities of such incidents or made any complaints.
"When problems arose the Foreign Ministry and the police ought to have been notified of them immediately. And if there were isolated cases (of harassment on discriminative grounds), it is far from correct to draw major conclusions about our whole society on their basis," Paet said.
The minister gave however assurances that the Glaubitz case had not undermined the official relations between Estonia and the Netherlands as neither the Dutch Foreign Ministry nor the ambassador himself had any complaints against Estonia.
"It is a different matter how the Dutch are going to take to heart the press coverage which was in some respects very tendentious and showed us in a bad light," Paet said.


Day of Finland to Take Place in Estonian Capital

Jun 12
- To mark Finland's assuming the rotating presidency of the European Union for the next six months on July 1, a Day of Finland will be held in the capital city of the neighbouring Estonia. The Day of Finland on July 1 will feature numerous events in the medieval Old Town of Tallinn. A Finnish village, to be built in Harju Street, will present the Nordic country's cities, festivals and companies, and provide information about work and travel opportunities.





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