Estonian Review: August 29-September 4, 2005




Estonia is supportive of the further enlargement of the European Union

Sept 1
- On Thursday, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet participated in the Gymnich meeting of the European Union Foreign Ministers in Newport, Wales. During the afternoon working session, EU enlargement, first and foremost the start of accession negotiations with Croatia and Turkey was under discussion.
According to Foreign Minister, Paet, the enlargement of the European Union has to continue according to plans. "The prospect of accession to the European Union motivates each country to introduce reforms. In turn, the preservation of that motivating factor enlarges the stable region in Europe as well as around it," Paet said.
In the case of Croatia, EU foreign policy leaders decided to wait for a judgment from Carla del Ponte, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for the opinion of the task force created for better observing of the European Union-Croatia co-operation this year in September.
At the meeting, Foreign Minister, Paet reiterated Estonia's position that the start of accession negotiations with Croatia would serve as a reassuring signal for the whole of the Western Balkans and increase stability in that region. "We find that Croatia has made serious efforts for the improvement of co-operation with the ICTY and hope that accession negotiations can soon begin," Paet said.
The EU Foreign Ministers confirmed the decision made at the two previous European Councils to start accession negotiations with Turkey on 3 October 2005. A great number of member states underlined the strategic importance of Turkey to the European Union. Meanwhile, Turkey must ensure the full implementation of the Adaptation Protocol of the Ankara Agreement in relation to all European Union Member States, including Cyprus.
According to Foreign Minister Paet, Estonia is supportive of the planned start of accession negotiations with Turkey. "In the course of negotiations a solution to the problem of the recognition of Cyprus must also arise," Paet noted.

The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to send a short-term consular mission to Venezuela

Sept 2
- On the part of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Signe Matteus, the Councillor from Estonia's head consulate in New York will, when needed offer consular support at the Estonian Honorary Consulate in Valencia, Venezuela, beginning 15 October 2005 and lasting until 22 October 2006.
The Republic of Estonia has no diplomatic representation in Venezuela. Honorary Councillor, Arne Roostna, on the other hand represents Estonia in Venezuela.
In accordance with the Consular Law, a consular official can offer consular support in a foreign country without diplomatic representation only upon approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Short-term missions are upheld by international conventions established in Vienna and are fully in accordance to the guidelines for consular relations.
Missions are sent to countries where Estonia lacks foreign representation. Such missions take place when there is a need for consular activities, for example, if there is a large Estonian community present. Nevertheless, it must be taken into account that a consular official lacks authority to carry through many of the consular duties, given the short-term nature of such a mission.
Up to the present there have been consular missions to the Estonian Republic's Honorary Consulate in Sao Paolo, Brazil (12-19 March) and the Estonian Honorary Consulate in Sydney, Australia (31 May - 9 June).
Beginning on 1 May 2004, the EU's unified principle of consular support was expanded to citizens of the Republic of Estonia, which means that when visiting a country outside of the European Union Estonian citizens can turn to any Consulate of a EU nation for support. Consular support, first and foremost means the need for unconditional help. Under the established framework for unified cooperation in the EU it isn't possible to offer all of the Consular services, but those, which are absolutely necessary.

Estonian Defence forces commander attends session of NATO Military Committee

Sep 01
- Commander of the Estonian defence forces, Vice Administrator, Tarmo Kõuts was at a session of the NATO Military Committee in the Netherlands on September 2-4, where the future development of NATO's rapid reaction forces was discussed. The discussion also included issues connected with the contributions of the NATO member countries units and extension of the Afghanistan ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission of the alliance.
The Military Committee is the highest military directing body of the alliance.
The NATO Response Force (NRF) was set up in 2003 as a unit combining the naval, ground and air capabilities to carry out tasks of the North Atlantic Council. The NATO Response Force is an umbrella for elite units that can be dispatched within five days to perform military duties in different parts of the world.
The number of NRF personnel is currently at 17,000. It is to achieve full capacity by next fall, when it will swell to 21,000 men.
The NATO mine-hunting group has been apart of the naval component of NRF since the beginning of this year. It must be ready at short notice to perform duties in different parts of the world.
The Admiral Pitka, flagship of the Estonian Navy acceded to the NATO Response Force as of May 12, 2005, embarking on a ten-month long mission. The NATO mine-hunting group serves on board the Admiral Pitka, where it is headquartered. It organizes logistic support for the whole unit, including its supply of fuel, water and communications capability.
The Estonian defence forces units serving in Afghanistan includes: a mobile observation team of the Estonian defence forces, an ordnance clearing team, a platform team at Kabul airport and staff officers in Afghanistan in the composition of the ISAF.


Paet discussed issues related to Russia and Iran with his EU colleagues

Sept 1
- On Thursday, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet participated in the European Union Foreign Ministers meeting in Newport, Wales. During the working luncheon the EU Foreign Ministers discussed issues related to Russia and Iran. Speaking on Russia the EU foreign policy leaders shared the opinion that common values must be a basis of relations. Foreign Minister Paet underlined that the EU's policy towards Russia must be developed jointly and must be carried through in a unified manner. "This policy has to base itself upon common values, especially since from time to time Russia has tried to play off one member state against the other," Paet said.
Estonia's Foreign Minister made special note to the rise of xenophobia and anti-Semitism. "In Russia there are seven registered political parties, who openly propagate xenophobia and racism. There are more than 200 extremist and neo-Nazi organisations in Russia causing concern," Paet acknowledged.
For instance, Estonia is alarmed by the difficult situation of Finno-Ugric people living in Russia. "The possibilities to receive an education in their mother-tongues are diminishing and the authorities have repulsive attitudes towards the fostering of their cultures. The recent developments in Mari EL are especially serious," Paet noted.
In the opinion of the Estonian Foreign Minister, co-operation should be developed with the Russian authorities in order to combat those tendencies. "Estonia is willing to see an honest and open dialogue on the topic of human rights of ethnic minorities as a substantial part of relations between the EU and Russia," Paet underlined.
In the case of Iran, the EU Foreign Ministers acknowledged that the countries of the world should unite in their attitude towards Iran's nuclear ambitions to prevent Iran from becoming a country possessing nuclear weapons. The EU-US co-operation over the issue of Iran is of great importance, as well as the support from other countries. In view of the nuclear program, Iran has to observe its international obligations and continue its co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA, according to Paet. "To win the confidence of the international public Iran has to observe the agreements concluded and its nuclear program must be transparent," Paet said.

OSCE activities directed at Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova are of primary importance to Estonia

31 August
- On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met with President of the Parliamentary Assembly for the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe, (OSCE) Alcee L. Hastings.
At the meeting, the future activities of the OSCE, as well as Estonia's goals in that organisation were under discussion.
According to Foreign Minister Urmas Paet the OSCE is a very important forum for international regional co-operation. "In our opinion the strength of the OSCE lies in the promotion of human rights as well as democracy. The activity in those fields must go on," said Paet.
In the framework of the OSCE, the activities directed at Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova are of primary importance, according to the assessment of Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, since those countries have expressed their wish to observe democratic principles and Estonia has shared its experience of reform with those countries.
President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Hastings showed interest towards Estonia's position concerning events in Belarus. Foreign Minister, Paet emphasised the importance for the presence of international organisations, including the OSCE in Belarus. "That enables us to get direct information about what is going on in Belarus and at the same time offers an opportunity to adequately mediate information to the Belarusians about what is going on in the world," Paet said.

Estonian ambassador to Poland handed over his credentials

Sept 2
- On Friday, Estonian Ambassador to Poland presented his credentials to the president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski.
In the ceremony exceeding the handover of the credentials, president Kwasniewski and Ambassador Frosch, remarked on the possibilities for further cooperation and strengthening of relations between the two countries. President Kwasniewski put special emphasis on the superb nature of bi-lateral relations and reflected back upon his recent visit to Estonia, in which he was particularly fond of Saaremaa. Ambassador, Ants Frosch thanked Poland for support regarding the Estonian-Russian border issue and noted the important role Poland plays in backing NATO's security of Baltic airspace. President Kwasniewski continually confirmed his support for a resolution of Estonia's border issues with Russia and expressed hope that the European Union would have positive influence in that area. Both sides also discussed a number of other issues related to foreign policy.
Ants Frosch was born on 20 August 1959 in Põlva. In 1986 he finished his legal studies at the University of Tartu cum laude. Frosch has been a member of the Estonian bar association since 1986. He worked as a lawyer in Tartu until 1991. From 1991 to 1994, he was a director in the State Chancellery information service. From 1994-1999, Ants Frosch was Chief Director of the Republic of Estonia's Information Service.
Frosch began his diplomatic career beginning in 1999, and until 2003; he was Estonia's permanent representative in the Council of Europe in Stasbourg. Following this, he worked as chief director for the Foreign Ministry's 2nd Political department, before being named ambassador to Poland. Ants Frosch is married and has one child.

Estonia is interested in a long-term stability in the Western Balkans

Sept 2
- On Friday a non-official summit between European Foreign Ministers continued in Newport, Wales. Foreign Minister, Urmas Paet also took part in it. Topics of discussion during the morning working session had to do first and foremost with the Western Balkans region, most specifically around issues concerning Kosovo, the bird flu, illegal immigration in the Mediterranean region and international arms smuggling.
EU foreign ministers stressed the importance of developing a perspective strategy for the region. They found that development in the Western Balkans has been relatively successful and it should continue in this manner, with little chance of any setbacks. The leaders of Europe's foreign relations emphasized the continued importance of contributions from European nations as well as the importance of cooperation with the USA over finding solutions to the problems that the Western Balkans face. The ministers agreed that the start of talks over the status of Kosovo should begin as soon as possible.
According to the words of Foreign Minster, Urmas Paet, Estonia is interested in long-term stability in the Western Balkans and supports their European outlook. At the same time Paet emphasized that the possible accession of these countries to the EU, depends on the speed and effectiveness of reforms. Keeping this in mind, Estonia supports upholding the principles of individual equality. The principles of the rule of law and the guarantee of continued reforms, with the focus on democratic values are very important, especially in the Western Balkans, says Paet.
Regarding Kosovo, the Estonian Foreign Minister noticed that its status is extremely important to the region as a whole. “If we wish to achieve stability and development in the Balkans, then we must grapple with solving future issues there, says Paet. “When determining Kosovo's future, we have to take into account continued international presence, to insure the protection of ethnic minorities and police - the functioning of the legal system is also important,” added Paet.
The EU Foreign Ministers' meeting will continue with a luncheon, where topics on the Middle East shall be discussed


ESTPLA-11 returns from Iraq for vacation in Estonia

Aug 29
- On Monday, the Estonian light infantry platoon, Estpla-11 returned from Iraq for a two-week vacation in Estonia, the defence forces headquarters reported. During the past month the platoon has taken part in 13 search and reconnaissance operations of different durations and performed three patrols. Furthermore, Estonian soldiers have been involved in escorting, providing security and in the guarding of different sites. Under the command of Capt. Sergei Guselnikov, Estpla-11 began its six-month service in Iraq last June. The platoon is made up of 34 members. Aarne Ermus is the Head of the Estonian contingent in Iraq, who serves as deputy head of the NATO training mission headquarters.


Estonian Supreme Court: Amendment on E-voting is Constitutional

Sep 01
- The Estonian Supreme Court did not find that the amendment, giving electors the right to change their electronic vote during preliminary voting in the forthcoming local elections, is in contradiction with the Constitution.
The Constitutional College of the Supreme Court discussed the e-voting act which the president had refused to promulgate on the basis of the president's own application. President Arnold Rüütel asked that the Supreme Court declare the "Act on Amendment of the Local Government Council Election Act" as being in contradiction with the Constitution.
The amendment, which the parliament passed on June 28, permits electors to change their electronic vote a countless number of times during the preliminary election. In the application to the Supreme Court, the president found that the principle of uniformity in ensuring the right of elections stipulated in the Constitution presumed that every person entitled to vote would only have one vote and everybody was given the opportunity to elect in a similar way. The Supreme Court found that in case of repeated voting the vote given earlier is cancelled and therefore, despite repeated electronic voting, no elector has any possibility of influencing the election results more than electors, using other methods of voting.
"A vote given electronically will be counted as one vote and will in no way be more influential then the votes given by voters using other methods of voting," the Supreme Court said.
Besides, the college said, adoption of electronic voting without permitting change of the electronically given vote could endanger the principles of freedom of elections and secrecy of voting.
According to Urmas Reinsalu, Chairman of the parliament's legal committee. "It is good that the Supreme Court made the decision without delay. The e-election can now come safely in legal terms."
Mihkel Pilving, Head of the Secretariat of the Central Electoral Committee said that the committee would meet on Friday and the regulations on the organization of the voting and establishment of the electoral results could be put to the third reading there.
"Preparations for the elections have been going on all the time, and we now know exactly what to do and how to do it," he added, stating that the electronic system necessary for the organization of e-elections was ready.
The president also turned to the Supreme Court in connection with the act permitting members of parliament to belong to local councils.


Construction in Estonia continued on fast growth track in second quarter

Aug 29
- Production by Estonian construction companies at home and in foreign countries in the second quarter of 2005 grew by 16 percent over the same period last year, including a 14 percent increase in the domestic market, the Statistical Office said.
The production value of construction amounted to 5.5 billion kroons (EUR 351 mln) during the April-June period.
The production value of building construction was 3.7 billion kroons while production value in civil engineering totalled 1.8 billion kroons, an increase. The increase was 22 percent and 5 percent respectively, over the second quarter of 2004.
Although the volume of construction by Estonian companies in foreign countries has been showing a growth trend lately, its share in the total construction volume is quite small. The volume of construction abroad increased by more than 50 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
According to data from the Construction Works Register, the number of dwelling completions in the second quarter was 1,095, which is 407 more than in the same period last year.
The majority of the completed dwellings are situated in blocks of flats. Demand for new dwellings meanwhile continues. In the course of the second quarter, 3,321 building permits were issued for the construction of dwellings.
The useful floor area of completed non-residential buildings decreased by more than a third compared to the second quarter of 2004.

Estonia's industrial output for July grew 11 percent on the year

Aug 31
- Output by Estonia's industrial enterprises in July increased 11 percent in comparison to July 2004, the Statistical Office said. The annual growth-rate was 11 percent for industry as a whole and 10 percent in the manufacturing sector. Compared to June, seasonally adjusted industrial production in Estonia increased 3 percent.
The biggest annual increase was recorded in the mining sector -- 45.4 percent. Mining output grew 17.5 percent in comparison to June figures. In the manufacturing sector, textile industry suffered the steepest decline, with output falling 23.7 percent year on year and 3.1 percent month on month.
Manufacture of electrical machinery declined 8.9 percent from June but saw a nearly 40 percent growth over July 2004. The growth in manufacturing production was mainly the result of an increase in the manufacture of food, wood, and metal products, the Statistical Office said. Production of electricity decreased 5 percent from July 2004 while production of heat increased 2 percent.

Jan-July production of electricity down 8.2 percent on the year

Aug 31
- Production of electricity in Estonia in the first seven months of this year decreased 8.2 percent in comparison to the same period in 2004, the Statistical Office said. Production of electric energy in July decreased 5.3 percent from July 2004, and 5.2 percent from June 2005. Because of decreased exports, 28 percent less electric energy was generated in Estonia in June 2005 than in June 2004. Production of thermal energy in the first seven months grew 2.6 percent from January-July 2004. In July compared to the same month a year ago, an increase of two percent was recorded

Currency Rates in Kroons
September 4, 2005

British pound - GBP - 22.884
Canadian dollar - CAD - 10.513
Swiss franc - CHF - 10.143
Danish krone - DKK - 2.098
Japanese yen - JPY - 0.114
Latvian lat - LVL - 22.471
Lithuanian lit - LTL - 4.532
Norwegian krone - NOK - 2.014
Russian rouble - RUB - 0.440
Swedish krona - SEK - 1.685
US dollar - USD - 12.438
Euro - EUR - 15.647


Estonian rowing team wins bronze

Sept 4
- The 4-man rowing team made up of: Andrei Jämsä, Tõnu Endrekson, Leonid Gulov and rowing great, Jüri Jaanson, placed third at the FISA World Rowing Championships in Gifus, Japan. According to final results, the Estonian team finished behind Poland and Slovenia to take the bronze in the Men's Double Sculls.


Estonian chamber choir wins first place at competition in Norway

A Chamber Choir from the University of Tartu, directed by Triin Koch won first place at the International Edvard Grieg Choral Music Competition in Bergen, Norway. This year, for the first time the festival was organized in the hometown of Edvard Grieg. 21 choirs from different European countries participated at the competition. The Chamber Choir from the University of Tartu begins its 35th anniversary season this autumn. Students and alumni from the University of Tartu participate in the choir. Triin Koch has been conducting the choir since 2001.

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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