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Estonian Review: November 7-13, 2005

17.11.2005

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


TOP NEWS

Paet: The European Union's budget will have to be future-orientated

Nov 7 - Foreign Minister Urmas Paet participated in the monthly European Union Foreign Ministers' meeting in Brussels.
At the General Affairs session the foreign ministers discussed the budget framework of the European Union for 2007-2013, over which the British Presidency wishes to reach a final agreement at the European Council scheduled to take place in December. According to the Presidency, three main issues have to be resolved concerning the expenditure structure, the budget update and the build-up of receipts.
According to Paet there are questions left open on all three issues, which need to be further discussed in detail. "If we talk about the structure of spending and modernising the budget, then the budget will have to be future-orientated, not based on historic priorities," the Foreign Minister said. "We cannot get stuck in former understandings, but must consider the changing world," he added.
Speaking about the creation of the Global Adjustment Fund, the Foreign Minister said that a great number of countries have serious doubts that it would help businesses cope with difficulties related to globalization. Estonia is also skeptical whether it is the right solution.
"Based on present information one can say that the creation of such a fund will not help improve the competitive ability of businesses, but rather delay solutions to emerging problems," Paet stated.
According to Paet, concrete sums were not discussed at the meeting, but balance was sought concerning general principles.
Referring to the Doha WTO negotiations, Paet says that it is important to achieve balance between different areas, which means that although at present a lot of attention is devoted to agriculture, it is still important to move on to other topics, such as access to the market for manufactured products, facilitation of trade, and the protection of intellectual property and services. "We cannot only focus on one area, but agreements must be reached in all areas," the Foreign Minister outlined. He added that Estonia supports the European Commission, which has managed to bring the negotiations out of a deadlock and has acted upon its mandate.


EU Foreign Ministers discussed the situation in Belarus

Nov 7 - EU Foreign Ministers started the External Relations session of their monthly meeting with a discussion on the EU’s Belarus policy in view of the upcoming presidential election scheduled for next year. The ministers shared their ideas on how to encourage Belarus to introduce democratic reforms and to co-operate with its international partners.
In his address, Foreign Minister Paet emphasized that the European Union must pay continual attention to developments in Belarus and must do everything possible to help grant the people of Belarus democratic freedoms. "The European Union's policy has to be more visible in Belarus and we have to pay more attention in our support of non-governmental organizations and the independent media," Paet said.
Speaking of the European Union's possible reaction to the Belarusian elections, Paet confirmed that it must be based primarily on the reports of independent observers, having participated in the elections. In case the elections do not conform to internationally accepted norms, an adequate reactionary response is necessary.
"Upon the democratization of Belarus, Ukraine's role will be enhanced as well. Consequently the European Union, U.S. and Ukraine will have to act as co-ordinately as possible in their relationship with Belarus," Foreign Minister Paet noted.


Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation telephoned Estonian Foreign Minister

Nov 11 - Foreign Minister Urmas Paet had a telephone conversation with Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergei Lavrov.
Foreign Minister Lavrov called to express his regrets in connection with the refusal to grant a visa to the Estonian Foreign Minister. According to Foreign Minister Lavrov, the misunderstanding came about due to internal procedures and he affirmed that it was a technical issue, and not political one.
Foreign Minister Paet also expressed his regret over the given situation. "It is unfortunate that we lost a good opportunity to discuss important issues regarding the EU and Russia," said Paet.
The Russian Foreign Minister made a proposal to have a bilateral meeting during the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Summit in Ljubljana on 5-6 December 2005.



FOREIGN NEWS

Croatia seeks Estonia's support in EU accession talks and its aspirations to NATO

Nov 08 - Prime Minister of Croatia, Ivo Sanader was on an official visit to Estonia from 7-8 November. During the visit he met with members of the Estonian Parliament, the President of the Republic and his Estonian colleague, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip. The meeting marked the first occasion at the level of Prime Ministers between the two countries. Sanader also visited the port of Tallinn.
At the meeting with Estonian Parliamentary leaders, Prime Minister Sanader acknowledged that Estonia's support in accession talks with the European Union is very important to Croatia. He added that Croatia wants to follow Estonia's example in negotiations with the bloc so as to be able to take part in the 2009 elections of the European Parliament. "Support from the Baltic States is very important to us," the premier said.
Speaker of the Estonian parliament, Ene Ergma, congratulated Sanader on the beginning of EU entry talks and stressed that this marks serious recognition of Croatia's progress so far. Ergma's suggestion was to put the parliament to work right at the start of accession talks and to immediately begin the harmonization of national legislation with EU law so that the legislature's workload would be smaller when the pre-accession period draws to a close.
The head of the standing Foreign Affairs Committee, Enn Eesmaa underlined the importance of the EU neighbourhood policy and advised Croatia to apply for it too, basing his views on Estonia’s prior experience.
According to Sanader, an international conference on Croatia's future is scheduled to take place in about a month's time. He said he would like to see a representative from Estonia among speakers at the event.
The Croatian prime minister also said he would like to study the work of Estonian negotiators more closely so as to map out his own action plan. The parties found that contacts between the two countries' parliaments need to be boosted and that it would be expedient to forge closer ties between the parliamentary foreign affairs committees.
At the meeting with President Arnold Rüütel, the two addressed the possibilities for intensification of bilateral relations.
President Rüütel underlined the importance for the further intensification of co-operation between the parliaments and the governments of the two countries, but also cited co-operation in other areas, covering a diverse range of fields from economics to science and culture.
The Prime Minister of Croatia thanked Estonia for supporting the commencement of the EU accession negotiations with Croatia and added that the two countries were bound together by mutual sympathy and similar historical experiences. “We would like to catch up with the countries that joined the EU during the last phase of enlargement and become an EU member ourselves. We also ask for Estonia's support in connection with our NATO aspirations,” Prime Minister Sanader said.
Both sides emphasized the importance of co-operation in tourism. Prime Minister Sanader commented on the beauty of Tallinn and Lahemaa National Park and added that Croatia could learn a lot from Estonia’s fast economic growth, marking the 6 percent average annual growth-rate over the past ten-years, and adding that Estonia has managed to maintain a balanced budget and a low level of foreign debt.


Paet: Estonian - Swiss relations could be more frequent

Nov 11 - Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met with representatives from the Swiss parliamentary bloc "Pro Balticum."
Foreign minister Urmas Paet thanked the parliamentary bloc "Pro Balticum" for its support from years past. The Foreign Minister confirmed that Estonian – Swiss relations are at a very good standing, noting that at the same time political contacts during the past two years have decreased somewhat. "Relations between the two countries could be more frequent," says Paet. "More visits would give the opportunity to refresh contacts and also intensify relations," added Paet. According to the Foreign Minister's words, the decision by the Swiss side to open an embassy in Tallinn is gratifying.
Foreign Minister Paet highly rated the Swiss decision to give new European Union member states financial backing. "We are at the position that financial donations should be aimed towards the new members of the union and within an economic and social context," said Paet.
In the EU - Swiss summit on 19 May 2004, Switzerland notified its intentions to set aside 1 billion Swiss Francs to new member nations over a course of 5 years to help support economic and social solidarity in Europe.
parliamentary Bloc Pro Balticum is made up of both current and former members of the Swiss Parliament as well as other notable figures. Pro Balticum was established in 1991 to support active political, cultural and scientific contacts at all levels.


Estonian Parliament's Foreign Committee members visited Serbia and Montenegro

Nov 07 - A parliamentary delegation from Estonia's Foreign Affairs Committee visited Serbia and Montenegro last week, meeting with Vice Chairman of the Federal Republic's parliament, members of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Foreign Minister.
During the visit lasting from 1-5 November, committee Chairman Enn Eesmaa, Janno Reiljan and Estonia's Ambassador Mart Laanemäe had meetings with Serbian representatives in Belgrade and with representatives of Montenegro in Podgorica.
Eesmaa said the visit took place at a significant time for Serbia and Montenegro as a month ago talks started between the European Union and the federal republic over concluding a stabilization and association agreement. "This is a vital step towards Serbia and Montenegro's long-term goal - accession to the European Union," he said.
The hosts stressed at meetings in both Belgrade and Podgorica that Estonia's experience of the accession to the EU is important.
They also said Serbia and Montenegro's accession to the EU is the firm choice of those countries' residents regardless of whether they continue as a federal republic or as two independent countries following a referendum in Montenegro next year.
Other topics discussed in the meetings included economic issues of Serbia and Montenegro, among them questions related to privatisation. The status of Kosovo was also under discussion.


Ambassadors of Peru, El Salvador present credentials in Estonia

Nov 10 - The Ambassadors of El Salvador and Peru presented their letters of credence to the Estonian head of state.
President Arnold Rüütel noted in the meeting with the ambassador of El Salvador, Martin Alberto Rivera Gomez that Estonia is interested in strengthening political, economic and cultural ties with his country.
Gomez said that his country considers Estonia as a partner with whom to engage in closer co-operation.
Estonian-Peruvian relations have also not been very active until now and there is much room for improvement, the president told Ambassador Manuel Picasso. The ambassador thanked Estonia for supporting Peru's bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
The ambassador of El Salvador resides in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, and the Peruvian ambassador is based in Helsinki, Finland.



DEFENCE NEWS

Estonian government gives green light to extending Iraqi mission

Nov 10 - The Estonian government has approved a decision to send a bill to the parliament, extending the defence forces' mission to Iraq until the end of 2006.
The bill stipulates up to a 12-month extension of the current mandate, which expires 31 December 2005.
The letter on the cover-page of the bill states that the overall situation in Iraq remains unstable and it would not be conceivable to withdraw troops from the multinational coalition immediately after the UN Security Council resolution has expired.
The letter notes that the interim government of Iraq has asked Estonia as well as several other countries contributing troops to the multinational force to extend the presence of their mission units in Iraq.
The pre-mission and mission-related expenses are covered partially by the budget of the Defence Ministry. In 2006 around 24 million kroons (EUR 1.53 mln) will be set-aside for this purpose.
The Estonian military has been deployed in Iraq since June 2003. By a decision the parliament made in the spring, Estonian soldiers were scheduled to serve there until the end of the year.
Currently a 34-strong light infantry platoon, ESTPLA-11, is serving in Iraq. In mid-August another Platoon, ESTPLA-12 started pre-mission training. The unit will replace ESTPLA-11 if the parliament approves the plan to extend the mission.
In addition, three Estonian staff officers are serving at the headquarters of the coalition troops and one officer serves on the NATO training mission in Baghdad.



DOMESTIC NEWS

Estonia's ex-defence minister takes job with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Nov 08 - Jaak Jõeruut, who resigned from the post of Defence Minister in September, started work as an adviser at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dealing with questions concerning strategic management.
"The present adviser's position is in a way a follow-up to what I most recently did at the foreign service headquarters from 2002-2004 as chief inspector, then too strategic analyses had to be drawn up," he said.
Before taking up the post of Defence Minister, Jõeruut worked for 12 years as a diplomat, including his Ambassadorship to: Finland, Italy and the United Nations.



ECONOMIC NEWS

The International Monetary Fund came out with a report on Estonia

Nov 07 - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) presented its annual report on the economic situation in Estonia on its website, 4 November.
In the IMF report, Estonia's strong economic development after joining the EU is recognized, as well as the continuous growth of exports, this in contrast to the generally restrained economic growth of the European Union. The IMF report brings to the forefront the most important Estonian objective, which is to join the Euro-zone 1 January 2007. “In the negotiations with IMF, Estonia has presented its confidence in preparing to adopt the Euro by the given deadline, noted president of the Estonian Central Bank, Andres Sutt.
The director's council of IMF brought Estonia's strong fiscal policy to the forefront, when presenting the case that Estonia should be able to meet the criteria of the Maastrict treaty without a problem. According to IMF, this year's quick economic growth should allow for there to be more of a budget surplus then previously forecast, which at the same time would help keep the economy from overheating. A more stringent budgetary policy would also help to support confidence towards Estonia's economic environment and would decrease the economy's susceptibility to outside forces. According to Andres Sutt, new indicators for the 2005 budget show that the situation might even be more positive then is predicted in the IMF report.
In the report the rise of oil prices in the world market is noted as a factor complicating the inflation criteria. At the same time it is noted that base inflation has remained at the level of 2 percent, which doesn't make the current rise in consumer prices dangerous in the medium-range perspective. IMF found that to secure Estonia's competitiveness, flexibility of the market and a rise in productivity should be marked by a rise in wages. At the same time, what's critical is that the rise of wages in the public sector is gradual.
On the other hand, attention was also paid to the potential that the fast growth of loans in recent times may threaten the Macro-economic and financial stability and its processes should be paid close attention to, and held in check.


Currency Rates in Kroons
November 13, 2005

British pound - GBP - 23.286
Canadian dollar - CAD - 11.236
Swiss franc - CHF - 10.178
Danish krone - DKK - 2.098
Japanese yen - JPY - 0.113
Latvian lat - LVL - 22.468
Lithuanian lit - LTL - 4.532
Norwegian krone - NOK - 2.023
Russian rouble - RUB - 0.463
Swedish krona - SEK - 1.631
US dollar - USD - 13.378
Euro - EUR - 15.647



CULTURAL NEWS

Estonian Children's films took part in Warsaw Youth Film Festival

Nov 13 - The international children's film festival MAFF was held in Warsaw from 02-12 November. What was unique about this festival was that in addition to a professional jury, there was also an alternative jury, made up of youths. The youth jury had the opportunity to choose its favourites.
In the framework of the festival, the Estonian film, "Porgand" by director Pärtel Talli, "Instinct" by Rene Reinumägi, "Sigade Revolutsioon" by Jaak Kilmi, "Palju Õnne" by Urmas E. Liiv and "Liblikate Kodu", directed by Mark Soosaar.
The children's jury awarded "Sigade Revolutsioon" 2nd place.



ESTONIAN REVIEW 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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