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Estonian Review: October 24-30, 2005




Estonia supports victims of Pakistani earthquake with
400,000 kroons

Oct 27
- The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to allocate 400,000 kroons of humanitarian aid to help eliminate the consequences of Pakistani earthquake and provide relief to victims. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet signed a directive, allocating the sum from the Foreign Ministry's means earmarked for development and humanitarian aid to UNICEF.
According to Foreign Minister Urmas Paet Estonia's aid to Pakistan is not limited to the 12-day mission of medics and disaster relief team. "We will provide 400.000 kroons from the Foreign Ministry's humanitarian aid funding to UNICEF, because the situation in Pakistan still remains poor. It will surely take months for disaster relief workers to ease conditions,” Paet said.
On 11 October, medical supplies were sent to Pakistan with the disaster relief team. These supplies had been purchased for 50,000 kroons from the Foreign Ministry’s means foreseen for Humanitarian aid.
In addition, Estonia has allocated 1.5 million kroons to NATO through the Defense Ministry to support the NATO air bridge for delivering humanitarian aid to Pakistan.
More information on development co-operation is available on Foreign Ministry's home page at:

Foreign Minister Paet met with the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Rolf Ekéus

Oct 24
- Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met with Rolf Ekèus, High Commissioner of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Issues related to the protection of national minorities in the OSCE space were under discussion at the meeting. The parties talked about the situation and developments in the Balkans, Central Asia, Russia and Belarus.
Foreign Minister Paet said Estonia supports the High Commissioner in every way and is open for further co-operation. "What is important is that the High Commissioner applies his experiences and uses his mandate in the eastern direction, as well as in the west, at the same time maintaining his impartiality and independence," Paet emphasized, adding, "It is the corner stone on which the authority of that institution is based."
The parties also discussed educational reform in Estonia. Ekéus acknowledged Estonia's approach to reform of education through balanced and gradual implementation. Foreign Minister Paet underlined that Estonia is one of the few European nations, where education in a non-state language is part of the national education system and is financed by the state.
During his visit to the East-Viru County, Ekeus found that the ethnic relations situation in Estonia has improved.
"Estonia is dynamically developing, and this applies to both the economy as well as relations between different nationalities," Ekeus told reporters.

Estonian Prime Minister recalls Iceland's recognition 14 yrs ago and gains support from Baltic-Nordic leaders on Estonian-Russian border issue

Oct 25
- On Monday, 24 October Estonian Prime Minister met with Iceland's Prime Minister Halldor Asgrimsson and thanked the country for being the first to recognize Estonia after the restoration of its independence 14 years ago.
During their meetinng Ansip and Asgrimsson spoke about relations between Estonia and Iceland as well as economic relations and participation in NATO missions.
Next August, 15 years will pass from the day when Iceland became the first country to recognize Estonia after the restoration of its independence. In gratitude for the recognition the square in front of the Foreign Ministry building in Tallinn was renamed Iceland Square in August 1999.
"It was a day when the small country of Iceland set an example to big countries," Ansip said. He said that next year is symbolic in the framework of Estonian-Icelandic relations. He extended an invitation to the prime minister of Iceland to visit Estonia.
At the meeting Ansip thanked Iceland for its support in matters of the Estonian-Russian border treaty,. "It is very important that all our European Union (EU) and NATO partners unanimously support us. Estonia on its part has done its best to conclude the border treaties - it has signed and ratified them," Ansip said.
The meeting also addressed participation in NATO missions and issues connected with economic reforms and economic policy. Asgrimsson said that Estonia's success on the EU and NATO course had strengthened cooperation in the whole Nordic area.
Also, Baltic and Nordic prime ministers participated in a joint meeting. During their meeting the prime ministers underlined the need for a common foreign and security policy of the European Union (EU) in order to ensure better protection of all member countries' interests, meanwhile expressing their support of Estonia on issues related to the Estonian-Russian border treaties. The prime ministers affirmed the long-term goal to have democratic Russia as their co-operation partner.
The prime ministers also discussed the financial perspective of the EU.
The Baltic prime ministers emphasized the need to preserve 4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) as the limit of allocations from structural funds, with the rate of each country's economic growth taken into account.
In the framework of the meeting Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip together with his Latvian and Lithuanian colleagues signed a joint letter to Tony Blair, prime minister of the British presidency of the EU, pointing out the need to reach an agreement on the financial perspective by the end of December.


Statement on Iraq by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Oct 26
- Estonia greets the transparency of results from the referendum on the Iraqi Constitution. The Iraqi people showed their dedication to the construction of a stable and democratically functioning state by participating in the Constitutional referendum.
Estonia hopes that the December elections will be the next step towards setting up a democratically functioning state and that the chosen parliament will represent the interests of all religious and ethnic groups within Iraqi.

Estonia to join sanctions against Uzbekistan

Oct 27
- The Estonian government decided to accede to the European Union's (EU) sanctions against Uzbekistan, a country that has refused international investigation of unrest that took the toll of 800 human lives.
"Acceding to the sanctions, Estonia assumes the obligation not to sell to Uzbekistan weapons or to send the country equipment making it possible to produce weapons," Foreign Minister Urmas Paet told reporters.
Furthermore, Estonia will not permit persons into the country responsible for the bloody suppression of unrest and the refusal of an international investigation of the incident.

Estonian president receives new Latvian Ambassador

Oct 27
- Estonian President Arnold Rüütel received the new Latvian ambassador Rihards Mucins, who handed over his credentials. During the meeting the president underlined the importance of regional cooperation between Estonia and Latvia.
"I am glad that the Latvian embassy in Estonia has actively contributed to this cooperation," he said. "I hope that you in your term of office will pay attention to the regional aspect, which still has a lot of room for development in the context of northern Latvia and southern Estonia."
Rüütel expressed his pleasure towards the next meeting of the Baltic presidents taking place on 3 November. He emphasized that it was with great interest that he was looking forward to his forthcoming state visit to Latvia this December.
The Latvian ambassador said Estonia and Latvia had achieved remarkable results both domestically as well as in foreign policy and had brought more stability and dynamism to the whole of northern Europe.

Estonian Policemen observing the work of Russian Militia in Pskov

Oct 26
- Four policemen of the Estonian South Prefecture Monday 24 October left for Pskov to observe the work of their Russian colleagues and to develop cooperation between the two countries' protectors of public order.
Police officers from the Tartu car tracking group and drug squad and from the Põlva and Võru criminal police are observing the work of members of the Russian militia in Pskov.
Chief of the South Police Prefecture Aivar Otsalt said the need for cooperation with Russia was dictated by the geographical location of the prefecture.
"The Estonian and Russian criminal worlds cooperate in several spheres, such as drug transit and transport of smuggled goods and stolen cars across the border," said Otsalt.
The prefect said fighting against crime connected with both the countries required active information exchange and cooperation with the Russian colleagues.
"In addition to ensuring security in the territory of the South Prefecture it is our duty to think that we are the eastern border of the European Union. This sets us certain requirements and by making life difficult for criminals in Estonia, we will make the European Union a safer place," Otsalt said.
In November 2003, three Pskov militia officers were learning from the Estonians' experience, and the next month three Estonian policemen spent a week in Russia. Last summer Pskov militia officers again came to Estonia to get acquainted with their colleagues work.


Senior NATO officer visited Estonia

Oct 25
- Adm. Sir Mark Stanhope, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (DSACT) took part in a discussion at defence forces headquarters about transformation in NATO and the Estonian contribution to NATO.
Admiral Stanhope met with Toivo Tootsen, chairman of the parliament's national defence committee, and defence forces commander Vice Adm. Tarmo Kõuts and visited the defence forces headquarters and air sovereignty centre.
Adm. Stanhope began his military service in the British Royal Navy in 1970. He served on board different ships, commanding the nuclear submarine HMS Splendid, the frigate HMS London and the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious.
Immediately before becoming Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation Admiral Stanhope was Deputy Commander-in-Chief Fleet.


Estonian Government gives green light to biometrical passports

Oct 27
- The Estonian government granted permission to the Interior Ministry to organize state procurement tenders for the purchase of materials and services necessary for the issuance of travel documents with biometrical identifiers.
On May 19 the Cabinet asked the Interior Ministry to draw up bills for the organization of the issuance of biometrical passports.
A chip with biometrical information containing data on the image of the face will be added to the passport. The chip will be either on the page with personal information or inside the cover.
All European Union countries must switch to passports with the image of the face incorporated by means of biometrical data. Germany and Finland were the first countries to have announced respective state procurement tenders.
Passports with the image of the face are the first stage in the transition to biometrical data. Next fingerprints will be added into the Estonian passports.
According to plans the state will launch the issue of new biometrical passports as of next September to those who need a new passport. Those who have a valid passport do not need to apply for a new passport because of the introduction of biometry. All passports issued earlier can be used until their term of validity expires.
The European Union will switch to biometrical passports primarily because of the threat of terror, in order to better check those entering the European Union.


Estonian Parliament adopts supplementary budget for 2005

Oct 26
- The Estonian parliament with 70 votes in favour of and none against passed a two billion kroon (EUR 64 mln) supplementary budget for 2005.
Revenue of the supplementary budget is envisaged at 2.6 billion kroons and expenditure at 1.89 billion kroons.
The Health Insurance Fund stands to get 439.2 million kroons from the extra budget, which will completely bridge the gap in the fund's budget. The first pillar of the pension system, or state-funded pensions, will get additionally 507.9 million kroons and the second pillar, or mandatory funded pensions, 98.4 million kroons. Another 265.8 million kroons will be spent to fully pay Estonia's annual contribution to the EU budget.
According to the budget bill, 158.1 million kroons of the extra revenue that Estonia is estimated to collect in excise duties will go toward road construction, while 29 million kroons in unplanned revenue from gambling tax will be used to finance culture and sports.
The government will spend 105 million kroons to buy embassy buildings in The Hague and New York. Vocational education is to get 93.4 million kroons, more than half of which will be spent to modernize facilities and equipment.

Quarter of a million E-bills sent in Estonia monthly

Oct 24
- A quarter of a million bills or more than 6 percent of the four million bills sent monthly to private individuals in Estonia are electronic. Mait Sooaru, managing director of the Itella company that operates the electronic settlement environment, said Itella currently sends more than 100,000 e-bills a month, which make up roughly 6.5 percent of all bills sent out by the company.
According to Sooaru, Estonia places second among European countries in terms of electronic billing. The share of e-bills is higher only in Norway at 7 percent. Currently electronic billing is growing at a faster rate in Estonia than it is in Norway and thus Estonia is predicted to take the top position, Sooaru said.
He believes the percentage of e-bills will rise over 10 percent next year. By today 28 companies have joined the e-billing portal that was launched in February. Besides Finland, Itella, part of Finland's Suomen Posti concern, operates in Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Currency Rates in Kroons
October 30, 2005

British pound - GBP - 22.948
Canadian dollar - CAD - 10.997
Swiss franc - CHF - 10.124
Danish krone - DKK - 2.097
Japanese yen - JPY - 0.112
Latvian lat - LVL - 22.470
Lithuanian lit - LTL - 4.532
Norwegian krone - NOK - 2.004
Russian rouble - RUB - 0.453
Swedish krona - SEK - 1.645
US dollar - USD - 12.874
Euro - EUR - 15.647


First Estonian to reach the top 100 on the WTA tour charts

Oct 25
- Estonian tennis player Maret Ani beat Italian player Mara Santangelo (WTA 98) 6:3, 7:5 to win her first professional tournament.
"How to describe it! It was like my spirit had just been set free. After all, I had to wait so many years for this victory. Twice before I've been in the final, and now at last, I’ve won! So many people came to congratulate me. What a beautiful competition," exclaimed Ani, overcome by emotion.
With her victory at the San Rafael 2005, Maret Ani has made it on the top 100 charts for singles competitors on the WTA Tour. Before the tournament she was rated 110. In the latest ratings, she has attained position 95.
In the opening rounds of the tournament, Ani managed to beat her fellow countryman Kaia Kanepi for the first time 6:4, 6:2. The last time they played against each other was in 1998 when Ani lost to Kanepi.

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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