Estonian Review: January 3-16, 2005




Estonia climbs to 4th place in list of economic freedom

Jan 04
- Estonia has improved its standing in The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom by two notches from last year, placing fourth in this year's list after Hong Kong, Singapore and Luxembourg.
Hong Kong has occupied the top position in all eleven annual scoreboards published so far. Lithuania dropped by one place, to place 23rd, while Latvia was up one notch in 28th.
Places in the top ten after Estonia went to Ireland, New Zealand, Britain, Denmark, Iceland and Australia.

Estonia to keep supporting democratic development in Ukraine

Jan 11
- Estonia is set to continue working closely with the public sector in Ukraine, to promote co-operation between NGOs of the two countries and strengthen contacts between local governments, the country's Foreign Minister said, meeting with MPs.
Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland, who attended a session of the parliamentary European Union (EU) affairs committee, said supporting the development of democratic institutions in Ukraine was in Estonia's interest.
Members of the parliamentary committee said that while the future of Ukraine lay first and foremost in the hands of the country's own people, the EU could do more than it had done so far to help democracy become rooted in Ukraine.
Members of the parliamentary committee backed a plan of goals presented to them by the Minister, in accordance with which the European Union should recognize Ukraine as a functioning free market economy and then back the process of accession of Ukraine to the World Trade Organization (WTO). After WTO membership the issue of signing a free trade treaty between Ukraine and the EU would come onto the agenda.

Second team of Estonian rescuers leaves for Indonesia

Jan 14
- The Estonian Rescue Board despatched a new team of ten to Indonesia. The members of the team going to Indonesia will replace the medics now working in the country.
The deputy head of the present team will also be replaced. Yevgeni Yutkevich, will assume new duties at the local UN co-ordination centre in the framework of the United Nations UNDAC mission, taking over the duties of Argo Parts who returned from the mission on January 12.
The team is working at the Fakinah Hospital in Banda Aceh at the northern most tip of Sumatra.
The first team, 15-strong, consisted of ten medics, two staff members and three logisticians. Head of the team is Mart Haljaste and the group of medics works under Jaak Talving.

WHO regards Estonian primary health care reform as exemplary

Jan 05
- The World Health Organization (WHO) found that the Estonian primary health care system had been successful and many other countries could learn from it.
In the report, it lists effective family medicine, efficient health care legislation, equitable distribution of services and access, and an excellent training programme for health care specialists among Estonia's achievements.
But the WHO also finds that there are still areas for improvement and the patient focus on the primary health care strategy could be enhanced.
"The reform has not yet reached its full potential in some key areas, such as financing, resource allocation, organizational arrangements and service provision," the WHO said.
Dr Nata Menabde, director of the country support division of the WHO's regional office for Europe, said the findings showed that Estonia had made great strides in building up a strong primary health care system.
"There are of course still many challenges to address. But with the commitment already shown by the government, and with the support of development partners, including the WHO, much can be achieved in the immediate future," he added.
The Estonians replaced the Australian rescue team in Aceh, which opened a field hospital there immediately after the catastrophe.
Talving told reporters that the Estonian duty would be to assess the medical condition of the victims, to give emergency medical aid, to perform surgery if this can save lives, prepare the victims for transport, and collect and forward medical information in order to prevent potential health hazards.


Fewer than anticipated Estonians go to work in old EU member states

Jan 11
- A smaller number of Estonians than predicted have gone to work in the old European Union member states since Estonia became a member of the EU in May last year, officials at the Social Affairs Ministry said.
Of the old EU member states, only Sweden, Britain and Ireland have opened their job markets to workers from the new member states without restrictions.
Other countries have imposed transition periods lasting for at least two years until May 2006, when the restrictions can be extended by three more years if necessary, and after that by two more years if there are sufficient grounds.
From May to September 2004, 1 340 Estonians went to work in Britain and registered there. The figure makes up two per cent of the nationals of the new EU member states who went to work in Britain during the period and about 0.1 per cent of the Estonian population, said Maarja Saks, Senior Specialist at the Labour Market Department of the Ministry of Social Affairs.
As many as 1 475 people from Estonia were employed in Ireland as of the month of November, making up about three per cent of all workers from new EU nations in that country and a little over 0.1 per cent of Estonia's population.
A survey conducted by Praxis and Saar Poll last spring, showed that for Estonians the foreign country where one would like to work the most is Finland. Since Finland is going to permit the free movement of labour from new EU members only after a transition period, Estonians working there, need to have a work permit also after May 1.

Estonia: Britain's Undersecretary of Defence calls to continue mission in Iraq

Jan 11
- Britain's Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Defence, Ivor Caplin, said during a meeting with Estonian Defence Minister Jaak Jõerüüt in Tallinn, that it was necessary to continue the mission in Iraq.
Caplin expressed his condolences on the death of two Estonian soldiers in Iraq and said it was necessary that the mission in Iraq would continue until stability is achieved in the region.
The Estonian Minister thanked the Undersecretary for Britain's co-operation, underscoring the importance of air policing for the Baltic States and the contribution of British advisers to the development of the Estonian Defence Forces.
During Caplin's meeting with the Secretary General of the Estonian Defence Ministry, Lauri Almann, matters related to Baltic air policing and international peacekeeping operations were discussed.

Estonian-U.S. relations on the rise -- Ambassador

Jan 05
- The new U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Aldona Wos said Estonia's integration with the European Union did not rule out strong transatlantic relations with the United States.
In an article in daily Eesti Päevaleht, Wos wrote that Estonia's partnership with the United States is on the rise simultaneously with Estonia strengthening its contacts with other European countries.
She declared that although the United States had had differences with its European partners, the unifying aspects outweighed the separating ones.
The United States staunchly supported Estonia's accession to the European Union. Contributing to the building of a stronger Europe by means of its defence, foreign and economic policy, Estonia is also building a more efficient and better partner for the United States, the U.S. Ambassador wrote.
We can see also Estonia as a central partner on our common road to the future, she said. The United States and the European Union must co-operate in order to win the war against terror, to cut through the sources of financing terrorism and to disarm security risks before they reach American or Estonian soil.
We thank Estonia for its dedication to the Iraq mission and thank the Estonian Defence Forces personnel for the backbreaking work they are doing there, the Ambassador wrote.

Estonian-Italian cultural co-operation deepening

Jan 05
- Representatives of Estonia and Italy signed a four-year bilateral co-operation programme.
Among other things it will bring Italian academics, students and cultural figures to Estonia and will facilitate cultural, educational, science and technology co-operation.
"The programme supports the translation of literature, co-operation between librarians, archivists and conservationists, and makes it possible for us to more actively take part in cultural events," Culture Minister Urmas Paet said.
He said that the cultural contacts, which had been quite active between Estonia and Italy in the recent years, would now become even closer. "When Italians start bringing here their concerts, exhibitions and movies, it will create the opportunity for all Estonians to get acquainted with Italian culture," the Minister added.
Both the countries support co-operation between cultural and art institutions, provide scholarships for scientific work, study of language and literature as well as cultural research.
Culture Minister Urmas Paet, Education and Science Minister Toivo Maimets and Italian Ambassador Ruggero Vozzi signed the programme.


Estonian Defence Forces mark anniversary of War of Independence armistice

Jan 03
- The Estonian Defence Forces paid tribute to those who fought for Estonian independence in the war of 1918-1920 at the Tallinn military cemetery.
Defence Forces Commander Vice Adm. Tarmo Kouts and representatives of the Estonian War Graves Commission and the General Johan Laidoner Society laid wreaths at the monument to the fallen in the War of Independence.
The Defence Ministry marked the armistice anniversary with a moment of silence.
Eighty-five years passed at 10:30 a.m. on January 3, since the armistice in the War of Independence between Estonia and Soviet Russia. Under the peace treaty between the two countries signed on 2 February 1920, Russia granted unconditional independence of the Estonian state, waiving for all time any rights of sovereignty it had had over the people and land of Estonia.

Estonian parliament extends mission in Afghanistan by 20 months

Jan 12
- The Estonian Parliament extended the participation of units of the Estonian Defence Forces in the international peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan by 20 months until September 2006.
According to the parliament's decision, the total size of the Estonian units will rise to 25 personnel. The increase may take place next year.
Estonia currently has an eight-member mine clearance team, two staff officers and one air traffic controller serving in Afghanistan. The Estonian troops rotate in February and in August.


Analyst forecasts promise consumers a good year in Estonia

Jan 03
- Economic analysts predict stable prices, continued growth of wages and stock prices, and cheap loans in Estonia for the New Year.
"The premises at present are better than a year ago, therefore, I expect slightly faster economic growth than last year," said Leev Kuum, chief researcher with the Estonian Institute of Economic Research, predicted 6.5 per cent economic growth.
According to Kuum, growth should be driven by both increasing export and investments. "It's also important that this year we'll be in the European Union for 12 months and not eight months like last year," he noted.
Analyst Ruta Eier from Ühispanga Varahaldus (Ühispank Asset Management) said that very fast growth in loans and the real estate sector may slow down this year, slightly curbing the pace of economic growth.
Consumer spending should rise at more or less the same pace as in 2004. In the first half of the year motor fuels, which increased in price in the middle of 2004 and a rise in electricity prices will make themselves felt in the inflation numbers.
Unemployment, which has been stable at roughly 10 per cent in the last few years, should on the strength of the favourable economic climate start declining this year. The Finance Ministry even predicts that the jobless rate will drop below nine per cent of the working-age population. The reason for this is the opening of the EU labour markets, growth in EU aid and declining tax evasion.
As to the price of oil, analysts observed that a further rise is inevitable. The per-litre price of motor fuel will probably climb by approximately 0.70 kroons by the end of the year, but the extent of the rise largely depends on local filling stations.
Analysts expect stock prices to rise by approximately 15 per cent, in which both continued interest of foreign investors in the fast-developing Eastern Europe and the growth of local pension fund assets playing a role.

Tallinn airport's passenger flows soar 39 per cent in 2004

Jan 03
- The number of passengers using the services of Estonia's Tallinn airport totalled 997 475 in 2004, up by 281 616 or 39.3 per cent from the previous year.
Tallinna Lennujaam (Tallinn Airport) CEO Rein Loik voiced in November the hope the passenger turnover would cross the one million mark by the end of the year but the actual figure fell narrowly short of this target.
The airport handled 4 351 tons of cargoes in 2004,a growth of 3.4 per cent year-on-year. Mail passing through the airport increased by 2.1 per cent to 886 tons. The number of flight operations totalling 26 501, increased by 1 205.

Estonia's trade with non-EU countries grows somewhat in November

Jan 07
- The value of Estonia's foreign trade with non European Union countries by the special trade system was 4.4 billion kroons (EUR 281 mln) in November 2004, 100 million kroons more than in October 2004.
Exports amounted to 1.552 billion kroons or 35 per cent of trade with non-EU countries and imports totalled 2.768 billion kroons or 65 per cent. The trade deficit was 1.216 billion kroons. The gap in October was 1.237 billion kroons.
Compared to November 2003, exports grew by 530 million kroons or 52 per cent, while imports increased by 923 million kroons or 47.2 per cent. Month on month, exports increased by one per cent and imports by nearly four per cent.
Exports to CIS countries made up 52 percent of total exports, up from 40 per cent in October, while imports from CIS countries made up 40 per cent of total imports, up from 35 per cent in October.

More than 24 000 domain names ending in .ee registered in Estonia

Jan 07
- 25 650 domain names ending in .ee,,, or have been registered in the server of the Estonian Educational and Research Network (EENet).
The number of domain names ending in .ee alone exceeds 24 000, said the director of EENet, Mihkel Kraav. "The number of domains has grown 34 per cent since the beginning of 2004," Kraav said.
Established in 1993, the Estonian Educational and Research Network is a state agency administered by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research whose task is to manage, co-ordinate and develop the computer network of science, education and culture.

Enterprise Estonia expects 2004 FDI to total EUR 640-700 million

Jan 07
- Enterprise Estonia has estimated that foreign direct investment (FDI) in Estonia in 2004 totalled between 10-11 billion kroons (EUR 640-700 mln), marking a slight decline from 2003.
Mart Kivine, marketing director at Enterprise Estonia, said that Enterprise Estonia was expecting a significant increase in FDI in 2005 and that it should be possible to break the limit of one billion euros or 15.6 billion kroons in 2006.
FDI in the first three quarters of 2004 came to 8.17 billion kroons. The total for 2003 was 12.469 billion kroons.

Estonian analysts say CPI rise exactly in line with expectations

Jan 07
- Analysts say the three per cent annual increase recorded in Estonia's consumer price index in 2004 matched estimates, even though the rise in the final part of the year was faster than expected.
"At the end of the year there was a bigger than expected increase in the prices of alcohol and tobacco," said Maris Lauri, analyst for Hansapank. "The growth rate in December was also affected by the rise in prices for home heating, which had an effect on housing costs," Lauri said.
Another growing factor was the increase in the prices of hotel services, which is attributable to the large number of tourists, she explained.
Ruta Eier, analyst with Ühispank, said the rise in Estonia's CPI in the was as expected. "The price rises that we saw were anticipated -- the housing costs, sugar, also a few other foodstuffs, and fuel. The rise in world market prices for fuel didn't have an immediate impact but showed toward the end of the year, because the world market price of the fuel stocked ahead of the increase in excise tax rates in May was still lower than in the late part of the year," she said.
"In all the rest we had relative stability of prices and it can be said that competition is strong enough to be able to curb inflationary pressure," Eier said.

Currency Rates in Kroons
January 16, 2005

British pound - GBP - 22.327
Canadian dollar - CAD - 9.847
Swiss franc - CHF - 10.095
Danish krone - DKK - 2.103
Japanese yen - JPY - 0.116
Latvian lat - LVL - 22.466
Lithuanian lit - LTL - 4.532
Norwegian krone - NOK - 1.915
Russian rouble - RUB - 0.427
Swedish krona - SEK - 1.730
US dollar - USD - 11.931
Euro - EUR - 15.646


Estonia's Veerpalu wins men's 15 km at Otepää

Jan 08
- Estonia's Andrus Veerpalu has triumphed in the men's 15 km cross-country classic style World Cup race in Otepää, southern Estonia. The victory was Veerpalu's fifth in the World Cup.
Norway's Frode Estil came second 42.3 seconds behind and Estonia's Jaak Mae placed third, 45.4 seconds off the pace.
Estonia's Kaspar Kokk had an excellent performance, finishing one minute and 46.4 seconds behind Veerpalu in 16th place.


Estonian Cultural Endowments awarded

Jan 15
- The Estonian Cultural Endowment presented the 2004 awards for architecture, audiovisual art, music, literature, physical education and sport, visual and applied art, dramatic art and folk culture.
The main awards went to:
Ilmar Moss for maintaining the continuity of the Estonian Song and Dance Festival and for directing the Estonian Song and Dance Festival Foundation.
Tõnu Kaljuste for his work with the new album "Eesti ballaadid" (Estonian Ballads) and for his wide-reaching concert work.
Aleksander Eelmaa for his exhibition "Külmetava kunstniku portree" (A portray of a freezing artist) at the Viinistu Art Gallery.
Ene Lamp for her book "Expressionism".
Ants Teder for creating and for maintaining the continuity of the athletics competition "TV 10 Olympic Starts".
The Director of the Estonian Literature Museum Krista Aru for fruitful work in developing Estonian humanitarian culture, for directing the Estonian Literature Museum and developing the museum into a top learning centre.
Film directors Priit Pärn, Kaspar Jancis, Ülo Pikkov ja Priit Tender for the animation film "Frank ja Wendy"
Architect Toomas Rank for the restoration of the historical Rägavere Manor.

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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