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Eesti in brief - 2007-01-24

Jan 24, 2007

Tartu University's electoral college failed to appoint a new rector on Jan 18 after the sole candidate, Ene Ergma, was unable to summon the necessary number of votes to win office. The result means the university's governing council will appoint a temporary rector on Jan 26, and will call for another election within a year. Ergma, an astrophysics professor and the current deputy speaker of the national parliament, stood as the sole candidate after beating off two rivals in earlier ballots. However, she received only 141 votes from the 258-member assembly 's the remaining ballot papers were returned blank, a sign of no-confidence. The University Council can appoint any candidate to the position for one year, meaning Ergma could still find herself occupying one of Estonia's most prestigious posts.

An Airo Catering Eesti service vehicle backed into an Estonian Air Boeing plane waiting at its terminal gate, crushing a light from the tip of the plane's wing. It is the second time in recent months that a service vehicle has hit an airplane at Tallinn Airport. The flight was delayed for several hours while Estonian Air found a replacement aircraft. Among the delayed passengers was Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, who was en-route to London.

Former Prime Minister Mart Laar will enter into an online debate with Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Alan Greenspan and other well-known politicians as part of Milton Friedman Day on Jan. 29. Laar is regarded internationally as a keen student of the economist Friedman because of the flat tax reforms he introduced to Estonia in the mid-90s. To celebrate Friedman's legacy, The Economist newspaper will host an online debate between well-known economically conservative politicians and figureheads.

Estonia is ready to join the Prum Treaty which deals with cross-border police cooperation, Interior Minister Kalle Laanet said at an informal meeting of European Union interior and justice ministers in Dresden, Germany last week. The meeting focused on the prospects of bringing the Prum Treaty into EU law, a spokesperson for the Estonian Interior Ministry said. "The presidency stressed the need to make the fight against organized crime more efficient in what regards terrorism, cross-border crime and illegal immigration. At the present moment one of the best possibilities for that is the Prum Treaty," Laanet said.

Chinese-Estonian relations deserve promoting, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said on the eve of his official visit to China last week. In Paet's words, Estonia's political and economic ties with "the country where tomorrow is born" are necessary and worth fostering. "China's view of development in that region matters to Estonia," the minister said. Paet met in Beijing with Vice President Zeng Qinghong, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, and officials in charge of China's European policy. The leaders discussed the present and future state of bilateral relations, as well as relations between the European Union and China.
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