Eesti in brief - 2004-11-25

  • 2004-11-25
President Arnold Ruutel approved Jaak Joeruut (photo) as the new defense minister on Nov.22. Joeruut, 56, is an experienced diplomat who served as Estonia's ambassador to the United Nations. He replaces Margus Hanson, who resigned two weeks ago over the allegedly careless handling of classified documents. Joeruut pledged his commitment to the previously set defense spending scheme that obliges Estonia to annually allocate 2 percent of its GDP to defense.

Margus Laidre, general director of the Foreign Ministry political department, summoned Ukrainian Ambassador Mykola Makarevich in order to inform him of the EU's position concerning the Ukrainian presidential election. A ministry spokesman said Laidre handed the ambassador a declaration drawn up by the EU's Dutch presidency expressing concern over the nondemocratic organization of the elections. Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot said this week that, in the EU's opinion, the election was not up to international standards and therefore the EU was calling on the Ukrainian authorities to revise the results.

A Tartu county court has sentenced three board members of a drug-prevention NGO to five to eight years in prison for illegal drug sales and extortion. The three individuals, aged 23 to 44, from the NGO Road to Life, based in the northeastern town of Johvi, were illegally selling hashish and amphetamine. One of them previously worked as a police inspector of the Eastern Police Department.

The towns of Kunda, Narva, Saue, Parnu and Tartu have been given the title of Children and Youth-friendly Town from UNICEF this week. The title, granted after a local UNICEF commission that inspects a town's compliance with the UN Children Rights Convention, has been earned by 240 municipalities in Europe since 2001. Tallinn will apply for the title next year.

Tallinn Mayor Tonis Palts has received a number of critical comments from Tartu officials after saying at a meeting with Tallinn Technical University's rector that Tartu University, one of the oldest in the region, could eventually become an administrative unit of Tallinn University, which is currently being established. Tallinn University is being created by merging a number of the existing higher education institution in the capital.

Estonia will be able to contribute to the EU military units from 2008, according to the Foreign Affairs Ministry. The EU will have 13 military units, 1,000 to 1,500 strong units that can be rapidly deployed to the crisis areas up to 6,000 kilometers away from the EU borders, by 2007. The EU sees the groups, to be used in UN-approved operations and independently on smaller missions, as an opportunity to deal better with threats and global challenges. The first groups will be created next year.