Eesti in brief - 2005-02-23

  • 2005-02-23
Parliament deputy speaker, former media businessman and one of the founding members of the Reform Party Rein Lang, 47, replaced the dismissed Kristiina Ojuland as Foreign Affairs Minister on Feb. 22. Lang (photo) was the only EU foreign minister to miss a meeting with U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice and the NATO Council session this week due to desk-cleaning formalities that come with the changing of the guard.

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of Russia's Parliament, said the two countries' parliaments could simultaneously ratify the border treaty due to be inked soon. Kosachev, who was in Estonia on a two-day visit, said this would prevent the possibility of one of the parliaments finding itself in an embarrassing situation. He alleged that problems could emerge in Parliament, as there were political forces in the Baltic country who in his words were putting territorial claims to Russia. He said that since the peace treaty of Tartu had lost its validity in 1940, there were no grounds for such demands.

Most of the population considers the Independence Day reception necessary, Faktum pollster reported. Over 40 percent described the reception, hosted by President Arnold Ruutel and often referred to the "penguin parade," as "very necessary" and 34 percent as "rather necessary." The survey showed that the average supporter was a small town resident with a university degree.

A group of American, British, Swedish, Finnish, Estonian and Hungarian politicians and public figures sent an appeal to Russian Federation officials regarding alleged infringement on political and cultural rights of the Maris, a Finno-Ugric nation of about 600,000 living in Russia. Vladimir Kozlov, president of the Republic of Mari El, who also heads a Finno-Ugric newspaper, was reportedly severely beaten earlier this month.

Social Affairs Minister Marko Pomerants signed a social security cooperation agreement with Canadian authorities on Feb. 21, allowing Estonian citizens to retire in Canada while receiving pension from their home country and vice-versa. The payments will take into account employment records in both countries. The ministry sees the 1,500-odd Estonians who have immigrated to Canada as the agreement's main target group.

The nation needs more people with the entrepreneur spirit, a recent survey by the Estonian Institute for Economic Research found. About 65 percent of respondents said they would like to work as employees. Only 29 percent said they would prefer to head their own business, compared to the 47 percent in other EU countries and 59 percent in the U.S.A.