The state will contribute up to 45 soldiers to the Nordic battle group, part of the European Union's rapid reaction forces. Estonia will send a guard platoon, consisting of roughly 30 troops, with staff officers, logisticians and medics. In accordance with the government's decision, a total of up to 45 soldiers can be sent. The battle group will begin operating on Jan. 1, 2008. Sweden is the unit's lead country, which also includes also Finland and Norway.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov signed an order on the payment of monthly subsidies to retired Russian servicemen and family members in all three Baltic states. The subsidies, paid in the local currency, will be distributed through each country's embassies, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Agriculture Minister Ester Tuiksoo repeated that she saw no reason to resign because of the sugar penalty threatening the country. "It hasn't occurred to me to resign. It's not even a topic of discussion," the minister said. "It's a political struggle with an extremely primitive approach." She added that those accusing her did not understand the problem. Tuiksoo stressed that she was dealing with the problem: "When I became minister, no one dared estimate that the excess sugar stock could become such a problem," she said. "The problem existed but its seriousness was not perceived."
The Pensioners' Party has decided to merge with the Center Party. A spokesman for the latter said the decision had been unanimous and that members of the Pensioners' Party would each confirm their change by written application. The Pensioners' Party has 1,300 members and the Center Party has 8,150. Center Party Chairman Edgar Savisaar, who took part in the congress, said that members of both parties agreed on several problematic points. "This particularly applies to issues pertaining to the social sphere, and even more so to both our parties' respectful attitude to the older generation," he said.
Russia should try to improve relations with the Baltic states and simultaneously protect the rights of the Russian-speaking population there, former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev said. "I think the policy of the Baltic states is meant to demonstrate that they have disassociated from us, but they are doing something that may spoil our relations for a long time," he told students of Moscow State University. Nevertheless, "Russia should keep a positive line in relation with the Baltic States," he added. "Our citizens there should be protected." Gorbachev said he hoped that relations between Russia and the Baltic states would improve in the future. "I think that in the long run, everything will be all right. They are now evidently trying to convince the West that they are Westerners, but they should not forget that they are Russia's neighbors."