Eesti in brief - 2005-05-11

  • 2005-05-11
The European Parliament discussed the violation of human rights and democratic principles in the Mari El Republic of the Russian Federation at a plenary session on May 12. Representatives of three of the biggest political factions initiated a draft resolution, MEP Tunne Kelam said. The bill condemns and attacks the persecution of independent Mari journalists, appealing both to local and Russian federal authorities to ensure the Mari people with quality native-language education at all levels.

The government introduced the Constitutional Treaty of the European Union for ratification in Parliament on May 10. Prime Minister Andrus Ansip expressed the hope that day-to-day domestic politics would not cast a shadow over ratification and that Parliament would endorse it by the end of the year. If Parliament finds that the treaty requires an amendment to the constitution, it would have to be endorsed in a referendum. Ansip said that Estonia had, from the very start, been contributing to the Constitutional Treaty and had accepted the document's final wording last year.

At a memorial event in Tallinn, Ansip asked to reconcile soldiers who fought on different sides of WWII. "The losses of the Estonian people were heavy, but other people also paid a high price for the war," he said. "Reconciliation means that we can respect the memory of others' victims without waging war with the dead. The war is over and let us forgive those who were forced to take part in it and who often fought simply in order to survive, get back home and live in a time of peace." The prime minister added that reconciliation was possible by overcoming the past. "This does not mean reconciling the injustice done to us, but making it up between ourselves."

Education and Science Minister Mailis Reps said that it was not her duty to enforce language requirements in Narva and other non-Estonian schools but to give everyone the opportunity of upgrading, the daily Eesti Paevaleht reported. During her visit to Narva on May 6, Reps said, "Language only comes in second place. First the teacher must be competent in his or her subject." The minister added that, in her opinion, the state did not provide enough support for language courses for teachers and other public service workers. "The cost of a 120-hour course is 6,000 's 7,000 kroons (383 's 447 euros), and of this the state compensates 3,000 kroons at the most. How many people are ready to pay such a sum immediately?"