Eesti in brief - 2006-01-04

  • 2006-01-04
The government postponed until March 10 the deadline for a commission investigating the possibility of military equipment on board the passenger ferry Estonia that sank in 1994, taking over 800 lives. The panel was originally supposed to report its findings by Dec. 10, but circumstances that came to light in the course of the probe needed to be checked and citizens of foreign countries interviewed, the government's press office said. The government set up the commission last March. A Swedish inquiry established that although the Estonia had no explosives or military equipment on board the night it sank, Sept. 28, it was carrying ordnance from on Sept. 14 and 20, 1994.

Chairman of Parliament's legal committee Vaino Linde said it was not possible that Estonian laws would allow for same-sex marriages. The Reform Party MP said that while he understands people who are gay and is not against gay relationships, it would be improper to offer an alternative to Christian marriage. "A discussion on this topic can be held indeed, but I am quite confident that the stance that a marriage can be concluded only between a man and a woman would prevail in the Riigikogu [Estonia's parliament]," he said. According to a poll conducted by BNS/Faktum last August, 62 percent of Estonian respondents opposed same-sex marriages and 30 percent would allow them.

7,072 people received citizenship via naturalization during 2005, bringing the number of those naturalized since independence to nearly 140,000. The residents naturalized in the course of last year included 2,332 minors under 15 years of age and 179 people with limited capabilities and disabled people, spokesperson for the Citizenship and Migration Board Ita Raun said. Nine people were granted citizenship for special services. Since 1993 a total of 2,728 people relinquished their Estonian citizenship, over half of whom became citizens of Finland.

The Enterprise Estonia foundation spent more than 20 million kroons (1.28 million euros) on campaigns to tout Estonia abroad, with most of the money spent on fairs and publications. The last major undertaking to reach the public was an extensive campaign promoting the Baltic state as a tourist destination on the MTV Nordic music channel, where video clips on Estonia were shown and viewers were invited to take part in an Internet-based lottery in which it was possible to win five free trips to the country.

Of other major projects, there were Estonian Days in Riga from May 20-21, which cost 2 million kroons, a similar event in St. Petersburg, Russia (850,000 kroons) and a St. Martin's Day fair in Finland. In all, the foundation organized activities introducing Estonia to 15 countries. The print run of publications about Estonia in eight different languages ranged from five to 20,000 copies. Next year 30 million kroons has been earmarked in the Enterprise Estonia budget for promoting Estonia.