The Education and Science Ministry refuted rumors about closing the language training center. Priit Simson, press officer of the ministry, told the Baltic News Service that the present contract would expire on Dec. 31, and that the ministry was now waiting for a report from the center. He added that the contract would be adjusted if necessary, and a new contract would be signed. Simson underlined that the ministry still regards the language center as a necessary vehicle for integration, particularly bearing in mind the planned reform in ethnic Russian secondary schools set for 2007.
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, currently attending the World Cup ski competition in Otepaa, said he's been skiing whenever possible because he wants to take part in Sweden's Wasaloppet ski marathon. Ansip said that Wasaloppet was not a race one could ski on will power alone, and therefore it was necessary to train constantly. He said he had done more than 300 kilometers on skis this year. Vasaloppet traditionally takes place at the beginning of March, on a 90-kilometer track from Salen to Mora.
The "grand old man of Estonian theater," actor and director Mikk Mikiver (photo), passed away on Jan. 9. Born in Tallinn Sept. 4, 1937, Mikiver graduated from the state conservatory as an actor in 1961. He played hundreds of roles and later acted on stage at several Estonian theaters, becoming principal director of the Estonian Drama Theater and the Estonian Youth Theater. Mikiver's rare charm as an actor was admired by several generations of theatergoers.
Statistical Office data shows that, on average, women earn 24 percent less than men, which is the biggest wage gap among European Union member countries, Aripaev reported. According to the Statistical Office, women's gross hourly pay comprises 76 percent of men's. However, a Fontes PMP survey indicates that men's wages are merely 10 percent higher than women's. "The reason is not the policy companies pursue when setting wages, but other factors. Analysis shows, for instance, that men frequently get a bigger performance pay," the survey notes.
Parliament's legal committee does not consider it possible to initiate amendments to the family law legalizing same-sex marriage or partnership. Vaino Linde from the ruling Reform Party said that the committee, which he chairs, considered it neither possible nor necessary to change the family law, which defines a marriage as that contracted between a man and a woman. However, cohabiting persons of the same sex can protect their interests by concluding a contract of partnership to attain a common objective or making a will to bequeath their property, Linde observed. Representatives of sexual minority organizations called on Parliament to legalize the family relationship of same-sex couples. In the associations' opinion, a separate bill should be drafted for this purpose.