The Social Affairs Ministry wants to introduce the concept of common-law marriage, a step that the Justice Ministry opposes. The Social Affairs Ministry argues that the state must ensure stronger legal protection for the tens of thousands of cohabiting couples who may face serious property related problems upon dissolution of their relationship or the death of one of the partners. Sirlis Somer, departmental head at the ministry, said the law should not turn a blind eye to common-law marriage because the number of couples living together without being formally married is growing all the time, particularly as the number of children being raised in such families is moving up fast. If as lately as in 2004 over 40 percent of parents of newborn children in Estonia were married, then in 2005 the percentage fell below 40 in 12 out of Estonia's 15 counties.
Max Jakobson, a veteran Finnish diplomat, who heads an international commission investigating crimes against humanity committed in Estonia, said the commission's report on the post-1944 period is due to be completed in two years. The commission has already completed 2,000 pages on the 1940-41 Soviet occupation and the German occupation of 1941-44, he said.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which resumed its work in Strasbourg this week, endorsed a decision by the PACE Political Committee to appoint Estonian MEP Andres Herkel as rapporteur on Belarus. Herkel must file a report about the situation in Belarus during the current session - i.e., by Jan. 26 at the latest. The urgency is due to the Belarus presidential elections being brought forward to an earlier date 's March 19.
Incumbent Arnold Ruutel has an excellent chance of winning the presidential elections this fall, leader of the Center Party Edgar Savisaar told the Eesti Paevaleht in an interview. Savisaar said that although Ruutel has not yet said whether he intends to seek a second term, he possesses the best chances of all potential candidates in both the parliament and the electoral college. "And this is not because all the political parties are loving him so much, but because he has the strongest support of the Estonian people," Savisaar said.
A United Nations study of 35 developed countries found that teenage Estonian girls are among the most violent. The study put Hungarian girls aged 11 to 15 at the top for violent and aggressive behavior 's with 32 percent being involved in at least one fight in the last 12 months. Estonia, Lithuania and Belgium came next in the league. England and Scotland were in places five and six, with 29 percent involved in at least one fight. According to the study, in the United States 25 percent of teenage girls were involved in at least one fight during the last year, while in Russia the percentage was 21. Officials at the Estonian ministries of Social Affairs and Education said they were not informed about the survey and had no comment.