Eesti in brief - 2006-04-19

  • 2006-04-19
During a meeting with members of Parliament's constitutional committee, President Arnold Ruutel expressed hope that lawmakers would reach a compromise on the topic of pre-election political outdoor advertising. The parties came head to head on proposed changes to the election law, including the regulation of pre-election political advertising. Ruutel expressed hope that Parliament would find a compromise since explaining one's promises and ideas directly to voters is most important before elections.

The council of the ruling three-party coalition said that the EU constitutional treaty could be ratified in Parliament in May. Meelis Atonen, vice chairman of the Reform Party, said the coalition council had decided on April 17 that the treaty should enter its second and final reading in May. It passed the first reading at the beginning of February. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet called on lawmakers to ratify the treaty, even though it was unlikely to go into effect on Nov. 1, as earlier planned. Paet said that by ratifying the treaty, Estonia would show its wish to move in the direction of a stronger, more efficient and more democratic European Union. "Estonia would say [by passing the treaty] that we must step up our joint activity in those areas where there is an interest to increase the security and well-being of European Union residents," the minister said.

The Ministry of Social Affairs is planning a draft law that would ban the sale of strong alcohol on a number of public holidays, along with imposing a nationwide ban on the nighttime sale of alcohol. Minister Jaak Aab's idea is to ban the sale of alcohol four days of the year: Mother's Day, Children's Day (June 1), September 1, and Father's Day. A similar idea was previously put forward by Aab's predecessor, Marko Pomerants of the Res Publica party. According to the ministry, banning the sale of alcohol at gas stations and sporting venues would help curb teenage drinking, just like banning alcohol advertisements on television.

Vice President of the European Commission Siim Kallas regards the planned merger of Pro Patria Union and Res Publica as positive, despite the strong competition that the Reform Party, which he used to chair, stands to face. "I admit that it's going to be a serious competitor for the Reform Party," he said. "It is a matter of choice, but there are certain conceptual differences between conservatives and liberals, which is quite evident, especially now that conservatives all over Europe are searching for solutions to the issues that Europe is faced with," he said. "It isn't sensible to gain full control over the entire political landscape." Kallas added that Estonia had too many political parties, and that too much energy was spent on settling issues between parties. "Political parties should be strong enough to have the potential to offer solutions 's and not prevent solutions of other parties from materializing," he observed.