Eesti in brief - 2006-11-29

  • 2006-11-29
A group of climbers from Estonia 's one of the flattest countries on earth 's have set a new record for climbing the highest peak in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. The group of 43 climbers set out for the summit last week, and on Nov. 26, 37 of the climbers reached their goal. Despite losing six members along the way to fatigue, the Estonians still broke a record for the biggest group to collectively reach the summit. The previous record was set by 32 American climbers in 2005. Kilimanjaro rises 5,895 meters above the plains of Tanzania in central Africa. The highest peak in Estonia is Suur Munamagi, or Big Egg Mountain, which reaches a not-so-dizzying height of just 318 meters.

The Economist magazine has ranked Estonia as a flawed democracy, listing it 33rd in a study of democratic freedom in 167 countries. While the first 26 on the list were named "fully democratic," Estonia lagged in terms of political participation. Each of the nations was rated according to 60 indicators, including elections, civil liberties, the function of the government and political culture. Out of 10 points, Estonia scored 9.58 for its electoral process and pluralism, 7.5 points for its government functioning, 7.5 points for political culture, 9.12 points for civil liberties, but just 5 points for political participation. The final score put Estonia in the category of "flawed democracies," just a few points shy of being considered "fully democratic," according to the magazine. Lithuania was ranked at 34th place and Latvia 43rd. The magazine ranked Sweden as the world leader, followed by Iceland and the Netherlands.

Hoping to capitalize on rising concerns about environmental issues, a group of activists have formed a new party 's the Greens of Estonia. The party will run candidates in the forthcoming spring elections, and says it expects to yield five percent of the votes. It is the second time a green party has been established. The first of its kind emerged in 1991, only to die out and be subsumed by the Center Party. The group already appears to have alliances with the main opposition party, the Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica. Union party member Jaak Aaviksoo praised the creation of the new green party, and said Estonians were now thinking more about the environment in their political decisions. Aaviksoo said many people were concerned about certain environmentally unhealthy activities, such as the continued mining of oil shale for energy.