Estonia is going to donate one million U.S. dollars to support the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet announced Dec. 17. Speaking at a conference of donors for the Middle East peace process in Paris, Paet said the donation, which will be done over the 2008 - 10 period, will be Estonia's largest contribution yet to settling global conflicts. "Let's hope it will facilitate the emergence of a Palestinian state, including the establishment of an efficient security force, and avert further armed actions against the residents of Israel," Paet said.
The government on Dec. 13 endorsed and introduced in Parliament an amendment that would create tougher punishments for traffic violators. According to the bill, suspending people's licenses would be a main punishment, unlike now, when it's an additional punishment, a spokesman for the government told BNS. The punishment for drunken driving will depend on the rate of the degree of intoxication. According to the bill driving with over 0.2 per mill blood alcohol content is a misdemeanor and over 0.5 per mill a criminal offense. The bill also provides a written warning procedure to be applied in case of a recording of a traffic violation by means of an automatic traffic surveillance device on photograph, film or other medium.
Starting from Dec. 14 vehicles longer than 12 meters and articulated trucks are banned on Fridays between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. from driving on the stretch of the Tallinn-Tartu highway between Juri just outside Tallinn and the Karevere junction near Tartu. The ban will stay in force until April. The purpose of the ban is to increase road safety, and the police will be watching closely to make sure everyone complies. The restriction does not apply to intercity coaches or milk trucks. The road authority recommends large vehicles to take either the Piibe or the Viljandi highway during the restricted hours.
The national police chiefs of Estonia and Finland signed a cooperation memorandum Dec. 14 under which the two countries will exchange DNA profiles in order to better combat crime "The aim of the pilot project is to help solve unsolved crimes," Estonia's National Police Commissioner Raivo Aeg said just before the agreement was inked. Under the project, DNA samples obtained from crime scenes that cannot be linked to any person in the database of the country where the crime was committed would also be checked against DNA profiles in the other country's database.
An honorary consulate of the Principality of Monaco will be opened in the Nordic Forum hotel in Tallinn, the online issue of the Eesti Ekspress weekly reported. Monaco's Prince Albert II could attend opening of the honorary consul's office, the paper wrote. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mariann Sudakov said the Ministry had given its agreement to the candidate for honorary consul, but as no official operating license had been issued yet, the name could not be made public.