Estonia ranks 27th worldwide with a score of 6.5 in this year's Corruption Perceptions Index released Sept. 22. Last year Estonia placed 28th, also with a score of 6.5. The index is compiled by the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International and spans 180 nations. The three cleanest countries are Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden, each attaining a score of 9.3. Somalia sits at the bottom of the scoreboard with 1. The index score relates to perceptions of the level of corruption and ranges between zero, which is highly corrupt, and 10, which is very clean.
Ongoing budget debates prevented the head of the Estonian government, Andrus Ansip, from attending his scheduled visit to Georgia. The original plan was for Ansip's tour to commence today; government spokespeople are currently unable to confirm when the prime minister's trip will now take place. After the Russia-Georgia conflict erupted, a spokesperson for Ansip told the press that the prime minister planned to visit Georgia as soon as possible. The budget talks wound up Monday with the government reaching agreement on a balanced budget for 2009, with spending and revenues balanced at 98.8 billion kroons (6.3 billion euros).
The situation for ethnic minorities in Estonia is getting worse from year to year, a congress held over the weekend found. Rafik Grigorjan, who chairs the minority-rights group that convened the congress, told the press that the situation causes concern and keeps deteriorating by all indicators. "Ethnic minorities in Estonia have been lacking the opportunity to obtain education in their native language for a long time. There was a time when more than 110 ethnic minorities' Sunday schools were active in this country, but only nine remain," he said. Participants delegated to the congress by almost 100 organizations adopted two resolutions. The chamber of representatives of ethnic minorities, established in summer 2007, has more than 200 organizations as its members.
On Sept. 19, a number of Baltic institutions, including the Estonian University of Life Sciences and the Estonian Research Institute of Agriculture, signed a cooperation agreement for issuing and developing the international agricultural research journal Agronomy Research. The establishment of the journal in 2003 was initiated by the Estonian University of Life Sciences in order to broaden the publication opportunities for agricultural researchers. When further development seemed restricted due to Estonia's limited resources, pan-Baltic negotiations were initiated. On Sept. 19, these discussions were formalized by the signing of the cooperation agreement. The agreement forms a foundation for the increasing internationalization of the journal, deepening Baltic cooperation in the field of agricultural research. The journal is now setting its sights on involving other Eastern European countries in the project.