Eesti in brief - 2008-11-19

  • 2008-11-19
The Estonian parliament has voted to amend the laws surrounding election disputes in the Tallinn City Council, proposed by Estonia's Justice Chancellor Indrek Teder. According to Teder, the present rules contradict the Constitution. Teder proposed to amend the Local Election Act as to the formation of electoral districts in Tallinn, according to the borough principle and special distribution of mandates, contradicts the principle of proportionality and uniformity of elections. "When different districts command a very different number of mandates, the rule for the candidates is that the fewer mandates the electoral district has the more difficult it is for a candidate to make it to the council," said Teder. In the last elections, according to Teder, there were on average 6,832 voters per city council seat from the district of Lasnamae, while from another district, Pirita, there were 1,810. In Lasnamae overall there were 88,812 voters, while in Pirita there were 9,050. Teder claims that the unequal weight of individual votes in different districts means unequal opportunities. The Justice Chancellor thinks that the principle of proportional election means that the lineup of the council must correspond as much as possible to the political preferences of voters on the day of elections.

Twenty nine experts from Estonia have visited Georgia so far this year. According to Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Antsip, Estonia is closely working with Georgia in development cooperation. Estonian experts from the Center for Enterprise and Development of Harju County, the e-Governance Academy, the Open Society Institute, the Boarder Guard Board, the State Chancellery, the Public Broadcasting and the Public Service Academy, paid visits to Georgia. Tallinn University arranges competence training for Georgian specialist and Tartu vocational education center supports vocational education in Georgia. European College of Tartu University and Estonian School of Diplomacy are also working on different projects with Georgia. Estonia has contributed four experts to the crisis counseling mission with the UNICEF representation in Tbilisi, five experts to the mine countermeasures mission and six to international missions to help Georgia to eliminate the damage from the conflict that happened in August.

The Estonian Foreign Ministry has allocated 32,000 euros to the UNICEF children's fund. This money will go toward the reconstruction of schools and education facilities destroyed by the storm in Haiti. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that the country has an opportunity to contribute to the harmed Haitian educational system and by this to help the reconstruction of the country, which recently suffered from four strong storms. Haiti was hit by storms Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike in August and September this year. It has been one of the most disastrous natural catastrophes in the history of the Caribbean nation. Most of buildings, crops, roads and industrial infrastructure are destroyed. Some 700 people were killed and 800,000 affected by the crisis. The total damage of the country may exceed 770 million euro. The Estonian Foreign Ministry's development and humanitarian aid budget this year is about 3,847,000 euro.