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Eesti in brief - 2012-05-10

  • 2012-05-09

This year’s “Let’s Do It” voluntary work day on Saturday had at least 30,382 people participating, many more than had registered for it, reports Public Broadcasting. 1,220 different events took place in order to do something for one’s home town or community, initiators said. The most active participants were in Tallinn and Harjumaa county with 8,032 people, followed by Saaremaa island’s 3,138 and Tartu county’s 2,546. Head of the day, Estonian Nature Foundation board member Tarmo Tuur, said that many more people had been present than expected, especially young people but also a lot of elderly people. Many locations gave positive comments about less garbage being around. While the first “Let’s Do It” campaign in 2008 focused on cleaning Estonian nature of garbage and the second one in 2009 on the “My Estonia” idea-generation campaign, this year the majority of the voluntary work initiatives focused on cleaning the neighborhood of garbage or fixing up some community building or object.

Estonian Defense Minister Mart Laar handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Andrus Ansip on Saturday, after suffering a stroke two months ago, reports Public Broadcasting. “I am used to working with full dedication; I cannot do that at the moment. Thus I have decided to resign,” said Laar. He said he wants to contribute to the development of the state in the future, too. Laar (51) suffered a serious stroke, caused by hypertension, on Feb. 18. Currently Education and Science Minister Jaak Aaviksoo is also the acting Defense Minister. The Pro Patria and Res Publica Party board will discuss a new candidate for Defense Minister. Prime Minister Ansip said that he has received Laar’s resignation and according to the laws has one month to send it to the president. Ansip said that it would be most natural if PRU’s chairman Urmas Reinsalu took over the Defense Minister’s job. Reinsalu (35) was elected PRU’s chairman in January, after previous chairman Laar had announced last year he would not be running in the party chairman’s elections anymore.

In the first three months of this year, Estonian border guard officials caught 53 people trying to enter Estonia illegally, while this number was 20 for the first three months last year, reports Eesti Paevaleht. Police and Border Guard Board information bureau head Ago Tikk said that the reason was simple: smarter immigrants have found a comfortable and cheap way of how to try to get to Western Europe risk free. “It is in essence a 100 percent risk free undertaking to enter the territory of a member state with a legally valid visa; the main risk is refusal to grant a visa, and the risk generally is the cost of a visa fee. Compared to acquiring forged documents or running across the land border on all fours, it is considerably cheaper,” said Tikk. Out of the 53 illegal border crossers caught in the first quarter of this year, 36 tried to get to the Schengen area with a visa applied for an innocent purpose. “Applying for a visa for participating in business, tourism or sports events, training camps, culture festivals, in order to try and get to the EU to live there illegally is frequent. An interesting example we could cite is the wish of an alleged Nigerian bicycle Olympic team to come to Estonia to participate at outdoors training in February,” said Tikk.