NOT LEGAL NOR ILLEGAL: Based on the experience of European Union countries, Latvia should neither legalize nor prohibit prostitution in the country but should control it, an inter-ministerial working group concluded in Latvia. The working group is drafting new government regulations on restricting prostitution.
NEW BLACK BOOK: An Estonian version of the Black Book of Communism, with a foreword by Estonian President Lennart Meri and a special chapter on Estonia by Prime Minister Mart Laar, will be presented in Tallinn next week. Written by French historians, the 975-page Black Book of Communism is the first survey of the history of Communist regimes throughout the world and their innumerable victims, the publisher of the Estonian version, Varrak, said.
PUTTING THEIR FEET DOWN: Finland and the Baltic states are planning three preventative attacks on drug dealing next spring, Finland's STT news agency reported Dec. 1. Police, customs and border guards in the four countries will simultaneously carry out operations against organized crime.
KEEPING SECRETS: Norwegian Ambassador Per Kristian Pedersen delivered to the Estonian defense ministry a copy of a bilateral agreement on the protection of classified information Nov. 30. A Defense Ministry spokesman said the agreement was necessary for the exchange of classified information for protecting confidential information and for acquisition of high-technology equipment.
PICKING THE TIDBITS: Speaking at a session of the political committee of the European Democratic Union in Tallinn, Prime Minister Mart Laar said Estonia is seeking to maintain the openness that has brought its success and adopt only what is good from the European Union. The sister parties were worried that Estonia might have to change this when it becomes a member of the EU, the prime minister's foreign affairs adviser Simmu Tiik said.
NO HELP NEEDED: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) will close its country office in Estonia from next year as the office has exhausted its functions. Estonia's development since regaining its independence has been in every way remarkable. Estonia is becoming a donor of foreign aid rather than a recipient of aid, representatives of the UNDP said.
WON'T NEED RE-REGISTERING: Estonia is planning to give clergy the right to officialy register marriages by next summer to do away with a Soviet-era relic of double registration of marriages carried out in church. Under existing rules couples wed at church must pay a separate visit to the population registry office to enter their marriage into official papers.
STEADY FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Foreign Affairs Minister Antanas Valionis met foreign diplomats accredited in Vilnius on Dec. 4 to brief them on the new Lithuanian government's foreign policy priorities. The minister said the new government declared unambiguously that Lithuania's strategic priorities - integration with the EU, aspiring to NATO membership and further development of good relations with neighboring countries - would not be changed.
PREPARING FOR MERGER: Chairman of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party Vytenis Andriukaitis said reports that some members of the party are against a merger with the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party should not cause great concern . Reports in the media say the chairmen of four LSDP branches issued an appeal to their party colleagues saying that the merger would not be beneficial to Social Democrats and, therefore, it was unacceptable.
AGAINST GAMBLING: A Lithuanian Bishops' Conference appealed to the country's leaders to carefully reconsider and evaluate the possible negative consequences of legalizing gambling. The appeal, signed by the Chairman of the Lithuanian Bishops' Conference, the Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius and Secretary General Jonas Boruta, has been sent to Lithuania Parliament Speaker Arturas Paulauskas and the Lithuanian Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas.