Tax and Customs Board department deputy director Raul Koppelmaa said that an estimated 4,000-5,000 people in Estonia are involved in smuggling and marketing contraband cigarettes, reports Public Broadcasting. “The board’s aim is to make the life of dealers of contraband cigarettes as uncomfortable as possible and reduce the share of smuggled cigarettes in the marketplace, to less than 14 percent by 2016, according to the empty pack study,” explained Koppelmaa. According to the latest so-called empty pack study, the share of smuggled cigarettes is now about 20 percent in Estonia. Until some years ago, travelers brought huge amounts of both legal and illegal cigarettes from Russia. For example, in 2012, more than 90 percent of all those who crossed the border at Narva brought in at least 40 cigarettes with each border-crossing, and some of these individuals made several trips per day. Stricter restrictions on the importation of excise goods closed that activity down almost completely. The Estonian state was deprived of around 30 million euros of taxes because of illegal cigarettes last year.
It was announced that Dr. Argo Parts is a participant in the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team four-week mission to Monrovia, Liberia to help prevent the spread of the outbreak of Ebola, reports Pubic Broadcasting. The task of the 13-member international team is to support international coordination of the Ebola disease outbreak prevention effort. Since 2003, Dr. Parts has been on missions under the auspices of the United Nations on seven occasions. Dr. Parts specializes as an infectious diseases physician. Estonia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has this year supported the UN Coordination Board for Humanitarian Affairs and UNDAC that is part of it, with 430,000 euros. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has this year allocated 60,000 euros to WHO to fight the spread of Ebola in Africa.
Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian ministers from their respective Interior Ministries signed an agreement setting up a joint security issues coordination committee, reports Postimees Online. “Taking into account Russia’s aggressive behavior in the Ukraine and the abduction of an Estonian citizen from the Estonian territory by Russian special services, the Baltic countries must work closely to ensure the security of our states better,” said Estonian Interior Minister Hanno Pevkur. He added that such cooperation to find new opportunities and coordination of activities is the task of the new committee. The coordination committee will include Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian internal security experts, whose task is to develop common measures strengthening internal security and ensure their coordinated implementation. The ministry said the first steps have already been taken to ensure the collective security. Already on Sept. 5, interior ministers of the Baltic States agreed in Vilnius upon cooperation of the three states’ police special units for fighting terrorists and extremists.