Baltic Timeline

  • 2002-09-26
Ten years ago

Estonia's newly elected Parliament elects former Foreign Minister and Ambassador to Finland Lennart Meri president. In the 101-seat legislature, 59 members vote for Meri. The former chairman of Estonia's Supreme Soviet, Arnold Ruutel, finishes second with 31 votes. Meri represents the Fatherland coalition of right-wing parties, which has a slim majority of 51 seats in the Parliament.

The Lithuanian government decides to join its Baltic neighbors and phase out the Russian ruble by Oct. 1. The "talonas" (coupons), commonly referred to as "vagnorkas" after Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius, is to be recognized as the country's official currency. The talonas were introduced more than a year ago as a type of ration coupon in the face of a ruble shortage.

Estonia is denied membership in the Council of Europe. Although the council deems the recent parliamentary elections in the country free and fair, the president of its parliamentary assembly says they are not "full." His comments are aimed at the large Russian population not allowed to vote.

Five years ago

In a decision welcomed by Latvian diplomats, the Council of Europe decides to open a human rights monitoring procedure in Latvia. On Sept. 22 during the fourth part of the 1997 sitting of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, the monitoring committee voted to send two rapporteurs to investigate Latvia's human rights situation. "Latvia has no objection to being monitored," said the head of the Latvian delegation, Juris Sinka, in an interview with The Baltic Times.

"What Kind of State do You Want?" is the name of a new governmental manifesto published Sept. 29 that leaves officials up in arms over its intent. The leader of the opposition Reform Party, Siim Kallas, said the manifesto circulated by Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves was obviously a product of good intentions but left its goal unclear. "I don't see this text having any sense because at this point nothing new has been said," Kallas told the Baltic News Service. The leader of the opposition Reform Party said the main question left open was about what the manifesto was aiming at. "I don't understand what should happen next now."

Three years after the ferry Estonia sank in the storm-torn Baltic Sea, Sweden dedicates a memorial to the 852 victims which some say they hope will calm the grief in relatives' hearts. Parliament Speaker Birgitta Dahl in her dedication speech spoke of the hard work of coming to grips with loss and said, "We all need support in this work...symbols, tokens." The memorial is three granite walls inscribed with the victims names set into a hillside. "It is a good place, a place I can come to," said Bengt-Olov Naelsen, whose wife died on the Estonia. "But I still have many questions." The ship sank Sept. 28, 1994, en route from Stockholm to Tallinn.