German company puts pressure on Tallinn

  • 2003-09-18
  • Baltic Business News
TALLINN - The German company Polytan has threatened to sue the city of Tallinn if it
fails to pay 6.5 million kroons (415,000 euros) for the repair of Kadriorg
Stadium, located east of the capital's center.
Polytan has rallied up a significant number of German politicians to support
the case against Tallinn's administration.
Most recently, the city government received a letter from Otto Wiesheule,
minister of economic affairs, transport and technology for Bavaria.
German MPs have also been writing letters to the city government.
MP Rein Lang, former deputy mayor of Tallinn, said that the pressure applied
by German politicians was incredible. "One Bundestag MP wrote us an
extremely rude letter, threatening that Estonia would not be accepted to the
European Union if it does not pay up. We filed all such letters in a
dustbin," said Lang, adding that, as a lawyer, he had no doubt that the city
would win the court case if it were to take place. "The company simply did
not fulfill its part of the contract."
Meanwhile, Peeter Lepik, who represents Polytan in legal matters, said that
if no satisfactory outcome were reached, the company would be forced to seek
court assistance.
Before the Estonian law firm that represents Polytan made its ultimatum to
the city government, the Germans attempted to put pressure directly on Edgar
Savisaar, mayor of Tallinn. Last summer then-German Ambassador to Estonia
Gerhard Schrombgens wrote a letter to Savisaar in which he said the action
of Tallinn city government was problematic in the light of European law.
The 2 million euro construction project did not end as scheduled by summer
2001 and the stadium was unable to host an international sport event that
was included in the European track and field calendar.
"This is a shame that the stadium was not completed in time," said Peeter
Tisler, organizer of the event.
Olavi Sikkal, director of the stadium, said that he has numerous pictures of
puddles of rain on the renovated track. "Frankly speaking, the Germans were
very arrogant toward us," said Sikka, who asked a Finnish stadium expert for
advice in the dispute with Germans.
In the opinion of Polytan, the city government is to blame for causing the
construction setbacks through poor handling of building matters.
"Synthetic track material cannot be placed on wet undersurface," explained
Lepik, adding that rainy conditions had caused the delay.
In his response to the German ambassador, Mayor Savisaar said that there
were no weather conditions at the time of the renovation that would have
caused a construction delay.
The repair work was accepted only in January 2002, half a year later than
planned. For each overdue day, the contract entitled the city to request
150,000 kroons. In six months, the damages under this agreement have grown
to 27 million kroons.
In light of this projected compensation, the city has proposed reducing its
claim for damages to 6.5 million kroons ­ the exact amount it owes the
company ‹ which means that it would not have to pay anything to the Germans.
In response to this offer, Polytan asked German MP Hans Buttner to send a
letter to Mayor Savisaar stating that the solution proposed by the city
government was unacceptable in the light of European law practice.