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Estonian Review: May 3-9, 2006

12.05.2006

FOREIGN NEWS
DOMESTIC NEWS
DEFENCE NEWS
ECONOMIC NEWS
MISC


Public Opinion on the European Union New Survey!


ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIED CONSTITUTIONAL TREATY FOR EUROPE

May 9
- Riigikogu ratified the Constitutional Treaty for Europe. 73 MPs voted for the Treaty, 1 was against and nobody abstained.
According to Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet there is no doubt that the Constitutional Treaty for Europe is, at the moment, the best treaty available. "It is a good treaty for Europe, and for Estonia," Paet said. Foreign Minister emphasised that the ratification of the Constitutional Treaty for Europe clearly shows that Estonia wishes to proceed towards a stronger, more efficient, and more democratic European Union. "Estonia is declaring that we must increase the efficiency of common endeavours in spheres where it would benefit the security and welfare of the people living in the European Union," Minister Paet stated. "We are showing that we are prepared to face the challenges confronting the EU," he added. The CTE has been ratified by 15 States and approved by the European Parliament. In two Member States the Treaty was rejected with a referendum.


Statement of PM on Ratification of the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe

May 9
- Estonia is the 15th European Union member state to ratify the Treaty.
We know that ratification in 25 member states is required for the Treaty to enter into force. Hence, we cannot be sure that the Treaty will enter into force in the near future. Nevertheless, I believe that the ratification completed by us is an important step considering the future of the entire European Union. With this step, we are showing that we wish to have a say in shaping the future of the European Union. I would like to draw a parallel between the decision made in the Riigikogu and the proposal made by French Foreign Minister Robert Shuman 56 years ago today. The idea to establish the European Coal and Steel Community was a bold plan at that time, the implementation of which was anything but certain. It was a politically risky step. I dare say that it would have failed at a referendum. However, Robert Schuman decided to present the idea because he believed back then as we believe today that the peace and welfare of Europe can only be founded on cooperation that stems from strong connections - common agreements and institutions that integrate the states, preventing suppression and domination. The Treaty is not a mere legal document. It also embodies certain values: the principles upholding democracy, a state based on the rule of law, interstate cooperation and cultural diversity. These are the same principles on which Robert Schuman relied in his 9th May declaration. By ratifying the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe we confirmed that Estonia aims to preserve and develop these values.


President of European Parliament Hailed Estonian Ratification of EU Charter

May 9
- The president of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, has welcomed the ratification of the European Constitutional Treaty by the Estonian parliament.
It is deeply symbolic that on the day marked as Europe Day the Estonian parliament ratified by a large majority the European Constitutional Treaty. Estonia thus became the 15th member state of the EU to ratify the treaty, Borrell said addressing 250 members of national legislatures and the European Parliament in Brussels. Borrell expressed on his own and the European Parliament's behalf delight at such a unanimous decision as demonstrated by the Estonian parliament. In his words, Estonia has shown itself to be a country that thinks about the future of Europe. Before Estonia, the Constitutional Treaty was ratified by Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Greece, Slovakia, Spain, Austria, Germany, Latvia, Cyprus, Malta and Luxembourg, AFP said. The Belgian parliament too has endorsed the EU charter but it still requires the government's approval and the king's signature.



FOREIGN NEWS

Georgian Minister Counts on Estonian Support in Ties with EU

May 8
- Georgia's visiting state minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration Giorgi Baramidze thanked Estonia for support for his country's democratic reform process and voiced the hope Estonia can also explain Georgia's aims in the European Union.
Baramidze met during his visit to Estonia with Foreign Minister Urmas Paet who reaffirmed Estonia's support to Georgia's bid for NATO membership. "Georgia has made convincing progress and therefore we back speedy granting to Georgia of an intensified dialogue with NATO," he said.
Speaking about Georgia's EU integration, the Estonian minister stressed that it is essential for the bloc to view each country's development separately rather than the South Caucasian region as an integral whole.
The minister observed that in co-operation with countries involved in the EU's neighbourhood policy concrete steps are needed, one of which could be visa facilitation between Georgia and EU countries.
At a meeting with the chairman of the parliament Toomas Varek, Baramidze said that Georgia might achieve sooner than planned the goals set for the Caucasian region by the EU's executive Commission. "Georgia is able to fulfil the present five-year plan, which applies also to Armenia and Azerbaijan, in three years. A three-year target would enable the country to carry on with current democratic reforms even more dynamically," he said.
Baramidze gave an overview of the last two years' changes in his country, highlighting in particular the success of the political and economic reforms. In his words, Georgia's primary foreign policy objective is membership of NATO and, in the longer term, integration into the EU.


FM Thanked Spain for Opening Labour Market to New EU Countries

May 4
- Foreign Minister Urmas Paet thanked Spanish colleague Miguel Ángel Moratinos during his visit to Estonia for dropping limitations to the free movement of labour as of May 1.
At the meeting, the EU enlargement and promotion of Neighbourhood Policy were also discussed. Foreign Minister Moratinos expressed support to Estonia's accession to the euro-zone and the Schengen space, and said that Spain wishes similarly to Estonia to continue dynamic development of its society and economy.
The Spanish foreign minister welcomed Estonia's decision to ratify the Constitutional Treaty for Europe on Europe day, May 9 in Riigikogu. According to Moratinos it is important for Europe to continue with the ratification process of the CTE.
Estonian and Spanish foreign ministers also spoke about exchanging regional expertise and information and agreed to start series of seminars about the Northern Dimension and the Mediterranean region.
Foreign Minister also met with President Arnold Rüütel and Prime Minister Andrus Ansip.


PMs of Estonia and Denmark Desire Liberal and Strong EU

May 5
- Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen confirmed at their meeting in Copenhagen that the relations between the two countries had been good all the time. According to Andrus Ansip, Denmark's support for Estonia has always been important.
Both Prime Ministers stated that Denmark and Estonia consider the same areas to be essential for the continued strengthening of the Union. For instance, both states hold the development of competitiveness and the prevention of protectionism to be important in order to ensure continued economic growth and creation of jobs. Equally important in creating a state of well-being is the free movement of labour and services.
The Prime Ministers confirmed their support for the continued expansion of the European Union. According to Ansip and Rasmussen, the member states should remain committed to their previously made decisions regarding expansion. "We know from our own experience that the desire to join the European Union is good motivation for states to carry out the necessary political and economic reforms. The preservation of this motivation in the neighbourhood of the European Union is also critical for the security and harmonious development of the Union", said Ansip. The Prime Ministers emphasised the need to keep the promises made to the Western Balkan States and expressed hope that the preparations made by Romania and Bulgaria would be sufficient to allow their accession to the Union on 1 January 2007.


President Attended the Summit of Baltic Sea and Black Sea countries

May 4
- President Arnold Rüütel delivered a speech at the Summit of the Baltic Sea and Black Sea countries and met with the heads of delegations from several countries.
The Vilnius conference of Baltic and Black Sea countries strengthened Black Sea countries' resolve to stay on the chosen path of democracy, the President of Estonia said.
In his speech President Rüütel introduced Estonia's reform experiences, and added that despite the limitations posed by the smallness of the state, it also opens up opportunities for success if we have skills and courage to use them. "Keeping in mind a clear goal makes it possible to even look beyond the progress being made towards the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which, to some countries, might seem too slow. But the EU and NATO are only means for achieving the main goal of enhancing the security and increasing the welfare of the people," the Head of Estonian state said, and added, "We are guided by the principle that the state must serve the people, and not the other way round."
President Arnold Rüütel met during the conference with his Lithuanian counterpart, Valdas Adamkus.
According to Rüütel, the summit strengthened the resolve of democracy-building countries in the Black Sea region and elsewhere to stick to the chosen path.
Adamkus underlined that the Baltic states and other European Union and NATO countries participating in the conference showed readiness to promote the enlargement of the democratic belt with their experience and knowledge.
"In the focus of the Vilnius conference was a clear message primarily to countries that have chosen the path of democracy, encouraging them to continue thorough reforms which are inevitable for staying on this road. At the same time the conference gave the participating countries an opportunity to show their readiness for vigorous action in the field of the European Union's neighbourhood policy.
President Rüütel also met with Viktor Yushchenko, Ukrainian President. It was mutually concluded at the meeting that bilateral relations between the two countries were good; Estonian president expressed our continuous support to Ukraine's aspirations towards Euroatlantic integration. Ukraine's domestic political situation was also touched upon. President Rüütel invited his Ukrainian colleague to visit Estonia, and Ukraine is expecting Estonian Prime Minister to visit Ukraine.
The topics discussed at a bilateral meeting with Polish President Lech Kaczynski, included the development of Via Baltica and co-operation in the field of energy. President Kaczynski announced that in order to diversify its energy sources Poland intends to connect its electricity network with German and Lithuanian networks, and suggested that for treating all energy-related ideas it would be reasonable to hold a regional summit on that topic in the future. President Rüütel introduced Estonia's activities and future plans in energy sector, and invited his Polish colleague to a visit to Estonia.
The full text of the speech delivered by the President "Small and Dynamic: the Estonian Experience" is available on the Internet at: www.president.ee


President: EU Must Be Union of Countries not Federation

May 9
- Creation of a union with strong centralized power has to be ruled out when speaking about the future of the European Union, the Estonian president said.
"We must continually emphasize that the European Union will also in the future remain a union of countries, not a federation, so as to avoid the temptation of unitary development," Arnold Rüütel said at a conference on the future of the EU in Paide, central Estonia.
Speaking about the future enlargement of the EU, Rüütel said Estonia can have only one position - to stick up for rules that apply equally to all.
The EU neighbourhood policy allows to involve in the European integration process also countries tired of totalitarian rule which do not yet meet the necessary criteria but desire to share the common values, the president added.


President Sent a Letter of Condolences to Armenia

May 3
- President Arnold Rüütel sent a letter of condolences to the Armenian President Robert Kocharian. In his letter the President of the Republic, on behalf of himself and the people of Estonia, expressed condolences on the occasion of the plane crash into the Black Sea.


Internal Security Partnership Declaration Accepted in Vienna

May 5
- Interior Minister Kalle Laanet and Police Commissioner Raivo Aeg participated in an internal security conference in Vienna, where the importance of internal security in relations between European Union member states and their neighbours was discussed.
"We can't jut sit around and wait until international crime floods the entire European Union before we do something," said Minister Laanet. “We have to provide preventative assistance to those countries where the problems begin. This kind of approach is bound to produce better results in battling the international drug trade, terrorism and illegal immigration.”
Confirming these common interests, an internal security partnership declaration was accepted in Vienna the goal of which is to develop co-operation between member states and their neighbours in freedom, security and legal matters. The declaration is designed to direct European Union member states' internal security-based relations with outside countries and to strengthen cooperation within the EU in matters of justice and internal affairs.


Estonia to Launch Refurbishment of New Paris Embassy

May 3
- Estonia is planning this year to launch refurbishment of the country's new embassy building in central Paris.
The new embassy building is situated at No 17, Rue de la Baume.
The property lies in the 8th arrondissement near Monceau Park. At present the Estonian embassy in France works at 46, Rue Pierre Charron.


Estonian Justice Minister Said Russia Must Pull out Troops from Moldova

May 8
- Estonia supports immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Moldova, Justice Minister Rein Lang emphasized at last week's meeting with his opposite number, Victoria Iftod.
According to the ´Minister, the Estonian government insists that Russia meet unconditionally its international commitments and withdraw its troops from the Moldovan territory without delay. The minister further pledged assistance to harmonize Moldovan laws with the European Union legislation.
Further judicial co-operation between Estonia and Moldova was one of the issues discussed during the visit. According to Lang, the Moldovan side showed great interest in the development of the Estonian prison system till now and future plans.
During the visit the Estonian delegation toured also the territory controlled by the Transnistrian separatists.


Andre Pung Appointed Estonia's Next Ambassador to Ireland

May 5
- President Arnold Rüütel signed a resolution to appoint Andre Pung Estonia's ambassador to Ireland.
Rüütel at the same time recalled the incumbent ambassador, Simmu Tiik.
Pung has earlier served as consul general in St. Petersburg, Russia.


Russian Aircraft Made Observation Flight over Estonia

May 9
- A Russian aircraft made an observation flight over Estonia in the framework of the Open Skies Treaty.
The aircraft carried a crew of 20 including observers. Estonian flight controllers were also be on board the plane during the flight to monitor the activity of observers and adherence to the flight plan.
The Open Skies Treaty is part of the security and confidence-building measures of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. It was signed in Helsinki in 1992 and stepped into force in 2002. The treaty currently has 33 states parties, among them all member countries of NATO.
Estonia joined the Open Skies Treaty in 2005, committing itself thereby to receiving up to four other participating states' observation flights annually.
Russia carried out the first observation flight over Estonia in November 2005.



DOMESTIC NEWS

EU Schengen Facility Experts Pleased with Estonia's Progress

May 5
- Experts of the European Commission's Schengen Facility have given a positive evaluation of the work done by Estonia.
The experts summed up their week-long visit to Estonia and gave a positive assessment of the functioning of the program's management and control systems worked out in Estonia.
Two visiting representatives of the European Commission studied the Interior Ministry's and partner agencies' work to implement the Schengen Facility program. They also examined how Estonia has taken into consideration the recommendations and observations made by evaluators last year.
Special attention this time around was paid to the procurement procedure and procedural rules.
The evaluators noted in particular the good co-operation between the Interior Ministry and partner agencies.
The report of the European Commission's evaluation mission will be drawn up within two months.


MEP Ilves - Estonia Needs Foreign Politically Engaged President

May 7
- Estonian interests require a foreign politically active president, presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Reform Party and Pro Patria Union Toomas Hendrik Ilves said.
Speaking at a meeting of the SDP's extended council in Pärnu, Ilves urged political parties debating over the development of Estonia to not set the president's domestic and foreign policy tasks against each other.
"These fields are related amongst themselves and those ties are getting ever closer in a globalizing world," Ilves said.
In Ilves' opinion, underestimating of the president's foreign policy role would give a false signal as if the Estonian foreign policy was ready.
"It is for Estonia to choose what our role in the debate over the so-called core Europe idea launched by some older member states of the European Union will be. What is Estonia's response? Shall we look at those processes from the side or influence them in the interest of Estonia's future, using all the means at the disposal of the state and with the support of all officials appointed for this?" he said.
According to Ilves, the president is definitely one of the persons who has the necessary position and authority to defend Estonian interests at meetings with his colleagues.
The president's pivotal domestic policy role is in Ilves' view to raise existentially essential topics, initiate debates and develop the presidential institution into a think tank independent of party policies.
Energy and human resources, their quality and the quality of life in general are the subjects which Estonia inevitably has to deal with, Ilves said.
"It is time to realize that the opening of borders and free movement of labor make countries compete in the sphere of the quality of life rather than taxation systems," he observed.


In the Opinion of One Half of Residents, Life After Joining the EU Has Not Changed Substantially

May 3
- According to the survey one half of residents (50%) believe that life in Estonia has not changed during the two years of Estonia's membership in the European Union, 30% are of the opinion that life has become better and only 15% believe that life has become worse.
More than one half (53%) of Estonia's residents considered the available information on the European Union to be sufficient. More information on the EU was desired by 36% of the respondents. The situation is different among non-Estonians, where 52% of the respondents would like to have more information on the EU.
According to the survey, the support of Estonian citizens between the age of 15 and 74 for Estonia's membership in the European Union remained stable. In April, it was 67%.
The full survey is available on the website of the State Chancellery:
http://www.riigikantselei.ee/?id=372


Estonians Not Afraid of Globalization - Survey

May 8
- Estonian residents stand out by their positive perception of globalization in a recent special study by Eurobarometer.
The survey showed that 65 percent of Estonians are positive about the enlargement of the European Union and 51 percent believe the opening-up of markets will give domestic companies good opportunities for development.
Thirty-seven percent of all European citizens likewise believe enlargement will bring in its wake economic success, but are more inclined than Estonians to perceive in globalization a threat to the economy and workforce of their country.
According to the study, Estonians are very optimistic and one out of two is convinced things are going in the right direction in Estonia. In Europe as a whole, this opinion is shared by one out of three respondents.
Some 43 percent of all European citizens but only 16 percent of the Estonian interviewees think things are going in the wrong direction.
Estonians more than the average European associate the EU with being modern, democratic and protective. Other notions Estonians spontaneously connect with the EU are tourism, easier work and study opportunities, openness of borders and better movement opportunities, as well as the common currency euro.
Regarding the future of Europe, Estonians attach considerably more importance than other Europeans to equal standards of living and strict fixing of the bloc's external borders.
Introduction of the common euro currency in all member states is viewed as essential for the future of Europe by 26 percent of all Europeans and 22 percent of Estonian residents. Joint armed forces are backed by approximately one out of ten persons in Estonia and Europe alike. People in Estonia and elsewhere in the European Union assess their economic status pretty much the same way, thus, payment of monthly bills causes no problems to 62 percent of Estonian and 57 percent of EU respondents.



DEFENCE NEWS

Estonian Security Police Considered Antiterror Exercise Successful

May 3
- Tõnu Miilvee, chief superintendent of the Estonian Security Police, the Estonian head of the Baltic countries' joint anti-terror excerise Shamrock Key 2006, finds the exercise was a success.
Miilvee said that the aims set were achieved and the joint exercise, preparations to which had lasted for a whole year, had been successful. "The Estonian coordination capability in the international fight against terror certainly increased and contacts with partners established in the course of the exercise will further improve antiterror co-operation," he said.
Miilvee said that although they were working in the name of there being no reason to actually apply these skills, there were still areas of crisis in the world and therefore it was important to urgently exchange experience and information between partner countries' services and units, in order to raise their anti-terror capability.
NATO partners - military from the United States, Norway and Poland - took part in the exercise in addition to the Baltic countries. In Estonia the active part of the exercise and practical exercises were concluded early Saturday morning.


Estonia, Croatia to Signed Defence Co-operation Memorandum

May 8
- Visiting Defence Minister of Croatia Berislav Roncevic and his Estonian counterpart, Jürgen Ligi, signed a memorandum on bilateral co-operation in defence.
The ministers discussed issues related to their countries' defence co-operation and integration into NATO.
Ligi and Roncevic signed a memorandum of mutual understanding which outlines possible fields for joint action.
The Croatian minister, who is on a three-day working visit to this Baltic state, met also with the chairman of the parliamentary National Defence Committee, Toivo Tootsen, and spent the second half of the day in Tartu to visit the Baltic Defence College.


Reps of Estonian, Russian, Finnish Border Guards Discussed Co-operation

May 4
- A meeting of the steering group of trilateral Estonian-Russian-Finnish border guard co-operation met in Estonia to endorse the plan of co-operation for this year.
An overview of last year's activities was given at the one-day meeting, plans for trilateral maritime rescue exercises were made and members of the secretariats were appointed, the Border Guard Board reported.
Regular meetings of the three countries' border guard officials have taken place since 1994. Two working groups - those of the maritime and the land border - meet twice a year.



ECONOMIC NEWS

Currency Rates in Kroons
(Bank of Estonia)


Work to lay Estlink Land Cable Began in Estonia

May 4
- Work began in Harju County near Tallinn this week to lay the land cable that forms part of the Estlink submarine link between the power grids of Estonia and Finland.
Eighteen kilometers of land cable will be installed in Estonia in parallel on a nine-kilometer clearance with 10-30 centimetersww separating the two cables, depending on location.
The Estlink cable, which will link the Baltic and Finnish electricity systems for the first time, consists of submarine and land segments.
The primary goal of the cable is to supply the Nordic electricity market with electricity generated in the Baltic states. An estimated two terawatt-hours of electricity will be delivered via the cable annually.
The stakeholders in the Estlink project are Eesti Energia, the Latvian power utility Latvenergo and Lithuania's Lietuvos Energija, along with the Finnish utility companies Pohjolan Voima and Helsingin Energia.
The project is estimated to cost 1.7 billion kroons and the cable is due to be operational at the end of this year.


ID Cards to be Used as Means of Payment in Estonia

May 3
- The companies Developers Team and Cooperative introduced a service on the Estonian market in April which allows holders of ID cards to use the card to pay for goods and services, making the service initially available in payment for tickets to entertainment events.
"In order to buy a service or an item, the buyer only needs to have an ID card, while the seller needs a card reader, our software, and a computer," the author of the idea, Gunnar Peipman said.
"If tests are successful, the plan is to work closely with manufacturers of cash register systems so that ID cards could be used as widely as bankcards are used today," he said.
Peipman said he saw combining the loyal customer cards issued by various retailers and service companies into IDs as especially viable.
Before a payment can be made, money has to be transferred to the card-holder's ID card credit account via an online bank.
Estonian Banks Have Issued 1.458 mln Bankcards
May 4 - The five largest Estonian banks had issued 1,458,021 bankcards as of the end of April, including 1,154,336 debit cards and 303,685 credit cards.
The market leader, Hansapank, led the table at the end of April with 778,230 debit cards, 8,229 more than at the end of March. Valid credit cards issued by Hansapank numbered 201,728, including 3,474 new cards that were issued during April.


The Trade was Booming in March

May 3
- According to Statistics Estonia, in March 2006 compared to March of the previous year, the retail sales in retail trade enterprises increased by 18% in constant prices.
In March, the retail sales of goods of retail trade enterprises were 3.3 billion kroons. The growth of retail sales was mainly influenced by retail sale in non-specialised stores with food predominating and in stores selling household goods and appliances, hardware and building materials. In March the common boom of trade started compared to the quiet period of the beginning of the year. Compared to February, the retail sales in retail trade enterprises increased in constant prices by 16%, which in 4% more than the average of four previous years.
The net sales of retail trade enterprises were 4 billion kroons. Compared to February 2006 and March 2005, the growth in current prices was 17%.
In March, the net sales of motor trade enterprises were 3.3 billion kroons, which is about a billion kroons more than a year earlier. Compared to March 2005, the net sales of enterprises selling motor vehicles and automotive fuel increased in current prices by 39%. Compared to February 2006, the net sales of motor trade enterprises increased about one third. The growth was mainly influenced by the increase in prices of fuel.


Declared Incomes Grow by 1/4 in Estonia y-o-y

May 8
- The total sum of incomes declared to the Estonian Tax and Customs Board for 2005 was 49.9 billion kroons, 26 percent more than was declared for 2004.
The total sum of incomes shown in tax returns for 2004 had been 39.5 billion kroons. "The Estonian economy has grown and a lot of incomes have been brought out of the shadow," the director general of the Tax and Customs Board, Enriko Aav, said.
The average income per tax return grew 17.6 percent to 99,864 kroons, corresponding to an average monthly income of 8,333 kroons (EUR 533).
The Tax and Customs Board is refunding taxpayers 1.06 billion kroons this year in overpaid income tax. It has made refunds worth some 920 million kroons by now.


Consumer Price Index Increased in April

May 8
- According to Statistics Estonia, the percentage change of the consumer price index in April 2006 compared to March was 0.7%.
The price change was as follows: goods 0.7%, food, alcohol and tobacco 0.4%, manufactured goods 1.1% and services 0.8%.
In April 2006 compared to March the consumer price index was mainly influenced by the increase in the prices of motor fuel as well as by the increase in the expenditure on housing.
On average, the prices of goods and services in April 2006 were 4.3% higher than in April 2005. Administered prices changed 6.5% and non-administered prices 3.6%.


Estonian Air to End Flights to Manchester, Dublin

May 8
- The Estonian airline Estonian Air said it is about to close direct routes to Manchester and Dublin in the coming months, at the same time adding extra operations on all Scandinavian routes and on the Tallinn-Kiev route as a result of increased demand. "Direct flights to Manchester and Dublin have not justified themselves. At the same time, there is more demand in operations to many other destinations than what we can offer today," Estonian Air Vice President Mart Relve said. Flights to Manchester will be ended from July 1 and flights to Dublin from Sept. 1. Estonian Air earlier this year opened new routes to Simferopol, Ukraine, and Dubrovnik, Croatia, and will launch regular flights to Barcelona from mid-May. "Dubrovnik has become very popular and the other new destinations of this season are selling very well too," Relve said.
In the autumn flights to Paris and Hamburg will be suspended for winter, to be resumed at the start of the 2007 summer traffic season.
Estonian Air operates regular flights to 17 destinations in Europe. The owners of Estonian Air are the Estonian state, SAS Group and the investment bank Cresco.


Pulp Mill Launched in Estonia's Kunda to Sell Output to China

May 9
- The output of the Estonian Cell pulp mill launched in the north Estonian town of Kunda will be exported to China for the time being, until the quality of its aspen wood pulp meets European standards.
Production manager of the company Lauri Raid confirmed the first 1,300 tons of the pulp had come off the line. But he added that the ouput would be supplied to its main clients, central European paper mills, only after two years when all the settings had been made. The aspen pulp the mill produces is suitable to make soft paper and carboard. The mill, owned by the Austrian Heinzel Group, the Norwegian wood pulp company Larvik Cell and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, will employ 76 people in five shifts.


Anvar Samost to become head of BNS Group

May 5
- Anvar Samost, executive editor-in-chief of BNS Estonia and managing director of the Estonian unit of Baltic News Service, has been appointed managing director of Baltic News Service effective from Aug. 1, 2006.
The current managing director, Kari Väisanen, is moving to work as executive editor-in-chief of the Finnish newspaper Hämeen Sanomat starting from the same date.
Samost intends to focus in the future on growth and business diversification.
The BNS group has subsidiaries in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, employing in all over 160 people. The company operates in five languages and releases on average 1,000 news headlines a day. Starting from 2006 the group has media monitoring subsidiaries in all the three countries.



MISC

GOV Gave EUR 0.34 mln to Preserve Gene Samples

May 4
- The Estonian government decided to give 5.294 million kroons (EUR 0.34 mln) for preserving during 2006 the tissue samples collected by the Estonian Genome Foundation.
When the Estonian Genome Foundation was established it was set out under law that the government would cover the costs related to preservation and scrapping of the samples.
In February this year the government gave one million kroons to preserve the samples. In all, the Ministry of Social Affairs is seeking 6.9 million kroons for preserving the samples this year.
The Estonian Genome Foundation has accumulated tissue samples from about 10,000 residents by now, whereas the original goal was to have the gene samples of at least 100,000 people.
On April 20 this year the Cabinet agreed to a proposal of Social Affairs Minister Jaak Aab to wind up the Estonian Genome Foundation and hand over the assets to Tartu University.





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