Estonia vulnerable to gas supply disruptions

A European Commission “stress test” report says that if Russia were to completely halt gas imports to the EU, more gas will continue to be delivered to homes and companies – if member states cooperate – even in the case of a prolonged six-month disruption. Estonia, however, is among the most vulnerable EU member states.

The report published on Thursday presents the results of a modeling exercise conducted by 38 European countries, including EU member states and neighboring countries. It analyzes different scenarios, in particular a complete halt of Russian gas imports into the EU for a period of six months.

A prolonged supply disruption would have a substantial impact in the EU, with member states in the East and the Energy Community countries (mostly located in Southeast Europe) being affected the most.

Finland, Estonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia would miss at least 60 percent of the gas they need. This means that even private households could be left out in the cold.

Read more from ERR News

700,000 euros found to redirect fish exports

he Agriculture Ministry says it will change the European Fisheries Fund 2007-2013 action plan to divert over 700,000 euros of unused funds to finding new markets for Estonian fisheries after the Russian ban on food imports.

Minister Ivari Padar said the fishing industry is planning to participate in trade fairs in Africa, Asia and Europe, and the ministry has already approved funding for six fairs around the world.

The Estonian part of the fund for the 2007 to 2013 budget period is 112.8 million euros, of which 28.2 million euros is financed from the state budget and the rest by the European Union.

Russia imposed an import ban on meat, fish, dairy, vegetables, fruit and food products, hitting the Estonian fish and dairy sector especially hard.

Source: ERR News

Estonian pharmacies blame Finnish competitor of market abuse

Estonian Association of Pharmacists is demanding that the Finnish Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Laura Ratya, studies whether Ülikooli Apteek, Estonian unit of Finnish-owned pharmacy group Yliopiston Apteekki, is abusing its market position in Estonia, writes Äripäev with reference to Kauppalehti.

According to the association, Ülikooli Apteek is taking advantage of its special status in competition in Estonia.

According to the association, YA which in Finland has a special status is expanding in Estonia by using the assistance that it receives from the Finnish state.

Read more from BBN

Estonia’s president about Russia’s threat

Raised in New Jersey, Estonia’s President Toomas Hendrik Ilves does not mince words when it comes to the situation in Ukraine and the threat Russia poses to his country and the region. He took time last week to speak with The Post’s Lally Weymouth. Excerpts:

Q. What do you think of the situation in Ukraine?

A. The issue is not just Ukraine — it is the entire post-World War II order, which is under question. The Helsinki Final Act forbade border changes through aggression and says explicitly that no such change in borders would be recognized.

[This] was already annulled by the [Russian] attack on Georgia in 2008. Prime Minister [Vladimir] Putin and President [Dmitry] Medvedev said they did it because Georgia wanted to join NATO. No one heard the alarm.

Now it is Ukraine, where even more egregiously, the casus belli is that Ukraine wanted to have an association agreement with the European Union. [Such an agreement] really doesn’t give you very much.

Read more from The Washington Post

Record number of foreign students

The number of foreign students working towards a degree in Estonian universities is increasing each year. Students come from over 50 different countries, but best represented are Finland, Russia, Latvia, Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey, Nigeria and India.

Tallinn University of Technology is hosting 431 new students from all over the world this year. That is a more than 30 percent increase compared to the previous year and amounts to about half of all new foreign students in Estonian universities.

Tallinn University has 223 new students from abroad and the University of Tartu has 200. Compared to 2013, these figures are up by 33 and 34 percent, respectively.

The number of applications received from foreign students at the University of Tartu has almost doubled compared to last year, growing from 188 in 2013 to 349 in 2014. Tallinn University boasts an even greater rise, 579 against the 334 received a year before.

According to Ülle Tensing, senior specialist for international studies at the University of Tartu, “One can notice several reasons behind this rise, two new degree courses in English and more intensive marketing being perhaps the most important.”

Krista Must, a communication specialist for Tallinn University, told ERR News that their university has, in co-operating with the Study in Estonia program, marketed their courses in five target countries: Finland, Russia, Turkey, Latvia and Lithuania. In 2012 the university also opened a branch of law school in Helsinki. The school currently hosts 167 students, most of whom are Finnish citizens.

University of Tartu reports that the largest number of their foreign students also come from Finland, followed by Russia, Ukraine and India. “These are countries where the University of Tartu has deliberately marketed itself for some time now. I am glad that the number of students coming to Tartu reflects the work we have done,” said Eveli Soo, senior specialist for international marketing.

The number of exchange students, from programs such as Erasmus, has also increased. “Tallinn University usually hosts around 200 exchange students per semester,” Must said.

Source: ERR News

The cost of Russian import ban

The Estonian Institute of Economic Research has put a number on last month’s Russian ban on the import of food products, fish, meat, and fruit and vegetables from EU nations.

The direct loss is only 75 million euros, the sum of the banned products exported to Russia annually, while that figure doubles as many raw ingredients are exported to neighboring countries, which would have been processed and sent to Russia.

Cheese manufacturers are suffering the most, with their losses calculated at 27 million euros. Raw fish and fish products make up 15 million euros annually in exports to the eastern neighbor, with milk and dairy products in a similar bracket.

Losses from indirect exports to Russia are hitting the dairy industry the hardest.

Marje Josing, the head of the institute, said the figures are food for thought for companies which have failed to diversify markets, adding that businesses have played safe in comfortable schemes of selling raw material, instead of adding value or trying to crack Scandinavian or German markets.

She said looking at the bigger picture, the food industry is growing in the world, and demand is increasing.

Source: ERR News

Estonian companies buying airtime in pro-Kremlin media

Some 150 Estonian enterprises and organizations, including Health Sickness Fund, are advertising their products in pro-Kremlin state media channels such as RTR Rossija which is also available in Estonia, writes Äripäev.

One of the largest advertisers was the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, a state organization. Such advertising is politically tricky because the ads are aired near Vesti, the station’s news programme that broadcasts Moscow’s official views.

Read more from BBN

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