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.

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Study of politician’s bank account shows close ties to businesses

A study of a bank account owned by convicted former Environment Minister Villu Reiljan and his wife Anne Reiljan shows how important business is in politics in Estonia, writes Äripäev in its investigative journalism report.

Proof of this is Villu Reiljan’s 50th birthday that he celebrated in May 2003. The total amount of money paid to his special-purpose birthday bank account by well-wishers was 220,000 kroons or over 14,000 euros. Cash donations may have amounted to as similar amount.

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President: We are in a Post- WWII environment

Due to steps taken by Russia in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the world is back in the immediate post-Second World War years, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said in an interview ahead of Estonian Victory Day.

Speaking on Vikerraadio, President Ilves said there were plenty of people who still look at Russia through rose-colored glasses and hope it is a bad dream that will pass.

“We are in around 1946. The understanding that used to hold true is no longer valid. We can no longer believe in these rules when one party has violated them all. The question now is what next? I say that if there is no significant withdrawal, if the situation persists, we will see a reaction from the West,” Ilves said.

According to him, a slow reaction is characteristic of democracies, as only authoritarian states can act without consulting the people.

The president said that the Ukrainian crisis has resulted in an increase in the willingness of Estonians to defend their country, alluding to a rise of volunteers for the Defense League.

Source: ERR News

Ansip replaces Kaja Kallas as Europarliament’s No. 1 candidate

The general convention of the Reform Party decided over the weekend that the party’s Europarliament candidate list will be topped by former Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, writes Eesti Päevaleht.

In the initial list of candidates that was submitted to the convention on February 26 the list was topped by MP Kaja Kallas, daughter of European Commissioner Siim Kallas.

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Andrus Ansip’s last day as Europe’s longest-serving PM

March 26, 2014 was the final day of Andrus Ansip (57) as Prime Minister of Estonia. He was PM just short of nine years, specifically 8 years, 11 months and two weeks, wrote Postimees.

In an interview to Postimees, Ansip said that he was very grateful to the Estonian people for their confidence in him.

“Last week Turu-uuringute AS published its survey of public confidence in institutions. It showed that the government is trusted by 46% of the population. This is very high, especially compared to the rest of Europe where governments are usually supported by around 25% of the population,” he added.

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Eiki Nestor was elected the President of the Riigikogu

At the elections of the Board of the Riigikogu, Eiki Nestor was elected the President today. 54 members of the Riigikogu voted in his favour.

45 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of Ene Ergma.

100 members of the Riigikogu took part in the elections. 1 ballot paper was invalid.

Eiki Nestor had been nominated by the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party Faction Sven Mikser. Ene Ergma had been nominated by the Chairman of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction Kaia Iva.

Eiki Nestor thanked the members of the Riigikogu for their support.

“I wish that the Riigikogu would be close to the people. If closeness on a first name basis seems inappropriate to some, a more polite form of address could be used, but I certainly don’t want the Riigikogu to be called ‘them’,” Nestor said.

The Riigikogu will now move on to electing its Vice-Presidents.

Source: The Riigikogu Press Service via Estonian Review

Reform Party, SocDems promise to reduce labour taxes

The coalition of Reform Party and Social Democrats are promising more funding for various purposes, but do not yet want to say where the additional money will come for, in other words, from which sectors it will be taken away from, writes Postimees.

One area where the new coalition seeks to agree is to reduce labour taxes.

Read more from BBN

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