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 The understanding that used to hold true is no longer valid.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.

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Estonian president starts consultations with parliament parties

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on Monday started consultations with parliament parties about forming a new government.

The president met first with representatives of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) and is to meet with a delegation of the junior partner in the present ruling coalition, Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL), later in the day.

The meeting with representatives of the other opposition force, the Centre Party, is set for Tuesday and politicians from the prime minister’s Reform Party are to meet with the president on Wednesday. The Centre Party said it will convene a board meeting before the talks with Ilves.

“I really hope that when representatives of the parliamentary parties arrive, they have their own propositions, their vision on how to proceed, with whom to cooperate,” Ilves said last week after Prime Minister Andrus Ansip tendered his resignation.

The president has 14 days starting from last Tuesday to nominate a prime minister candidate.

The Reform Party and SDE started talks about forming a government coalition at the end of last week.

Source: BNS / Estonian Review

IRL may go into opposition

IRL chairman Urmas Reinsalu says in an interview to Eesti Päevaleht that he does not rule out the possibility that IRL may have to go into opposition for some time.

Reinsalu said that while theoretically Reform Party could replace IRL as its coalition partner with Social Democrats, it would not be a good option for the country.

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Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip will resign

On the 23rd of February, Estonian Prime Minister, Andrus Ansip (Reform Party), announced that he will submit a resignation to the President on the 4th of March.

Two years ago Ansip said that he was not going to run for the PM again in the next elections in spring 2015. He has been on that position already since 2005.

On the 21st of February, the Board of the Reform Party decided to nominate Siim Kallas (currently working as a Commissioner at the European Commission) as a PM candidate, if Ansip would resign. In principle, it is intended castling between Kallas and Ansip – Ansip would replace Kallas in the European Commission. Kallas has said that the replacement has been discussed with Barroso, as well. Kallas has repeatedly notified that he would like to come back and continue his career in Estonia. He would be the first Commissioner, who would continue on the PM position immediately after resignation.

Kallas has introduced some of his main principles to the public already:

1. To focus economic policy towards raising incomes of Estonian population and reduce the difference between the Nordic partners.

2. Estonia should get by without loans and debts.

3. Main principles of the security policy will not change; Estonia will continue to pay 2% in national defence.

4. He supports the current principles of the reform of municipalities, ie. no forced mergers.

The first principle sounds quite populist as wage growth is already very high in Estonia. Another issue is how to raise competitiveness and based on that increase incomes. The reform of the municipalities has delayed for a too long time and its success is far from satisfactory.

Kallas intends to compose a government that meets the best to the expectations of the Estonian society. At the same time, both Reform Party and the current coalition are less popular than opposition parties, according the recent poll. This is one of the reasons, why Ansip has decided to give way to somebody else. Renewal of the government was long-awaited as the current one has been blamed in fatigue in implementing reforms in Estonia. At the same time, several accusations haven’t been enough explicit. Kallas has said that his main objective is to steer Reform Party to victory during the next parliamentary elections in 2015.

However, only President can nominate the candidate of PM in Estonia, while parliament (Riigikogu) provides the mandate to the PM to form the government. Estonia will get the new government by the first part of April (11 April), at the latest. It is expected that Reform Party will continue together with the same coalition with Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica (having together 56 out of 101 seats in Riigikogu), but some ministers will be replaced. At the same time, it cannot be excluded that Social Democratic Party will be invited to the coalition as well in order to get additional support votes. Inviting social democrats to the coalition could mean the violation of coalition agreement.

In summary, we do not expect the change of the main principles of the economic policy between the next elections in 2015.

Source: Swedbank

Visualising how the former Soviet countries are doing

They were three days that shook the world – and shook the Soviet Union so hard that it fell apart.

But for better or worse? Twenty years on from the Soviet coup that ultimately ended Mikhail Gorbachev‘s political career and gave birth to 15 new states, The Guardian was keen to explore just how well those 15 former Soviet republics had performed as independent countries. Our data team mined statistics from sources ranging from the World Bank, the UNHCR, the UN Crime Trends Survey and the Happy Planet Index to compare the performance of the countries. And we combed through the OSCE’s reports on every election in each country since 1991 to see where democracy was taking hold – and where it was not wanted.

It was in many senses a traumatic break-up. Like a marriage, there was so much that was jointly owned that it was hard to make a clean break. Industries, military units, whole populations, were scattered across an empire, indivisible. Moreover, the economic crisis that led the USSR to the brink tilted most of the emergent countries into the abyss. GDP fell as much as 50 percent in the 1990s in some republics, Russia leading the race to the bottom as capital flight, industrial collapse, hyperinflation and tax avoidance took their toll. Almost as startling as the collapse was the economic rebound in the 2000s. By the end of the decade, some economies were five times as big as they were in 1991. High energy prices helped major exporters like Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, but even perennial stragglers like Moldova and Armenia began to grow…

The Baltic republics

Since 1990, their economies have grown around fourfold, though not without the occasional financial convulsion. Population levels tell a different story though: all three countries have lost at least 10 percent of their populations, and only Estonia has seen a sharp increase in life expectancy. Democratic records are exemplary, but the countries sit surprisingly low on international measures for wellbeing and happiness.

Read more from The Guardian

Andrus Ansip endorses Siim Kallas as possible PM

The likelihood that European Commission vice president and Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas is preparing a comeback into Estonian politics is growing, writes Eesti Päevaleht.

It’s been ten years in 2014 since Andrus Ansip took over chairmanship of the Reform Party from Kallas. Yesterday Ansip said that Kallas would make a good PM and that the international grasp of Kallas would also be useful when Estonia becomes EU president in 2018.

Kallas also said last week he will not run for the European Parliament, as he does not want to compete against his daughter, Kaja Kallas, and would like to return home.

Read more from BBN


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