Prominent lawyer suspected of bribery

Estonian security police this week detained prominent Estonian lawyer Viktor Kaasik for bribing Toomas Õispuu, head of the Tallinn municipal city planning department, writes Postimees.  Kaasik who represented Alfa Property that plans a residential development on the Tallinn Hippodrome territory is suspected to have given 10,000 euros in bribe to Õispuu for speeding up the processing of the detailed plan in the city government.

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Banks’ credit portfolio picked up in May

Corporate and household borrowing has witnessed stable growth in 2011. The turnover of loans and leases granted to companies posted the highest growth rate in May at 630 million euros, increasing by over a third from previous months as well as from a year ago. The previous months saw growth in the level of short-term loans only, while in May also the volume of long-term loans issued to the real estate and construction sectors contributed to growth. The coming months will reveal whether this was a one-off development or a general change in borrowing activity.

Compared to companies, households express lower confidence and willingness to borrow. As in the previous months, the turnover of car leases continued to grow and reached 84% in May in annual terms. The turnover of housing loans, on the other hand, increased at a modest rate of 10% in May.

The loan and lease portfolio of banks increased for the first time over the past year and a half owing to increased borrowing, and totalled 14.8 billion euros at the end of May. Both the corporate and housing loan segments recorded growth, while the portfolio of consumer credit shrank further. The loan and lease portfolio contracted in the previous months as well, and so in May it was 6% smaller than it was a year earlier.

Interest rates are still being shaped by diverging determinants: the rise in the Euribor on the one hand and the drop in interest margins on the other. The average interest rate on housing loans remained unchanged from previous months at 3.4% in May. However, the average interest rate on corporate loans declined to 4.0%, partly because of the increased share of long-term loans with lower interest rates, compared to previous months.

The quality of loans has not changed much. The percentage of loans overdue for more than 60 days in the loan portfolio continued to shrink, standing at 6.3% at the end of May. The percentage of loans overdue has decreased, both in the segments of corporate and household loans.

Along with the pick-up in borrowing, the annual growth in the volume of deposits is slowing, standing at 4% in May. The slowdown in growth mainly concerns corporate deposits, which contracted by 3% year-on-year. The volume of household deposits keeps growing at rates close to those in the previous months, with annual growth totalling 10% in May.


Figure 1. Corporate loans and leases issued in a month

Figure 2. The weighted average interest rate on housing loans and long-term corporate loans issued in a month and 6-month Euribor

Figure 3. The volume and annual growth of corporate and household deposits


The financial sector statistics and publication calendar are available on the web site of Eesti Pank at

Source: Bank of Estonia

Author: Jaak Tõrs, Head of the Financial Stability Department

Swedbank Estonia to sell subsidiaries to parent company

Swedbank, the largest bank in Estonia, announced yesterday that it had decided to change its legal structure in reference to the bank’s three Baltic subsidiaries.

Among others, the company  has decided to make Latvian and Lithuanian subsidiaries directly owned by Swedbank AB, like in the case of Swedbank Estonia.  In connection with the changes, Swedbank in Estonia will pay 243 million euros in dividends that it earned from the operations in Latvia and Lithuania

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Co-generation plants drive up price of heat

Estonian power plants that burn biofuel are consuming about 1.2 million cubic metres of wood or about 15% of annual felling and since demand exceeds supply, the price of firewood has gone up by about 20% last year.

The situation will worsen further when the new power plant of Eesti Energia is started in 2015 since it will be burning half firewood and half oil shale.

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Ministry to restrict immigration of foreign business executives

The ministry of interior has announced it plans to set the quota for immigrating foreign business executives at 580 people for this year, writes Postimees.

This year about 500 people have already obtained Estonian residence permit as business managers of foreign companies.

Since in January the government set that the immigration quota for this year will be 1,008 people, it means that if the trend continues with the current pace, it would be the only way for foreigners to apply for a residence permit

Source: BBN

Estonia attracts 427 MEUR in direct investments in Q1

In the first quarter of 2011 direct investments in the amount of 427 million euros flowed into Estonia while Estonian residents’ direct investments abroad totaled 195 million euros. The inflow of direct investment exceeded the outflow by 232 million euros, the Bank of Estonia said.

Three quarters of the increase in direct investment was related to reinvested earnings reflected in the current account as outflow of income. Equity investment accounted for 6% of the inflow of direct investment.

The structure of residents’ direct investment abroad was somewhat different from that of nonresidents’ direct investment in Estonia: direct equity investment made up 30% and reinvested earnings and the movement of loan capital within cross-border groups 35% each of total direct investment abroad during the quarter.

Source: Estonian Review

Estonia among most forested countries in EU

In 2010 54% of the territory of Estonia was covered by forest and other wooded land, with which the country ranked high among the member states of the European Union that have the greatest proportion of forest cover, figures published by Eurostat on Wednesday show.

The EU member state with the highest percentage of territory covered by forest in 2010 was Finland, with a ratio of 77%. Sweden came next with 76%, followed by Slovenia with 63%, Latvia with 56%, and Spain with 55%. In all other EU member states, the ratio was lower than 50%. At the bottom of the table came Malta with 0.5%.

Forests cover 11% of the territory of the Netherlands, 12% of the territory of the UK and Ireland and 14% of the territory of Denmark.

In 2010, forest and other wooded land covered 178 million hectares in the EU27, or around 40% of its land area.

Source: Estonian Review

Education minister to make universities accountable

Estonian minister of education Jaak Aaviksoo is dissatisfied with the number of dropouts in universities and wants universities to become accountable for the number of graduates, writes Postimees. Aaviksoo who is former rector of Tartu University has now proposed that the state signs performance-based contracts with universities that would be funded according to actual graduation.

Aaviksoo says that since 2007 universities have received state funding, but failed to ensure graduation at the amount of 96 million euros or one full-year graduation. 

In 2010 the state paid the universities 133 million euros, but graduation was 21 million euros lower.

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11th Youth Song and Dance Celebration 1–3 July 2011 at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds

The performances of the 11th song and dance celebration will take place as follows:




The procession of the 11th youth song and dance celebration will start on 3 July at 9 a.m. in Vabaduse väljak in Tallinn.

The 11th youth song and dance celebration will start at song festival grounds in Tallinn on 3 July as soon as the procession ends. The estimated start of the performance is 1 p.m.

Program of the 11th Youth Song Celebration

Program of the 11th Youth Dance Celebration

The traditional components of the song and dance celebration – the opening and final ceremony, dance performances and the song celebration – take place in open air, in the territory of Tallinn Song Festival Grounds.

The public can follow the parade of the song and dance celebration from the beginning to the end (no ticket required). All song and dance celebration participants will walk from the centre of Tallinn to the Song Festival Grounds together in a joint parade. The parade is as important a tradition as the fire of the song and dance celebration which is lit in the lighthouse of the song festival grounds in the beginning of the celebration.

XI Youth Song Celebration (3 July 2011) is almost a 6-hour long concert with different choirs and orchestras performing. The songs and music take the most powerful form when joint choirs start performing.

XI Youth Dance Celebration (1 and 2 July 2011) is almost a 2-hour dance performance with thousands of dancers’ and gymnasts’ groups on the dance ground. Together they form beautiful dance patterns and all in all perform more than 20 different dances and gymnastics’ programmes.

The first dance performance starts with the joint opening ceremony of the XI Youth Song and Dance Festival. The joint choirs will stand on the song stage and the dancers will perform on the area in front of the stage. The lighting of the song and dance celebration fire forms an important part of the opening ceremony.

It is best to follow the dance performance from above as then the beautiful dance patterns will be better to follow. At the same time – sitting close to the performance, the viewers can see the beautiful national costumes that the dancers are wearing, and also the details of the dances.

The story

Song and Dance Celebration, the Estonian says. This is almost a sacred notion. It stands for the true birthday of Song and Dance, a great spiritual feast, a tradition not to be missed.

This is the festive reunion of an ancient folk, gathering from the cities as well as from the countryside;
small as a nation, but impressively large as a family.

Song and Dance Celebration is a true Estonian holiday, the Holy Day of the Heart;
which has been waited for, adorned for;
this is a brief moment of ecstatic togetherness, rising almost into the air in a mythical ship of joy and hope
a ship that has proved to be capable of carrying one nation over the most dangerous, most difficult rocks of time.

/Doris Kareva/

Estonia and Song and Dance Celebration – these two belong together like Norway and skiing or England and the Oxford-Cambridge boat race.

The Song Celebration tradition started in the middle of the 19th century and it has survived all of the twists and turns in Estonia’ s history.

It has defied the hardest of times like a frail plant that pushes its way through concrete with its inner strength and then bursts into bloom. Preceded by some local Song Celebrations, the first nationwide Song Celebration was held in Tartu in 1869.

At the time this was seen as the first attempt at national self-determination, manifested before the Baltic-German rulers: See, we can do something too! Fifty choirs and musical ensembles from all over Estonia performed before an audience of thousands, who experienced a blissful sense of belonging, enhanced by the beauty of the music and the songs.

This celebration evolved into a tradition that still flourishes today. The small nation which started the tradition has had to prove to foreign authorities, even in the 20th century, that they are a fully fledged nation with its own rights and resolves.

Song and Dance Celebrations were not just big festivals of singing and music but a way to demonstrate the national spirit and to strengthen the sense of belonging.

The age of foreign rulers is past but Song and Dance Celebrations are still alive – both local and nationwide.

And this proves how deep and strong is the core, spirit and meaning of Song and Dance Celebrations. It is definitely not only the spirit of protest and resistance that brings hundreds of thousands of Estonians – and an increasing number of guests from around the world – every five years to Tallinn. The total number of performers in the last Song and Dance Celebration in 2009 was 34 000 and they performed before an audience of 200 000.

Rather, it is the unique combination of the sublimity of music and human warmth that a rather distrustful northern nation dares to show during Song Celebrations, much to the surprise of others and its self..

Song and Dance Celebration – this is a joy. Because Song Festivals are irreplacable and unique, they can only be experienced on site.

The next nationwide Song and Dance Celebration is in 2014.

The history

The 1860s marked the beginning of a period of National Awakening. The Song Celebration tradition began with the first Song Celebration organized by Johann Voldemar Jannsen and the “Vanemuine” society in Tartu from 18-20 June 1869. 51 male choirs and brass bands encompassing 845 singers and musicians gathered in Tartu.

The first Song Celebration was high point fot the Estonian national movement. The Song Celebration was also great musical event, which created the Song Celebration tradition. The Song Celebration have taken place regardless of the political situation. The term “singing nation” expresses well the Estonian identity that has united the nation in its struggle for national independence before 1918 and during the period of the Soviet Occupation (1941-1991).

Six Song Celebratins were held from 1879-1910, which played and important role in the nation’s cultural and economic awakening and growth. The tradition of holding Song Celebrations every five years began during the first Estonian independence (1923-1938). Following the end of World War II, the Song Celebration tradition began again in 1947. Since 1950, the Song Celebratios have been held every five years.

The “Singing Revolution” began in 1988, based on the Song Celebration tradition, when hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the Song Festival Grounds to make political demands and sing patriotical songs.

The first Estonian Games, Dance and Gymnastics festival, held in 1934, was precursor of the present Dance Celebration. 1500 folk dancers performed there.

The greatest Dance Celebration of all times (the 9th) took place in 1970 with over 10000 performers. By then a structure based age groups had developed with performers including toddler and seniors, the dancing veterans. The youngest dancer at this festival was 4 years old and the oldest 76! All the following festivals have had the optimal 8000 performers.
The Dance Celebration is a complete performance with a certain theme. The dancers in their bright national costumes from several colourful patterns on the dance field. The Dance Celebration is usually held on the same weekend as the Song Celebration. These two celebrations commence with a united festive parade through the city from the centre of Tallinn to the Song Festival Grounds.

In the beginning of the 1960s, the number of youth choirs, orchestras, folk-dance groups and participants had increased to such a level that there arose a need for a separate celebration. So, it was decided that a Youth Song and Dance Celebration should be organized. The first was held in 1962 and the next celebration will be held in 2011.

In November 2003, UNESCO declared Estonias’s Song and Dance Celebration tradition a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

In July 2004 about 100 000 people participated in the XXIV Song Celebration and the XVII Dance Celebration, either as performers pr spectators. For the first time in the history of the festival, the dance performace and the official parade were cancelled due to strong rain, however, 7000 people organized a spontaneous parade.


Savisaar buys an island near the Russian border

Fixor Holding, a company owned by Tallinn mayor and head of Center Party Edgar Savisaar and managed by his son Erki Savisaar, has paid about a million kroons for half of Salusaar, an island in Lämmijärvi lake near the Russian border, writes Postimees. Savisaar now owns all of the island since Fixor acquired the first half of it in April 2007.

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