First reading of Estonian-Russian border treaty scheduled for end of month

The Foreign Affairs Committee decided to send the Bill on the Ratification of the Estonian-Russian State Border Treaties to the first reading at the November 25 plenary sitting, the Parliament’s press office announced.

The committee voted to send the bill to the Parliament with four members in favour and two against.

Former defence minister Sven Mikser, now an MP who chairs the committee, expressed his joy that most members supported the sending of the bill to the first reading at the plenary assembly. In his opinion, the fact that the state borders have been agreed bilaterally and that the parliament has ratified the treaties will serve the best interests of Estonia. The bill needs the support of two-thirds majority of the parliament. “I’m convinced that the parliament has that majority,” Mikser said.

Member of the Committee Henn Põlluaas (EKRE), on the other hand, said the border treaty and its ratification are unnecessary because they are detrimental to Estonia’s interests.

The border treaty between Estonia and Russia was signed in February 2014, but is yet to enter force as neither of the two parties has ratified it.

Estonia is also currently in the process of marking down and developing the border, which serves as the external border of the European Union. According to Minister of the Interior Hanno Pevkur, technical constructions should hopefully be completed by 2018, when the country celebrates its 100th anniversary.

According to Pevkur, 71 percent of the control line has been cleared and 59 percent milled. 3.2 million euros has been set aside for constructing the border from this year’s budget and another 20 million from the next year’s budget.

Source: ERR


Government creates a Global Estonia Network

The goal of developing a Global Estonia network is to boost exports and bring investment to Estonia, together with the wider exchange of information and communication of state messages. The network will be comprised of Estonian foreign representations, honorary consuls, business delegates, fellow-countryman living and working abroad, friends of Estonia and their organisations.

The basis for forming the Estonian network is mainly to develop and widen the connection of existing channels and improve their cooperation, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign representations, Enterprise Estonia, the Estonian Institute and others already have functioning networks. Creating and managing an integrated global Estonian network is ideally suited for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its foreign representations, where a significant fundamental structure in the form of existing lists is already present. A centrally organised network enables communication based on target group or target message, and not necessarily based on institution.

Possible areas that the network is planning to cover include: business diplomacy, export and investments; culture, science and education; media; Estonianism and politics.

Global Estonia network is a concept in development.


Estonia’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs is Marina Kaljurand

Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand took office on July 16, 2015 by by taking the oath of office before the Riigikogu.

“In assuming the duties of a member of the Government of the Republic, I am aware that I am responsible in that office to the Government of the Republic and to my conscience. I solemnly swear to remain faithful to the constitutional order of the Government of the Republic and to dedicate my energy to ensuring the well-being and future of the Estonian people,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand said, in reading out the oath of office of a member of the Government.

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves appointed Marina Kaljurand as Minister of Foreign Affairs yesterday on the basis of the proposal of Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas. According to law, the Minister can start the performance of her duties upon taking the oath of office before the Riigikogu.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Keit Pentus-Rosimannus submitted her resignation to Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas on Sunday, 1 July. Yesterday, the President of the Republic relieved Pentus-Rosimannus from the office of Minister of foreign affairs.

Before taking the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kaljurand was the Undersecretary on Political Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2014–2015. During the same period, she was also an Estonian Expert of the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Cybersecurity.

In 2011–2014, Kaljurand was the Ambassador of Estonia to the U.S.A. and Mexico and in 2011–2013 also to Canada. In 2008–2011, Kaljurand was the Undersecretary on Economic and Development Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2007–2011, Kaljurand was the Estonian Ambassador to   Kazakhstan, in 2005–2008 to the Russian Federation and in 2004–2006 to Israel. In 2002–2005, Kaljurand was the Undersecretary on Legal and Consular Affairs and Legal Counsellor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Marina Kaljurand has also held the post of Director General of the Legal Department, Director of the International Agreements Department and Third Secretary of the Press and Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Counsellor at the Estonian Embassy in Helsinki and Lecturer of Law of the School of Economics of the Tallinn University of Technology.

Marina Kaljurand holds a master’s degree in law from the University of Tartu (cum laude), and she has also graduated from the Estonian School of Diplomacy and acquired a master’s degree in international law and diplomacy from Tufts University in the USA.


Austria to close embassies in Baltic states

The Austrian Foreign Ministry is planning to close the embassies in the Baltic states and Malta by 2018 in order to save 39 million euros, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said in a statement carried by APA news agency.

The Austrian told journalists that the above embassies would be closed but that other diplomatic missions would be opened in other, strategically more important countries. Austria’s ambassadors to Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Malta will be residing in Vienna or the capitals of other nearby countries, for instance, in Stockholm.

The minister explained that Austria is already well represented in the Baltic states in terms of consular services and business cooperation. Kurz denied that the closure of the Austrian embassies has anything to do with current developments like the Ukraine crisis or migration issues in the EU.

Under the reform plan, announced by the Austrian foreign minister, Austria will open embassies in Belarus, Moldova or Georgia.

“I believe that Russian threats to Georgia are much more important. We are therefore focusing on countries that have especially tense relations with Russia,” Kurz said, noting that the Baltic states are already members of the EU and NATO.

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

PM: 100 refugees a year is not mass immigration

Around 100 refugees a year Estonia is capable of taking in are certainly not a reason to speak about mass immigration and sowing xenophobia is to be condemned, Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said on Tuesday.

“The Estonian government takes the view that we too have to be open and help solve the problem, but this within our capabilities and on the basis of an agreement between countries,” Rõivas underlined.

In his words, the decision taken at the European Council late on Friday to distribute 60,000 refugees among European countries on a voluntary basis is in agreement with the mandate given to the government. “Now it has to be agreed how much each country is prepared to voluntarily contribute. Estonia too has reason to make a contribution in accordance with its size,” the head of the government said.

He declined to name specific figures but said Estonia is able to accept about 100 refugees a year within a two-year period.

At the same time steps have to be taken for the country to have a sufficient capability for admitting refugees, Rõivas said: “So that all the people would know what they have to do, how the refugees arriving in Estonia will be taught the language, how we’ll ensure employment, and so on.”

He said the government wants to get answers to all specific questions within a month and agreed on Tuesday to form a respective work group.

In Rõivas’ words, it is irresponsible to speak about mass immigration. He pointed out that currently approximately 4,000 people apply for a residence permit annually and the number of refugees Estonia might accept is a very small percentage of that number.

“The situation here won’t come to even one refugee per each and every self-government unit, not even in a perspective of two years. When municipalities say they do not want to accept refugees, such rejecting statements that cause anger in society are groundless,” he said.

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

Asylum seekers come from Ukraine mainly

While more than a fourth of first time asylum seekers registered in member states of the European Union in the first quarter of this year originated from Kosovo, it is mostly Ukrainians who seek asylum in Estonia, figures released by Eurostat show.

EU countries received a total of 184,815 first time applications in the first three months of this year. Some 48,600 applicants or 26 percent were from Kosovo, 29,100 or 16 percent from Syria and 12,900 or 7 percent from Afghanistan.

Of the 50 asylum applications submitted in Estonia during the same period, 30 were received from Ukrainian citizens, which makes 60 percent of the total. Sudanese and Nepalese applicants numbered five each, accounting equally for 10 percent of the overall number.

Source: Baltic News Service

Estonian integration activities in 2014

Minister of Culture Indrek Saar introduced the 2014 summary of the “Integrating Estonia 2020” development plan to the Government of the Republic. The Government acknowledged the summary. The summary highlights the status of fulfilling strategic and area-specific objectives as well as the used funds in 2014.

Development plan “Integrating Estonia 2020” serves as a basis for the implementation and funding of the integration policy for the period of 2014-2020. The general objective of the development plan is to have the Estonian society integrated and socially cohesive, to have people with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds actively participating in the society and sharing democratic values.

“The most significant initiatives of the last year were the decision to create a Russian language television channel as well as developing the conditions of the support measures of the European Social Fund for supporting permanent residents less integrated into the Estonian society and new arrivals. A recommended model has also been developed for transitioning to Estonian as a language of instruction in basic schools,” explained the Undersecretary for Cultural Diversity to the Ministry of Culture Anne-Ly Reimaa. “The language immersion programme, preparing the Russian module for the “Jurist aitab” interactive portal and many other activities also continued,” Reimaa added.

In 2014, all target levels in citizenship, general education and employment were fulfilled. For example, the number of persons with undetermined citizenship decreased and 1,611 people were granted Estonian citizenship under naturalisation. The average final examination results in Estonian among students with a native language different from Estonian also improved and the share of 18–24 year old people with a native language different from Estonian and with a low level of education decreased. The employment rate decreased among Estonians as well as among other nationalities and the employment gap between Estonians and employees of other nationals decreased as well.

The average results of final examinations of basic school in Estonian as a second language has a slight decrease from 68 points to 67.1 points. The employment rate of residents of other nationalities also declined from 60.3% to 59.2%.

A detailed implementation plan for 2014-2017 complements the “Integrating Estonia 2020” development plan. The size of the 2014 budget of the implementation plan was 3,440,000 euros. In addition to the Ministry of Culture, in 2014, the measures and activities of the development plan were also funded by the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Education and Research, Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Justice.

Source: Ministry of Social Affairs


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