Estonia paid 188 mEUR to IMF

Eesti Pank made an additional payment to the International Monetary Fund on Feb.10,2016 of 188 million euros, which will increase Estonia’s participation in the IMF. This is part of the final phase of reform of the IMF quotas, which aims to increase the voting rights of developing countries.

Estonia’s participation or quota increased by some 150 million SDRs, or 188 million euros, and will be 244 million SDRs after the payment, or about 306 million euros. This will give Estonia 0.07% of the voting rights in the IMF. The increase in Estonia’s quota was approved by the Riigikogu in June 2012.

SDRs, or Special Drawing Rights, are units of account created by the International Monetary Fund. Their value is based on a basket of four currencies, the US dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen, and the pound sterling*.

The Riigikogu appointed Eesti Pank as the representative of Estonia at the IMF, and Eesti Pank made the payment to the IMF in relation to the increase in the quota, paying 25%, or 47 million euros, in SDRs and 75%, or around 141 million euros, in the local currency, which is the euro. The quota payment does not affect the state budget, as the only changes are in the structure of Eesti Pank’s assets.

On 30 June 2012 member states whose quotas added up to 70% of the total approved the increase in quotas. The increase in quotas also needed changes to be made to the Articles of Agreement of the IMF, which required the approval of 60% of the member states, representing 85% of the total votes. The last to ratify the reform was the USA, which did so in January 2016, after which all the member states, including Estonia, had to make their payments within not more than 30 days. Estonia’s increased participation in the IMF will apply after today’s payment.

* From 1 October 2016 the Chinese yuan will be added to the currency basket.

Background Information

The total value of the IMF quotas will be almost doubled from 238 billion SDRs to 477 billion SDRs. The IMF’s proposal to raise the quotas was prompted above all by the need to double the its resources in the face of a global financial crisis, given the changed position of quickly developing member states, including Estonia, in the global economy. The IMF regularly reviews the quotas of its member states at least once every five years.

The quota determines the maximum participation of the member state in the IMF. The size of the quota is calculated for each country using a formula that considers that country’s GDP, openness to trade, economic volatility in terms of capital flows and the current account, and currency reserves. Quotas are also important in determining whether member states can borrow from the IMF, as access to the IMF’s credit lines is usually linked to the applicant’s quota.

In June 2012 the Riigikogu ratified the proposed changes to the IMF’s Articles, which aimed to make the management of the IMF more flexible and to increase the voting rights of developing countries. Following the decision of the Riigikogu, Estonia gave its approval to the increase in the Estonian quota and to the changes in the IMF Articles. See also

Source: Bank of Estonia

Estonian government grants citizenship to 85 people

The government decided on January 14,2016 to grant Estonian citizenship to 85 people and to release 54 people from Estonian citizenship.

The government endorsed the naturalization of 85 people none of whom is a national of any other country at this point, spokespeople for the government said.

The government released 54 people from Estonian citizenship. Of these people 45 reside in a foreign country and want to relinquish their Estonian citizenship in connection with acquiring the citizenship of the country where they live.

Fourteen of the people relinquishing their Estonian citizenship live in Russia, 20 in Finland, three in the UK, two in Australia, and one in Norway, the United States, Germany, Sweden, Austria and Ireland each.

Nine of the persons relinquishing their Estonian citizenship live in Estonia and eight of them have been granted citizenship of Russia and one of the UK.

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

Delays in opening the checkpoint on Estonian-Russian border

The Narva-2 checkpoint for pedestrians on the Estonian-Russian border in Narva, where reconstruction of facilities on the Estonian side was completed at the end of 2015, will open at the beginning of March at the earliest as a result of red tape in Russia, officials said on Monday.

Construction works have been virtually completed also on the Russian side, Lilia Zujeva, project manager at the Interior Ministry’s financial department, told BNS.

Zujeva said it’s formal procedures in Russia that take the extra time. First, the Russian Justice Ministry must give its endorsement, then the federal government has to issue an order and only after that can the checkpoint be opened, she said.

All this is estimated to take about two months. “We hope that the border checkpoint can be opened by the beginning of March,” the official added.

The checkpoint of the pedestrian crossing is situated in a two-story building next to the gates of what used to be the Kreenholmi Manufaktuur textile factory. Pedestrians cross the river separating the two countries by a 184.5-meter bridge built in 1980.

The Estonian state real estate management company RKAS and the construction company Ehitus5ECO OU signed an agreement in June 2015 on the reconstruction of the Narva-2 checkpoint and the pedestrian bridge for 777,000 euros. The works are financed using funds of the Estonia-Latvia-Russia cross-border program for 2007-2013 under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI).

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

It will be easier for foreigners to come to work and live in Estonia

Legislative amendments aimed at making it easier for foreign specialists to come to work and live in Estonia are about to take force on Jan. 1, 2016.

“The amendments to the Aliens Act taking effect from the new year are a follow-on to the amendments made two years ago whose aim was to favor highly skilled people taking up residence in Estonia,” Interior Minister Hanno Pevkur said in a press release. “The amendments ease formalities for foreigners coming to work or study in Estonia and afford them better conditions for self-realization,” the minister said.

From January next year, a foreigner who has come to work in Estonia can work for multiple employers simultaneously provided that the conditions set out in the residence permit issued for employment are observed. For taking up employment with another employer permission from the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, payment of remuneration in the amount set out by the law and informing will no longer be required.

The permission of the Unemployment Insurance Fund necessary for applying for a residence permit for employment will no longer be personal, meaning that the Unemployment Insurance Fund may authorize an employer to fill one or several jobs with foreigners if no workforce with corresponding skills and qualifications can be found in Estonia. Besides the possibility will be created for foreigners staying in Estonia for a short term and foreigners staying in Estonia under a fixed-term residence permit to work in Estonia as a temporary agency worker.

To provide foreigners with more flexible conditions for continuing to live in Estonia, a 90-day transition period from the date of expiry of the residence permit will be introduced. The length of the transition period for students who have graduated from an Estonian university and for foreign researchers and university teachers is 183 days. During the transition period the person can apply for a new residence permit on different grounds, such as for enterprise, employment or study, without having to leave Estonia.

The amendments would create a new category of residence permit — residence permit for taking up permanent residence in Estonia. The latter can be issued to foreigners well adapted in Estonia for up to five years at a time to create better conditions for their remaining in Estonia for employment, study or enterprise.

Altogether 23,787 foreigners have a fixed-term Estonian residence permit at this point. The biggest numbers of applications for such permits this year have been filed by citizens of Ukraine and Russia, followed by people of unspecified citizenship and U.S. citizens.

Under current rules, an employer who wishes to hire a foreigner not having an Estonian residence permit must obtain permission from the Unemployment Insurance Fund and pay the foreigner at least 1.24 times the Estonian national average wage.

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

Estonia’s immigration quota for next year to be set at 1,317

The Estonian government is to discuss on Thursday endorsing 1,317 persons, 0.1 percent of the country’s permanent population, as the immigration limit for 2016.

The immigration quota was set at 0.1 percent of the permanent population also for 2015, spokespeople for the government said.

The limit does not apply to citizens of the European Union, of a member state of the European Economic Area, and Switzerland, and does not include the war refugees to be accepted by Estonia from Greece and Italy under the EU refugee distribution scheme.

For 2012-2014, the government set the limit at 0.075 percent of the permanent population of Estonia, raising it to 0.1 percent of the population in 2015.

In 2013 the number of temporary residence permits to be issued was capped at 1,000 and altogether 602 such permits were issued during the year, meaning that 398 units of the quota were not used. The maximum number of permits that could be issued last year was 996 and 720 permits were issued during the year. The quota for this year is 1,322 and 1,137 permits had been issued by Dec. 1.

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

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