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Vol 3, No 10
12 March 2001
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Estonia news News from

All the important news
since 3 March

Kristin Marmei


Companies launch Estonian Internet project

Several large firms in Estonia have joined forces in an ambitious plan calling for an investment of at least EEK (Estonian kroon) 250 million (USD 19.3 million) over three years to make the Internet accessible to Estonia's residents.

The nationwide project, entitled "Vaata maailma" (Look@world), is the largest cooperative project so far between the private sector and the state, IT specialist Linnar Viik, adviser to Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar, said on Wednesday.

The goals of the project are to offer more possibilities for access to the Internet, make public sector services better available online and help the private sector to offer its services as broadly as possible. The broader goal would be to bring, in addition to the 350,000 or so Estonian residents already familiar with the Internet, the remaining 650,000 people of the respective age groups to the growing family of Internet users.


Estonia to buy air surveillance radar from Lockheed-Martin

The Estonian government decided last Friday to buy a nearly EEK 200 million (USD 12 million) radar from a leading weaponry systems producer, US firm Lockheed-Martin, for the Baltic countries' joint air-space surveillance project.

Besides Lockheed-Martin, the French firm Thales, Italy's Alenia Marconi and Great Britain's British Aerospace all made bids in the tender, which lasted more than a year. Finnish and Danish air force acquisitions specialists acted as consultants during the talks, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry said.

"All the bidders had modern, up-to-date radars, but at the same time, all the radars had their problematic aspects, and the risks proceeding from them had to be separately analyzed in making the final choice," Defense Ministry Deputy Chancellor Margus Kolga said in a comment on the radar tender results. "All negotiations have to be concluded by a decision and so we finally had to pick the best choice," Kolga added.

The Defense Ministry made its first decision concerning the radar tender results at the end of last year but was forced to cancel it following a decision by a court of arbitration of the state procurement board. Under the first decision, the Defense Ministry would have bought radars from the French firm Thomson.


Opposition Center Party elects presidential candidate

The extended board of the oppositional Estonian Center Party elected Peeter Kreitzberg as its presidential candidate in the second round of voting in the southeastern town of Võru on Saturday.

The vote at the meeting was taken after the party's Chairman Edgar Savisaar, in an unexpected move, announced he was resigning from the presidential race. Before the first round, party leader Edgar Savisaar and another potential candidate, Ene Grauberg, announced their withdrawal from the race. They both suggested that their supporters give their votes to Kreitzberg.

In the second round ballot, Kreitzberg received 68 votes in the 110-seat Center Party council, compared with 38 votes given for Deputy Speaker of the Parliament.


President Lennart Meri visits China

Chairman of the National People's Assembly of China Li Peng and Estonian President Lennart Meri confirmed friendly relations between the two countries, during their meeting in Beijing last Friday.

Li Peng underlined that relations with Estonia are very important for China. Estonia is becoming an attractive foreign trade and transit partner for China during a time in China when much more is being produced than can be consumed, Li Peng said.

President Meri said that China could also cooperate with Estonia in the extraction and better use of oil shale. Meri expressed hope that Beijing's aspiration to become an Olympic city in 2008 will come true.

On Friday afternoon, President Meri met with President of China Jiang Zemin, who gave a dinner in honor of President and Mrs Helle Meri in the presidential palace in Beijing.

On Monday and Tuesday, President Meri visited the special economic zone of Hainan, saying there were good opportunities for closer contacts between the province and the Nordic countries. On Wednesday and Thursday, the Estonian President visited the Macau special Administrative Area and met with local leaders. Meri will continue his working visit in Hong Kong.


Parliament reelected incumbent chairman

On Thursday, the Riigikogu returned incumbent Chairman Toomas Savi of the ruling coalition's Reform Party to office. Savi, 58, was reelected in a 51 to nine vote in the 101-seat chamber, with 38 ballots declared invalid.

Savi has been the chairman of the Parliament since 1995 and was returned to the office for a seventh consecutive term.

Tunne Kelam, of the ruling coalition's Pro Patria Union, and Peeter Kreitzberg, of the opposition Center Party, were elected as deputy speakers of the Parliament. Kelam, 64, was reelected with 44 votes and Kreitzberg, 53, collected 36 votes. Kelam has held the post since 1992. Kreitzberg was the opposition's new candidate for the post of deputy speaker, replacing Siiri Oviir, also of the Center Party.


Tallinn Mayor Jüri Mõis survives third confidence vote

An opposition-sponsored no-confidence vote against Tallinn Mayor Jüri Mõis of the Pro Patria Union failed on Thursday. It was the third confidence vote against Mõis since last fall.

26 out of 31 municipal deputies present in the City Council hall voted in favor of the motion. No one voted against, and one deputy abstained. At least 33 votes were needed in the 64-seat chamber for the motion to be carried.


And in other news...

  • Estonia is among the countries with the largest percentage of students, ahead of such countries as Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In the 2000-2001 academic year, there are 56,347 young people studying in various types of higher educational institutions in Estonia. This is 14 percent more than last year.
  • Estonia's gross domestic product in 2000 grew 6.4 percent year-on-year, a compilation of quarterly figures shows. In 1999, Estonia's GDP declined 1.1 percent from the preceding year.

Kristin Marmei, 12 March 2001

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