Mõis resigns, Savisaar and Palts tie for replacement
The Tallinn City Council accepted Mayor Jüri Mõis' resignation on 31 May in an overwhelming majority, with approval by 40 of the 64 council members. The decision required 33 votes to pass.
The departing mayor told reporters that he decided to leave of his own accord, because most political forces in the capital's city power bloc came out in support of a new candidate for mayor, businessman Tõnis Palts. About 90 minutes before the vote, opposition leader Edgar Savisaar, who also backed Palts' candidacy, was moved as a second mayoral candidate. A vote in the city council ended in a 31-31 draw on the evening of 31 May.
The council may take a new vote on 5 June, as the Pro Patria Union Party is going to propose that the city council convene a new extraordinary session on that day. If the proposal is declined, a new vote will take place at the next scheduled city council session, 14 June.
Savisaar said he intends to run in the second round. "I intend to run in the second round as well. The result of the ballot in the first round showed that I have realistic possibilities to become mayor."
Mõis will return to the council as a member of the Pro Patria Union faction.
US senators visit Tallinn
A delegation of US senators made a short visit to Tallinn on 27 May, meeting with President Lennart Meri, Prime Minister Mart Laar and Defense Minister Jüri Luik. The delegation was headed by Gordon Smith (R-Oregon), chairman of the European subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee, and also included Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and George V Voinovich (R-Ohio).
Meri emphasized in the meeting that Estonia has very good cooperation with its Baltic neighbors, especially in defense policies. "Estonia wishes to join NATO because we believe in and share the common values of the NATO allies, as has been proved by Estonian troops' active participation in the peace mission in the Balkans," the President added.
In the meeting, the senators reaffirmed their support for Estonia's accession to NATO.
Government starts talks with miners
On 29 May, the Estonian miners' trade unions canceled protest plans and entered into talks with the government of the northeastern Ida-Viru county, as well as the central government.
At a rally in the town of Jõhvi on 21 April, miners demanded a stop to layoffs, higher unemployment pay and an extension of pension payments to employees of the national mining company, Eesti Põlevkivi (Estonian Oil Shale). Miners blamed the state for all the social problems arising from the restructuring of Eesti Põlevkivi.
Eesti Põlevkivi will, by the end of the year, dismiss 707 miners, of whom only 350 will be eligible for a company pension. Of Ida-Virumaa's working age population of 113,000, only 60.2 percent are employed at present. Miners, citing the government's ignorance, threatened to raise problems and start strikes, blocking roads and railways.
Social Affairs Minister Eiki Nestor initiated talks between the government and trade unions to avert a social catastrophe in northeastern Estonia and promised, on behalf of the government, to support the creation of new jobs and the retraining of surplus miners. The next round of talks will take place in a month, by which time participants will try to prepare a survey of new job possibilities.
ETV will host Eurovision song contest
Eurovision will take place in Estonia next year after a TV station stepped forward to solve funding difficulties.
Estonia's national television company, ETV (Estonian Television), told the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) on 29 May that it would stage next year's song contest.
"We've received adequate assurances from both the government and other circles that ETV will be ensured the necessary financial support to stage the Eurovision song contest of 2002 at the same high level as always," the TV company said in the letter to the EBU.
ETV representatives have met with organizers of the song contest in Denmark and Sweden to collect background information about staging the show.
Stolen phone components supplied underground factory
For at least a year, Estonian criminals have supplied millions of Estonian kroons worth of parts stolen from the Elcoteq cellular assembly plant in Tallinn to an illegal plant abroad.
According to the daily Postimees, people connected with Elcoteq supplied the plant, in an undisclosed European country, with screens, cases and microchips of Ericsson and Nokia telephones valued at more than EEK 50 million (USD 2.8 million).
Police have arrested four employees whose tasks at the Elcoteq cellular assembly plant in Tallinn were connected with warehousing. They are also preparing to file charges related to the large-scale theft against about a dozen people.
And in other news...
- About 60 people gathering in the town of Türi, in central Estonia, on 27 May founded a new political party named the Estonian Party of Pensioners. Ants Tamme, editor in chief of the newspaper Videvik, was elected chairman. Tamme said the party has about 900 people on its membership list and soon expects reach the 1000 required to register the party officially.
- Estonian breweries made 26.83 million liters of beer during the first four months of this year, 10.2 percent more than last year.
- The number of automatically collected links of the NETI search engine of Eesti Telefon (Estonian Telephone) exceeded one million during the third weekend of May, showing that the number of Web pages on Estonian Internet servers has reached one million.
Kristin Marmei, 1 June 2001
- Archive of news reviews for Estonia
- Browse through the CER eBookstore for electronic books
- Buy English-language books on the Baltic states through CER
- Return to CER front page