The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have decided to ask NATO to continue patrolling their skies until 2018, when the three alliance newcomers expect to take over the job, an official said Friday. "The chiefs of the Baltic defence forces decided to ask NATO to continue with the current air defence solution at least until 2018, under which other NATO members patrol our skies," Estonian military spokesman Andres Sang told AFP after a meeting of Baltic army leaders in Estonia. "Meanwhile, the Baltic states will continue joint activities to enhance their air defence capabilities," Sang said. "We will continue the development of the joint radar system Baltnet, carry on joint training and devise more long-term plans on how to carry on after 2018," he said. The formal request to NATO will be made by the three governments later in the year, he said.
* Following the recent Swedish police raids, tournament organisers are playing it safe
The action packed Swedish Poker Championship took place this week... in Tallinn, Estonia following recent Swedish police raids on poker tournaments. The last minute change of location did nothing to diminish a great event in which many leading stars took part, and an amateur player triumphed.
The No-Limit Texas Hold'em event was played Wednesday to Saturday last week and attracted a starting field of 268 keen players, seven women among them, with two of them reaching the final table.
Amateur player Carl-Johan Geijer, a 33-year old financial adviser from Stockholm, defeated 21-year old female player Michaela Johansson in an exciting heads-up to claim the title and $130 000 in prize money.
* Tallinna Tudengipäevade raames 18. aprillil Club Hollywoodis valitaval Miss Universityl kogutud hääletusraha annetatakse Eesti Lastefondi.
Tallinna Tudengipäevade raames 18. aprillil Club Hollywoodis valitaval Miss Universityl kogutud hääletusraha annetatakse Eesti Lastefondi. Seitsmendat korda valitav Miss University on see aasta eriline, sest esmakordselt koostöös weekend.ee ja teiste koostööpartneritega annetatakse rahvalemmiku SMS hääletusel kogutud raha Eesti Lastefondi.
Ürituse peakorraldaja sõnul tahetakse sellest traditsioon teha, et tudengid teevad head ja näitavad eeskuju. "Iga pisike heategu teeb alati tuju ja enestunde paremaks" kommenteeris peakorraldaja Andres Torm.
Annetatud rahal on ka olemas juba kindel funktsioon suve alguseks kui Eesti Lastefondil on kavas põhikooli õpilastega minna Rajaleidjate lõpumatkale loodusesse. Rajaleidjad kujutab endas sotsiaalsete oskuste õpetamise projekti ning sel aastal toimub see Sikupilli Gümnaasiumis.
"See on igati märkimisväärne, et kõik missikandidaadid ja tudengid pööravad sellistele asjadele tähelepanu" lisas Eesti Lastefondi poolne projektijuht Tuuli Elstrok.
* Despite a slow start, Estonia cruised to a 4-3 win over France at IIHF World Championship Division I Group A action here on Sunday.
France had the early momentum and took a 1-0 lead near the close of first period on a power-play goal by Vincent Bachet and then expanded to 2-0 advantage 5:51 into the second period after Anthoine Lussier deflected Luc Tardif's pass through Estonian goaltender Oleg Monin.
It took the Estonians just 1:29 later to respond, Andrei Makrov had a simple tap-in of the puck after being set up by Aleksandr Petrov.
Spurred on by the goal, the Estonians dominated the rest of the period with two more goals from Andrei Makrov in the stanza to even the score 3-3 in spite of Laurent Meunier added France their third goal midway in the period.
Penalty trouble haunted the Estonia in the period, but France failed to capatalize on the one-man advantage and neither found the net further.
Estonia scored three times out of three attempts to earn the 1:0 overtime victory as the match came to the shootout decider.
* Cablevision-owned VOOM HD Networks has inked a carriage agreement with satcaster Orbit in the Mideast to launch its VOOM HD channel in that region.
The agreement heralds VOOM HD as the first high-def channel in that burgeoning part of the world. It also heralds Orbit as a leader in deploying high-def channels to its viewership in 23 countries.
Deal, which was brokered by thematic channels distrb ZoenMedia, was unveiled Sunday in Cannes by Orbit prexy-CEO Samir Abdulhadi, VOOM HD S VP Glenn Oakley and ZoneMedia sales director Louise Cottrell.
Orbit, a leading pay-TV satellite platform in the MidEast and North Africa, will launch VOOM HD in April, as the region's first and only HD channel.
VOOM HD programming focuses on adventure travel, fashion, luxury lifestyle, live concerts, action sports and videogaming.
Since initiating its global expansion effort 18 months ago, the VOOM HD brand has licensed 500 hours into 50 countries. The global VOOM HD channel has launched in Scandinavia, Estonia and Latvia, and will soon launch in Hong Kong and in Singapore.
* The Finnish prime minister-elect has welcomed an announcement that Estonia intends to increase its alcohol excise tax.
Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said the state tax on both alcohol and tobacco would increase in 2008. The current low excise is a key factor in attracting Finnish tourists to Estonia.
However Finland’s acting prime minister Matti Vanhanen, who is currently negotiating to form a governing coalition, said his country may also increase its excise tax as a result of the Estonian decision.
Estonia’s excise on alcohol plays a key factor in determining the Finnish policy, Vanhanen told the business daily newspaper Kauppalehti.
* Tallinn’s infamous Valli Baar – a smoky dive popular with old vodka-drinking men – has been placed under a heritage protection order. The Estonian city has deemed that the working class bar is as important as the Old Town’s church towers and cobbled streets.
The Tallinn Cultural Heritage Department filed the protection order to preserve the bar, which is the last example of 1960s décor left in the Old Town.
The bar, which has remained the same since it opened in 1696, is famous amongst locals for its smoky atmosphere, its friendly local customers and its cheap drinks. It is best known for its house specialty, the milli mallikas (jellyfish), a firey shot of tequila, sambuca and Tabasco sauce.
Cultural Heritage Department head Boris Dubovik said the bar should be preserved because of its iconic style.
“This is the last bar in the Old City with 1960s design. All other bars from this period have been rebuilt in a modern style,” he told The Baltic Times. “I am afraid that if there is money, they will rebuild this bar.”
* A controversial pipeline to carry Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany could run through Estonian waters, an official from the consortium behind the project said on Friday.
The Nord Stream consortium "sees a possibility that the pipeline could go through Estonian waters," spokeswoman Neel Stroebaek told reporters.
"Two days ago we asked the Estonian authorities for a permit to measure the depth of the sea in Estonian waters," she added, according to Baltic News Service BNS.
Estonian sources contacted by Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa confirmed that an informal application has been received, but that more details would be needed before any permit could be issued.
"Nord Stream have to explain the purpose of the study : what they intend to do, the timetable and what they will need," Ehtel Halliste, spokeswoman for the Estonian foreign office, told dpa.
The pipeline has been the subject of bitter dispute in the Baltic region ever since it was first proposed in 2005. Many of the states bordering the Baltic have argued that it could disturb stores of chemical weapons dumped in the sea after World War Two.
Such dumps have been located in Estonian waters, but the maps pinpointing them are very old and intensive research would have to be carried out to avoid the risk of an environmental disaster, said Allan Gromov of the Estonian environment ministry.
The Finnish government recently asked that the pipeline be routed outside Finnish waters in order to protect the environment, Stroebaek said.
Given Estonian fears, any routing of the pipeline through Estonian waters is likely to be welcomed in Tallinn.
"If such an idea were to appear, it means we would automatically be part of the environmental impact assessment scheme," Gromov pointed out.
But the planned pipeline could equally meet with political opposition. If completed, it would create separate routes for Russia to supply gas to Eastern and Western Europe.
On April 11, 2007, AS NORVIK BANKA has been approved as a member on the Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius stock exchanges. AS NORVIK BANKA has become the 17th pan-Baltic member.
NORVIK BANKA, established on 29 April 1992, is the large commercial bank with Icelandic – Latvian capital. The bank operates in the Latvian and international financial markets, offering its services to a wide range of clients – from natural persons to international institutional investors. The largest shareholder of the bank, owning 51% of shares, is the Icelandic company Straumborg ehf.
NORVIK BANKA has been offering brokerage service as well as asset management services in global stock market for more than 5 years. The bank’s subsidiary company Norvik IPS manages one of the most profitable pension funds of Latvia. This year Norvik IPS registered a group of investment funds.
“Membership of the Baltic stock exchanges is the logical step strengthening our position as one of the leaders in the financial service market of the region, and additionally expanding opportunities for our clients,” noted the Head of the bank’s Investment Department I. Kuznecovs.
NORVIK BANKA will trade on the OMX Baltic stock exchanges under the trading code NRK. The Baltic stock exchanges have 40 members altogether.
* A new ship will enter service on the Helsinki-Tallinn route tomorrow, but like all stars, it liked to keep its audience waiting.
Akeryards announced yesterday on their website that they had delivered the mv STAR to their owners Tallink.
The vessel arrived a little late for Tallink who had to announce that due to construction delays the new ferry would start operating on the Helsinki-Tallinn route from tomorrow, 12th of April, a week later than originally planned.
SUPERFAST VIII was rerouted on the Helsinki-Tallinn route before to cover for STAR before she arrives.
mv STAR's particulars :
Length : 185 m Breadth : 27.7 m Passenger capacity : 1,900 Speed : 27 knots Lane metres : 2000 m
The new vessel will make the crossing in 1 hr 55 minutes and Aker Yards say the ship's interior was designed for a short voyage time allowing 'efficient passenger flow' on board the ship.
The ship had wide corridors and arcades, said Aker, with plenty of room in the dining areas.
* Estonian lawmakers adopted an amendment to the constitution aimed at protecting and preserving the Baltic country's language.
The 101-seat Riigikogu, or parliament, overwhelmingly passed a change to the preamble of the constitution to "stress the role of Estonian language as the supporter of Estonian culture and barer of national identity," spokeswoman Margit Liivoja said in a statement.
The amendment was approved by 93 lawmakers, with the rest abstaining or absent.
Education Minister Tonis Lukas hailed the decision, saying the amendment was an important tool for the preservation of the Estonian language, spoken by only about 1 million people worldwide.
In the beginning of 2006 the Estonian Minister of Justice initiated a new activity plan, which sets clear goals in thirteen domains of commercial law based on feedback from entrepreneurs in order to simplify a number of operations and thus increase legal certainty and economic turnover in Estonia. One of the most remarkable of these aims was establishing a new framework for performing most common and relevant commercial procedures (especially concerning internal decisions and register entries of a company) by using electronical means.
As of 1 January 2007, the according amendments to the Commercial Code became applicable and inter alia brought in a new type of legislative proceeding - the expedited procedure of proceeding an entry, also known as the turbo procedure. For instance, it is possible to establish an incorporated entity by turbo procedure within two hours. All petitions for entry will be reviewed on the following day the latest. The basic notarial model of establishing an entity will remain in use along with the new method.
Main factors in the turbo procedure
The turbo procedure differs from the regular model by two main factors.
MOSCOW - Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves is for a dialogue with Russia on the shifting of the monument to the Soviet Liberator Soldier in Tallinn.
“I’d prefer that a solution of this question would include a dialogue with the Russian side. But there was virtually no dialogue, and, therefore, if an approach changes, we can discuss this question,” he emphasized, replying to questions by readers of BBC and the Russian Rambler Internet portal.
Ilves noted at the same time that “if the Estonian government decides to do something in the country’s territory, it has the right to do so, as Russia has the right to decide what it can do in its territory”.
According to the president, there is some misinformation on the position of Russian-speaking residents of Estonia.
“The law on citizenship in Estonia is much more liberal than in many other states of the European Union. Other countries have more stringent demands to a period of living. Estonia would not have been able to join the European Union, if it had not met the EU standards,” he noted.
* In the latest twist in the ongoing controversy over the Bronze Soldier monument in central Tallinn, the governor of Russia's Tula region has suggested that the remains of Soviet soldiers believed to have been interred on the site be reburied in the city of Tula, BNS reported on April 7.
The Estonian government plans to move the monument and any bodies on the site to the more suitable location of a war cemetery. The move has been strongly opposed by local veterans’ groups and by Russia, but welcomed by many Estonians who see the monument as glorifying the postwar occupation of their country by the Soviet Union.
"We are ready to accommodate the war graves from Tallinn in our territory," governor Vyacheslav Dudka told Russian news agency Interfax.
It would be a great honor for Tula, the governor said.
"There are around 120 war graves in our region and we're doing everything necessary to keep them in good order," Dudka said.
Last week the Russian embassy in Tallinn said that relatives of the dead buried at the monument had filed a complaint to the Tallinn Administrative Court against the Estonian Defense Ministry.
The relatives claimed that the Defense Ministry has not done its duty as provided by the War Graves Act passed in January, according to which graves must be marked in a way ensuring due respect of the war victims' remains.
"Representation of the relatives' rights in court was trusted to the Russian embassy in Tallinn," the press service of the embassy said.
Earlier in the week Sergei Ivanov, first deputy premier of Russia called on Russians to boycott Estonian goods and to stop coming to Estonia for their holidays. He proposed that they instead head to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
* ESTONIA'S new government may well be the least bad in eastern Europe. But that’s a modest claim. The serious competition is at the other end of the scale, where Poland currently has the edge for incompetence, the Czech Republic for feebleness and Romania for fractiousness. It’s a pretty bleak picture, the more so with Russia flexing its muscles next door.
By the standards of the neighbourhood even the outgoing Estonian government was adequate. It was stable and reasonably efficient thanks to the canniness of the prime minister, Andrus Ansip. The economy rocketed ahead.
But stability came at the cost of progress. Estonia’s famed innovative edge was blunted. Corruption started creeping up, especially in some ministries and municipalities controlled by his coalition partners. On vital issues such as education and e-government, reform largely stalled.
Mr Ansip’s new coalition should be a boost, not a brake. The main partner is a conservative grouping led by Mart Laar, a visionary former prime minister. Another partner is the social-democratic party to which Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the country’s formidable president, used to belong.
* The German-Russian consortium planning a major gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea said it would investigate alternate routes for the project amid concerns that construction could disrupt the environment.
Sweden in particular has complained that the pipeline could disrupt the Baltic Sea’s sensitive flora and fauna. Other Baltic Sea states, including Finland, Denmark and Estonia, also worry that the construction work could stir up toxic material on the seabed and even disturb unexploded chemical weapons left over from World War Two.
Nord Stream, the Russian-German consortium building the pipeline, seeks to alleviate these concerns and "has decided to launch additional studies to investigate areas where the route of the pipeline through the Baltic Sea can be further optimized in a reasonable way to minimize environmental impacts," according to a statement.
Rerouting the pipeline
Nord Stream first proposed building the pipeline across the Gulf of Finland and down the middle of the Baltic Sea, passing just below the Swedish island of Gotland. But following lengthy consultations with affected Baltic Sea states, the consortium is now looking into three alternate routes.
Estonian Airlines, the national carrier of the Republic of Estonia and part of the SAS Group, has signed a contract with Saab Aircraft Leasing for the lease of two Saab 340s. The aircraft will join its fleet in May and September to commence scheduled flights from the airline's Tallinn Airport base.
The Saab 340s will replace Estonian Airlines larger 50-seat Fokker 50s and become the mainstay complement to the airline's six-strong Boeing 737-500 fleet.
"Estonia has a number of new regional routes to develop, and currently we are studying up to 23 destinations. St Petersburg will be the first market to be developed, historically a significant market for the country" said Estonian Airlines Managing Director Börge Thornbech.