Defense Minister Jüri Luik in Washington
Estonian Defense Minister Jüri Luik, in his visit to Washington for a conference of the Joint Baltic-American Committee (JBANC), said the meetings in the US capital convinced him again that the tone of the discussion of NATO enlargement had become considerably more auspicious for the Baltic States.
The main themes of the three-day conference of the JBANC were issues connected with defense and security policy cooperation between the Baltic states and the United States and the procession of the Baltic countries to NATO.
"Inclusion of the Baltic states in the next round of NATO enlargement is becoming a realistic possibility," said Luik. "The Republicans' coming to power after elections has, within a few months, launched the discussion about the new round of expansion of NATO with a new impetus in the United States."
Luik had meetings with several US senators and senior public officials, including Deputy Defense Minister Paul Wolfowitz.
According to the results of a public opinion poll carried out by ES Turu-uuringute AS (ES Market Research) in February, 63 percent of ethnic Estonians support Estonia's membership in NATO. Ethnic Estonians' support of NATO membership has increased to 63 percent, from 56 percent last October.
Minister survives no-confidence vote
As members of the ruling coalition remained unanimous, the opposition's vote of no confidence in Transport and Communications Minister Toivi Jürgenson failed to be carried in Parliament on Monday.
As members of the ruling coalition remained unanimous in his support, lawmakers voted 48-40 against expressing no confidence in Jürgenson, of the ruling Pro Patria Union.
According to deputies of the opposition, the transport minister is personally responsible for the uncontrolled privatization of Eesti Raudtee (Estonian Railway), in accordance with a decision of the government last July.
Jürgenson, who made a report to Parliament on Monday, underlined that the Eesti Raudtee privatization progress is still under control. "This is not the first case in Estonian privatization practice that such a situation has occurred. And talks have been continued with the second-best bidder," Jürgenson said in his own defense.
According to figures published by the ES Turu-uuringute AS, 55 percent of the electors of both of the ruling coalition's Reform Party and the Moderates gave a negative opinion of Jürgenson's perfomance.
Russian publisher shot in Tallinn
Businessman Vitali Haitov, chief executive of leading Russian- language publications Estoniya and the weekly Vesti Nedelya Plus, was shot to death by an unidentified person in Tallinn Saturday afternoon. The body of the retired Soviet naval officer allegedly connected with the underworld was found in his car in a western suburb of Tallinn. Two shots had been fired into his head.
Haitov had worked as director general of the Vesti publishing house since 1995 and was responsible for the publishing of the Estoniya. Haitov had held a 52 percent stake in the Estoniya since 1997.
Haitov, who had Russian citizenship, was born in the Soviet Central Asian Republic of Tajikistan in 1944. He graduated from the pedagogical institute of Mogilev, Belarus, as a history teacher. He was a member of the board of the Soviet naval veterans club in Estonia and had numerous Soviet decorations.
Haitov's son, Marian Haitov, was killed in a similar attack as he was starting his Mercedes in front of his house in Tallinn. Police and the media cited controversial business interests as a possible motive for the killing. The killer hasn't been caught.
The police have two main versions of Haitov's killing at present. They have not ruled out that Haitov, known as a simple speculator in the underworld, was killed by a person who did not want to repay a debt. Another scenario is a possible a connection between Vitali Haitov's killing and his son Marian's killing.
Haitov was buried on Thursday beside his son. About 500 people attended the funeral.
Estonian trade unions and employers sign partnership accord
The Estonian Trade Unions Central Association (EAKL) and the Estonian Employers and Industry Central Union (ETTK) signed a bilateral social partnership agreement on Wednesday. The cooperation agreement stresses promotion of industrial training on the enterprise level.
"I have a high opinion of the agreement, as it is the first serious step in talks between EAKL and ETTK," said Kadi Pärnits, chairwoman of the trade unions' central association. She said that by the agreement the two organizations would declare for the first time that they value the existence of strong social partners in Estonia and will make every effort toward further promotion.
"If problems arise in day-to-day life or collective bargaining agreements, the people from enterprises and branches can refer to the agreement," Pärnits said.
And in other news...
- A new prison is to be built in Tartu, on one condition: that it only hold 500 prisoners. The Tartu city government refused to issue a permit to build the prison in January, because it was not clear how many prisoners the Justice Ministry was planning to put in it.
- A major advertising campaign in Estonian media has failed to attract enough young people to choose the career of peacekeeper, with only about 30 joining the force instead of the necessary 150. The main reason for the low interest was said to be the low pay of peacekeepers when not on a mission.
Kristin Marmei, 16 March 2001
- Archive of Estonian news reviews
- Archive of articles on Estonia
- Browse through the CER eBookstore for electronic books
- Buy English-language books on the Baltic states through CER
- Return to CER front page