Estonia wins Eurovision
Estonian duo Tanel Padar and Dave Benton took the victory in this year's Eurovision song contest held in Copenhagen on 12 May. Their song, "Everybody," by composer Ivar Must, with backing by the boys'quartet 2XL, received 198 points. The Estonian entry went right into the lead getting the maximum 12 points from the Netherlands, voting first, and kept that position during most of the 23-nation vote, leaving host country Denmark as the runner-up with 177 points. Greece followed in third place with 147 points.
The victory makes Estonia host of the next Eurovision contest in spring 2002. The board of Estonia's public TV channel, Eesti Televisioon (Estonian Television, ETV), set up an international committee on 14 May to organize next year's contest. According to the rules of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Estonia has until 11 June to submit a plan for the contest. ETV said on 14 May that there is no reason to give it away. "Organization of the song contest will be an international cooperation project anyway, and so there is no need to fear lack of experience," ETV foreign relations chief Juhan Paadam said. He added that half the cost to organize the song contest will be covered by EBU, and that it should not be impossible to raise the other part, currently estimated at nearly EEK (Estonian kroons) 50 million (USD 2.8 million), with the joint efforts of Estonian TV, sponsors and the public.
Reform Party wants Tallinn Mayor Jüri Mõis to resign
The Reform Party, Tallinn's governing coalition member, managed to get the required number of signatures to file a vote of no confidence in Mayor Jüri Mõis of Pro Patria Union. Seventeen city councilors signed the bill for the no-confidence vote.
Originally, the Moderates also wanted to support the no-confidence vote, but the board of their Tallinn chapter on 16 May accepted Pro Patria Union's proposal that Tallinn's mayoralty would go to the Reform Party, and Mõis would continue as chairman of the City Council, a post currently held by the Reform Party. The Reform Party also agreed to stay in the capital's power bloc, but only if Mõis resigns and won't occupy some other leading municipal post. The Reform Party maintained that Tallinn's present coalition is the best there could be. Mõis is the only impediment on the way of good cooperation, they said.
At least 33 votes are required for the 31 May vote to be carried in the 64-seat body.
US President nominates new ambassador to Estonia
US President George W Bush announced on 16 May his intention to nominate a new Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Joseph M DeThomas.
DeThomas has previously served as Director of the Office of the European Union and Regional Affairs, Director of Regional Nonproliferation Affairs in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and twice served as Science Officer in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental Scientific Affairs. DeThomas has held several posts abroad, including Deputy Chief of Mission in Vienna and Addis Ababa.
The present United States Ambassador to Estonia, Melissa Wells, has served since October 1998 and will leave Estonia this autumn.
Prime Minister quizzes social scientists on social programs
Prime Minister Mart Laar invited six academics and social scientists for a conference on 17 May to discuss the shaping of a development program centered on the re-creation of social capital for Estonia's second decade of independence. The same group will meet in mid-June to define the program's initial aims, timetable and financial scheme.
The group includes scholars Dagmar Kutsar, Mart Einasto, Raul Eamets, Mikko Lagerspetz, Mati Heidmets, Raivo Vetik and Juhan Kivirähk.
EU talks postponed until June
The next round of talks between Estonia and the European Union, originally scheduled for 11 May, was set back to 1 June because of a lack of agreement on certain chapters.
Estonia's chief negotiator, Foreign Ministry Deputy Chancellor Alar Streimann, said on 15 May that the EU has not reached a joint position concerning some chapters, including the one on environmental issues. At the moment, the member countries are probably very busy discussing issues such as the free movement of labor, Streimann added.
President honors victims of Soviet repressions
President Lennart Meri is planning a 15-day tour of all Estonian counties at the end of May and the beginning of June to hand out nearly 15,000 Broken Cornflower badges to the victims of Soviet deportations.
In the time leading up to the 60th anniversary of the first major Soviet deportation on 14 June, Meri will meet with those who were arrested, deported or otherwise separated from their native country from 1940 onward.
And in other news...
- Denmark will support Estonia with nearly EEK 260 million (USD 14.6 million) this year, most of which will go to nature conservation and preparations for accession to NATO. Denmark's aid to Estonia since 1992 totals EEK 1.8 billion (USD 101.7 million).
- According to the latest statistics, drug addicts in need of money commit 46 percent of crimes in Tallinn, and 20 percent of all crimes in the capitol are committed under the influence of drugs.
Kristin Marmei, 17 May 2001
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