The past week had a distinct fresh start feel. Maris Lauri replaced Jürgen Ligi as the Finance Minister, increasing the number of women in the Cabinet, while demoting a politician who first entered Parliament in 1995. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, in politics since 1999, resigned and will head for political retirement, although much better paid, in Brussels for the next 4-5 years.
With Paet making a u-turn on joining the European Parliament, having first declined the position at the end of October, the Foreign Minister seat became empty. After a short search, the government decided against the preferences of ERR News readers, and nominated Environment Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus to replace Paet, leaving her seat to Reform Party MP Mati Raidma.
The other keyword of the week was “energy security,” with state-owned electricity grid operator Elering opening a 135-million euro back-up power plant complex. The natural gas and diesel powered plants will only be switched on if electricity prices spike or international connections are down, which happened a few weeks ago.
Elering also said it will receive 112 million euros from the EU to build a third power connection to Latvia. The project will cost a total of 170 million euros.
The government gave also a green light to the nationalization of the gas network. The purchase could cost as much as 60 to 70 million euros, and the network will be given to Elering to operate.
In more sobering news, Tallinn City Government passed a bill limiting alcohol sales in the capital on Sundays. The ban will take affect on March 1, the day of the national elections. Other limits, including the ban on sales of hard liqueur in small stores, the norm for the past two decades, were also passed.
President Ilves, and the Presidents of Latvia and Lithuania, were presented with the “European of the Year” award in Berlin on Thursday, the eve of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The Baltic states were acknowledged for restoring independence, promoting European values, integrating with Europe and undertaking successful economic and political reforms.
Academic Mart Rannut said there is a lack of motivation to learn Estonian in the north east of the country, an area where only 20 percent is Estonian-speaking. He said English is spoken more widely than Estonian in Ida-Viru County.
FC Levadia confirmed its dominance on domestic football by clinching the league title in style on Saturday. Levadia needed a win, and beat Narva Trans 8-1. FC Flora was hoping Levadia lose and for a win at Sillamäe Kalev to steal the title on the last day, but Flora lost and was leapfrogged by Sillamäe for the silver medal.