Save for the continued election debate, a brotherly spat with Finland and the arrival of a former Guantanamo inmate in Estonia, the week was dominated by positive news from the cultural sphere.
The week literally got off to a very slippery start. Icy roads caused countless number of vehicles to veer off the road, including a massive pile-up on Tallinn-Narva highway, were an unprecedented four lorries and nine cars crashed in a space of 150-200 meters. Four people were taken to the hospital from the scene. Fortunately, none suffered life-threatening injuries.
On Wednesday afternoon, 31-year-old Ahmed Abdul Qader, a former inmate at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, arrived in Estonia. The government had decided to welcome one inmate who has never been convicted of terrorism to the country back in October. Qader, whose identity the government never intended to disclose, came to Estonia on his own free will and has already filed an asylum application.
Later that day, world-renowned Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi conducted the inaugural gala of the long-awaited new concert hall Philharmonie de Paris in France. The new hall was opened by French President François Hollande and the special gala performance included the world premier of French composer Escaich's Concerto for Orchestre.
January 15, 2015, will go down in the history books as the day Estonian received its first ever Oscar nomination. The Estonian-Georgian movie "Tangerines" was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film, alongside Russia's "Leviathan", Poland's "Ida", Mauritania's "Timbuktu" and Argentina's "Wild Tales". The film's producer Ivo Felt said in his usual down-to-earth style that their chances of winning the coveted golden statuette are very slim, but he hopes the nomination will secure a commercial distribution deal in the US.
Later in the evening, Estonians sat down to watch another gala - the Estonian Music Awards. Folk band Curly String made an almost complete sweep, going home with the Best Album, Best Band, Best Debut Album, and Best Song awards. The Best Male and Best Female Artist titles went to Karl-Erik Taukar and the US-based Maria Minerva respectively.
One of the biggest scandals of the week was a discord between Estonian and Finnish Foreign Ministries, following Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja's comments on Estonian and EU reactions to Russian propaganda. ”How the Baltics have acted, it sounds like nationalism, failing to offer news in Russian,” he said, apparently ignorant of the fact that Delfi, Postimees and ERR all offer online news in Russian, while ETV also runs Russian-language news programs. His Estonian peer Keit Pentus-Rosimannus reacted by summoning the Finnish ambassador to explain Tuomioja's remark about Estonia's alleged "nationalism". Although some accused Pentus-Rosimannus of overreacting, Tuomioja later retracted some of this comments. “I apologize for the fact that the my words have received negative attention, due to the misinterpretation. I am perfectly aware of the fact that there is a Russian-language radio- and TV-program in Estonia,” he said in a telephone interview to ERR.
Over the weekend, Estonia's winter capital Otepää hosted world's top skiers. Both individual sprint titles at FIS Cross Country World Cup went to Norway, whereas team sprints were won by Sweden and Russia. Estonia only managed a single top 10 finish in men's team free sprint.
Editor: M. Oll