What the papers say: World security realities have changed

Estonian newspapers (photo is illustrative).
Estonian newspapers (photo is illustrative). Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

More on NATO in the light of interior minister Mart Helme's recent comments, the first supermarket home delivery service, and continued conflict between road building and repair work and cable-laying have been in focus in Estonia's dailies, weeklies and news portals on Thursday, Nov. 21. All links in Estonian.

Mart Helme comments aside, world security situation has changed

If Mart Helme made an error in his interview with Finnish daily Iltalehti earlier in the week, he should have thought more about his words, given that sentences can be taken out of context, an opinion piece by Mikk Salu in weekly Eesti Ekspress finds.

Helme's interview on the whole was perfectly rational, the piece argues, exhibiting no hysterical anti-NATO rhetoric, and not saying much he had not said before, and plugs into a line echoed by others, including defense minister Jüri Luik and various diplomats, that the world is changing, the future is complex, and Estonia has to double down on its efforts.

Security policy had previously involved the repetition of various mantras which are not always fully understood, especially Centre – the arch mynah birds, the piece argues, but even the Social Democratic Party (SDE) may have tuned down the jokes about U.S. soldiers coming to Tapa (the NATO battlegroup there is U.K.-led ed.)

Reform is a bit more nuanced, the article says, though the 2014 occupation of Crimea was a wake-up call for it and its supporters from a sort of whig interpretation of history where the future is only bright; indeed it is Crimea which was the watershed, where NATO ceased to be some sort of abstract thing and reality, Article 5 (an attack on one member is an attack on all-ed.) and the fact that the world can sometimes be nasty hit home.

Estonia had been a NATO member for 10 years by then; NATO only really started to seriously address its eastern border from around 2010, the piece says, but even Estonia's own defense forces were mostly used for parades – that is changing now – but now there are serious bigger-picture questions as to what NATO means, what Trump or whoever else ends up taking the next U.S. presidential term, how to deal with Erdogan's Turkey, what mandate Emmanuel Macron has from the French people in the light of his own comments about NATO … or what happens with China.

Facebook account which issued Kaja Kallas threat largely EKRE-supporting

A Facebook account used to issue death and rape threats against Reform leader Kaja Kallas is almost exclusively pro-Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), according to daily Postimees.

While the account name is a pseudonym – Kalle Tamm Vahur – positive references to EKRE on the account's "about" info were there, only disappearing when the daily contacted the account holder, presumably via Facebook's message feature, to ask for comment.

Other changes followed including removing Sweden as the location of the account holder and changing the profile's picture.

However, the account activity seems to be solely related to EKRE, Postimees reports, and shares Uued uudised (EKRE's site) items; the relationship goes both ways, including posting hate-filled comments on Uued uudised's site, including against journalist Ahto Lobjakas, and the account's "friends" included an adviser to the rural affairs ministry, the paper says (at the time of writing, the account's friend list is not visible-ed.).

Centre MP says Road Administration impeding cable network laying

Installing high-speed internet cables has been held up by the Road Administration (Maanteeamet), Centre MP Erki Savisaar told news portal Geenius, including in construction of new roads.

The situation was the subject of a meeting Monday involving the economic affairs ministry, the Information System Authority (RIA), the association of Estonian cities and rural municipalities (Eesti Linnade ja Valdade Liit) and the Riigikogu.

"One problem is that when roads are built or repaired, communication channels are often an afterthought, and if there is an attempt to retrospectively reinstall cable, absurd reasons appear as to why this should not happen, such as we are planning to dig a tunnel at that spot, things like that," Savisaar told Geenius.

A solution is better coordination, he found, though the Road Administration said it has not acted maliciously or been petty: "The Road Administration has worked with power distribution, other network developers, and designers of the relevant infrastructure to try and help find reasonable solutions for the last mile. The owners of utility networks are involved in the preparation of road projects. For other infrastructure, the Road Administration can take into account the needs identified by the service providers during the design process," said the Road Administration's director of strategic planning Martin Lengi .

Savisaar said that IT and foreign trade minister Kaimar Karu should be consulted as well; a €20 million Elektrilevi electricity distribution project scheduled to begin in March this year was delayed until July, Geenius says.

Tartu gets first supermarket home delivery service

The first supermarket in Tartu is to start offering food and product home delivery services, around three years after this had started in Tallinn, regional daily Tartu Postimees reports.

Finnish-owned Prisma is the first supermarket to roll out the service, but others are likely to follow, the article says; the supermarket had already started online ordering in Tartu in July, but customers still had to travel to a collection point to get their purchases.

The service is being offered in conjunction with a local taxi firm and splits the city and its environs up into three zones, over a 10-kilometer radius, with an expansion likely to come, the article said.

While frozen and refrigerated products will not be carried in refrigerated units as they are in Tallinn, the company says that the journey times in Tartu will not make that an issue.

Maxima, Coop, Selver and Rimi all say that they are at developmental stages with their own e-shops and cannot give firm dates when they will be rolled out in Tartu.

Hiiumaa now a sanctuary for endangered European mink

Recent studies show that there are between 60 and 90 European mink on the island of Hiumaa, following a 16-year project which ended in 2016 and saw close to 600 specimens released on the island over that time.

Mink had been previously extinct in Estonia, but now a new mink complex, set up by Tallinn Zoo, the only one of its kind globally, will monitor the animals after being successfullly reintroduced into the wild, according to daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL).

European mink had previously been widespread but have been forced out of their habitats by feral populations of American mink, making the European species the most endangered mammal in Europe.

The center essentially guarantees the species' survival, and its breeding and genetic diversity, and the mink bred there will be released into the wild, with plans to try the same procedure on Saaremaa (an earlier attempt to release European mink there in small numbers failed.

It would also mean that the species could be kept in existence even if it died out everywhere else, which would make Hiuumaa the sole sanctuary of the species worldwide, and would mirror similar projects in both the U.S., where the black-footed ferret was released from the brink of extinction, and Russia, where another European mink population exists, albeit on the Kuril islands off Russia's Pacific coast.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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