What the papers say: Future of Europe with Russia or without? ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Estonian newspapers (picture is illustrative).
Estonian newspapers (picture is illustrative). Source: ERR

Britain going to the polls on Thursday, the future of Russia in Europe, and life after Ott Tänak at Toyota's WRC team were among the topics covered in Estonia's daily and weekly newspapers, news portals and other media, on Thursday, December 12. All links in Estonian unless otherwise noted.

Whatever happens in U.K. elections, Brexit has a long way to go yet

Possible outcomes for Thursday's U.K. general election were the subject of an opinion piece by Ekvard Joakit, a student at the University of Sheffield, writes in daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL), with a prognosis of further chaos even if Boris Johnson does win as most predictions would have it, and the likelihood of Brexit getting done any time soon not increasing by much, if at all.

Primary problems facing the Conservatives mirror those of the opposition Labour Party, with a wide range of stances on Brexit, from anti-, to hard exit and all the other positions in between, to be mediated.

While Johnson cannot alienate voters in Tory constituencies which voted in favor of remain, without risking those seats in a future election, groups like the European Research Group (ERG) are likely to oppose a Norway-style set-up as well, the piece argues.

Both Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are not in full control of their parties, the piece says, with the latter's unclear stance on Europe and plan to negotiate another deal with the union which would then be put to a referendum at odds with the pro-Europe faction in his party; the piece also worries what Britain's commitment to the NATO battlegroup, which is British-led in Estonia, might be, but notes that the opinion polls, almost never wrong, say Labour can't win anyway.

Of the rest, the only hope for the pro-Europe Liberal Democrats would be the unlikely event of going into coalition with Labour; the SNP, also pro-Europe, are in a stronger position, however, with good relations with Labour and the promise of another independence referendum dangled before them by the latter; the Greens and UKIP are all at sea, and the Brexit Party – whose candidates include former Tallinn city councillor Abdul Turay – virtually surplus to requirements given the slim chances of Labour or the Liberal Democrats winning, and their avoidance of running in seats clinched by the Conservativces at the last general election in 2017.

The ongoing debate on Russia's future relations with Europe

Daily Postimees meanwhile covered the first half of a debate (the rest is to follow on Friday) between two of Estonia's MEPs, Yana Toom (Centre) and Marina Kaljurand (SDE) on the issue of Russia and whther Europe's future security should be built in cooperation with that country – with Toom arguing it should, and Kaljurand, a former Estonian ambassador to Russia, saying the opposite.

Yana Toom said that Russia, with the fifth largest military in the world and sheer vast scale even in the European portion of the country, is simply too big to ignore, a move which in any case would be a mistake and push it into the camp of an enemy and threaten a return to the fractious days of the cold war.

Toom also drew from the example of Germany, whose shunning after World War One led to problems which meant such a mistake was avoided after World War Two, noting that the world order has changed in any case with the emergence of China, India and various African nations, and a strong Europe with Russia on board will be necessary to counter the first of these countries, as well as the U.S., Toom opined.

Arguing against this, Marina Kaljurand said that while Russia should not be excluded per se, and there is always a need to cooperate, this can only happen once things have changed in Russia, given its radically different stances on democracy, security and the rule of law, its unwillingness to respect national sovereignty, contrasting with EU and NATO countries, its unpredictable nature, and unwillingness to abide by international agreements such as the UN Charter and the Helsinki Accords.

It is wrong to talk about pushing Russia away, Kaljurand argues, noting that it is Russia that has done much of the pushing, including that which left to its being expelled from the G8 (now G7), with the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the ongoing insurgency fighting in eastern Ukraine, as well as the earlier Georgian War.

Toyota not worried about departed Ott Tänak

According to an article in daily Õhtuleht, Toyota WRC team is not worried about former driver and newly-crowned world champion Ott Tänak's move to Hyundai.

Toyota Rally Team Technical Director Tom Fowler told U.K. weekly motorsport magazine Autosport that the car, the Yaris, was in good shape going forward and that Tänak would not be bringing any trade secrets to his new team.

"Ott knows we focused on reducing the car's weight, but he doesn't know exactly what we planned to do," Fowler said, adding that other issues related to gearboxes, was not a worry either.

Hyundai's star driver, at least until now, 2019 runner-up Thierry Neuville, said that Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja will be bringing their A-Game to the team, which has the best car.

The new season starts, as per tradition, in Monte Carlo , a little after 9.30 p.m. Estonian time on January 23.

Fire safety act amends make carbon monoxide sensors mandatory with solid-fuel burning heating systems

The coalition in Estonia approved a draft amend to the Fire Safety Act on Thursday which would make carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in all rooms where solid-fuel burning heating was provided, according to a piece on news portal Geenius, with the aim of reducing fatalities, improve dire safety and also improve private sector competence in those areas.

The coalition in Estonia approved a draft amend to the Fire Safety Act on Thursday which would make carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in all rooms where solid-fuel burning heating was provided, according to a piece on news portal Geenius, with the aim of reducing fatalities, improve dire safety and also improve private sector competence in those areas.

At present a carbon monoxide detector is only required by law in dwellings where a gas appliance is installed; smoke detectors have been mandatory in all homes for 10 years regardless of the type of heating used.

Additionally, the Rescue Board (Päästeamet) is to be provided with data concerning installed heating systems and their condition, a register which should also make issuing permits for extensions, auxiliary buildings etc faster.

The act will also require industrial, warehouse and office building owners to meet criteria is fire safety checks, which can be carried out by a qualified fire safety expert, as well as amends which allow the use of controlled burns in forested areas to aid nature conservation.

The changes are scheduled to enter into force on July 1, 2020, with the carbon monoxide detector obligation taking effect on January 1 2022.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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