What the papers say: Estonia had a quiet New Year, but making waves abroad ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Estonian newspapers (picture is illustrative).
Estonian newspapers (picture is illustrative). Source: Andrew Whyte/ERR News

The morning after the New Year's Eve the night before, more international recognition for Estonia abroad, and the country's continued fast internet were among the topics looked at by the dailies, weeklies and other publications, on Thursday, January 2 2020.

All links in Estonian unless otherwise noted.

New Year passes off relatively incident free.

Towns across Estonia have been picking up the pieces after the New Year's eve celebrations.

While the border town of Valga found more than a few spent fireworks, empty bottles, and even egg cartons littering the streets, rescuers in both Ida-Viru County and in Pärnu - Rescue Board (Päästeamet) personnel in the latter town reporting just one apartment fire and a few garbage can fires to put out – nationwide there was a higher level of callouts than normal (link in English), both for rescuers and the police.

Estonia has long been famed for its fast internet speeds, as well as broad coverage, and recent tests conducted by the Consumer Protection and Regulatory Authority (TTJA) show that the mantel is still very much still in place, with mobile internet speeds increasing by an average of 70 percent over a two-year period, regional daily Järva Teataja reports.

Estonia still has enviably fast mobile internet speeds

Estonia has long been famed for its fast internet speeds, as well as broad coverage, and recent tests conducted by the Consumer Protection and Regulatory Authority (TTJA) show that the mantel is still very much still in place, with mobile internet speeds increasing by an average of 70 percent over a two-year period, regional daily Järva Teataja reports.

The TTJA tested thousands of times over a 3,000-kilomter span of each of Estonia's "big three" networks – Elisa, Telia and Tele2, and found that Elisa was the fastest overall for download speeds, with a data rate of 83 Megabits per second (Mbps), followed by Telia on 78 Mbps and Tele2 at 63 Mbps. By comparison, average mobile internet download speeds in the U.K. in early 2019 were according to one report (link in English) a little under 22 Mbps.

Elisa still came out top when measure at over 160 specific locations, with download speeds of 131 Mbps, compared with 125 Mbps for Telia, and 94 Mbps for Tele2.

In the capital the story was the same, with Elisa showing download speeds of 120 Mbps, according to the report, followed by Telia on 108 Mbps and Tele2 on 93 Mbps.

Since a whole variety of environmental and other factors are at play in determining internet and movile data speeds, measurements varied, but one outlier the TTJA recorded at Kärla, on Saaremaa, came from Telia; a figure of 564 Mbps was reported.

Estonia on CNN top 20 must-see destinations

Estonia has made the top 20 list of must-see places worldwide compiled by U.S. news channel CNN, according to daily Õhtuleht.

Joining such alumni as Copenhagen in Denmark, the Dead Sea in Israel and Galway, Ireland, is the entire country of Estonia, which while lacking an international culinary reputation, CNN opines, should see that change as the Bocuse d'Or international cuisine competition holds its European round here in May.

Restaurant Ö and the Tabac bar are mentioned as worth a visit as the perennial recommendation of Tallinn's Old Town, and the draw of the country's bogs, forest and natural attractions, as well as its spa centers.

"Truth and Justice" director speaks to L.A. Times

Speaking of international recognition for Estonia, Oscar-shortlisted movie "Truth and Justice" based on the Anton Hansen Tammsaare pentalogy of the same name ("Tõde ja Õigus" in Estonian) has been doing the same there, with the film's maker, Tanel Toom speaking to the Los Angeles Times (link in English).

Toom said that despite being Estonian, he had not got to grips with Truth and Justice till a little bit later in life – which he said was a good thing, as his life experience and fact that he had already passed out of two film schools made maknig up for lost time easier.

"What really affected me was how contemporary the struggles of the characters of the novels were," Toom said, noting that the characters' keeping of their feelings inside was a very Estonian thing.

Capturing the long time-frame of the story (nearly 25 years) necessitated filming over all four seasons – 75 days in total, over an 18-month period – though with the weather, including the regulation Estonian snow-in-spring – not helping

Other challenges, Toom said, included that it was such a well-known part of Estonia's heritage that almost everyone from the county would have a view on how a film version should be created.

Political scene battle lines very sharply drawn

An opinion piece by Eero Epner in investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress looked at the past year in terms of the coalition government which came into office in late April, saying that the "mythical gadget on the ceiling of a minister's office" (referring to claims made by former rural affairs minister Mart Järvik that his office had been bugged-ed.) was a metaphor for the whole year.

Politicization and polarization has become such that, Epner says, the a Riigikogu presentation by the director of Statistics Estonia was almost unattended, due to its "neutral" nature, while at the same time the opposition parties (Reform and SDE-ed.) have become largely toothless, with platitudes referring to "honesty", "conscience" and the like coming in the wake of the many outbursts certain coalition members have been prone to down the months.

The press, too, has fallen into this "good versus evil" narrative, the piece argues, but at the same time, it seems the current coalition – headed up by Jüri Ratas, who has had almost no experience outside of politics, is going nowhere.

We know exactly when mild winters became the norm

Against the backdrop of another mild (so far) winter in Estonia, former prime minister Andres Tarand said that the precise date when this started to happen could be pinpointed – 1988.

In an interview with agricultural weekly Maaleht, Tarand noted that after this year, the Gulf of Tallinn freezing over was the exception, rather than the norm.

He also set that against his experiences visiting Antarctica – destination for an Estonian ship, the Admiral Bellingshausen, due to make landfall there later this month. While Antarctic tourism wasn't really a thing when he first went there, now it is, with all sorts of regulations in place such as a bar against humans approaching within five meters of a penguin (the reverse is ok) or removing even the smallest stones from the continent.

Western Antarctica is much more suitable for tourism, Tarand says, being safer and more accessible, as well as hosting a greater biodiversity then the east of the continent, but at the same time the effects of climate change are more apparent there.

With drilling experiments on Antarctica ongoing, greater knowledge of what will lie ahead with climate change will add to observations already made closer to home in Tallinn, he said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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