In case you missed it: January 4-10

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and President Kersti Kaljulaid at Kadriorg on Friday. January 10, 2020.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and President Kersti Kaljulaid at Kadriorg on Friday. January 10, 2020. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The past week has been an eventful one both in Estonia and abroad. Here's a snapshot of the news from Estonia and the Estonian angle on news from abroad over the past week, as reported by ERR News.

On Sunday, it was reported that deteriorating air quality caused by ongoing bushfires forced the Estonian Embassy in Australia to temporarily relocate from the Australian capital of Canberra, in New South Wales, to Sydney.

The state of New South Wales, in the country's southeast, is one of the hardest hit by widespread bushfires that have been ongoing since October. Estonia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs pledged €50,000 in disaster support, and even Tallinn Zoo is chipping in to help.

On Monday, the Harku plant of fish producer M.V.Wool, which had previously tested positive for Listeria, was reported to have tested clean for the listeriosis-causing bacteria.

Following deep cleanings of both plants, the company had already relaunched production at its Vihterpalu plant, and later this week it was announced that production could resume at its Harku plant as well.

10,000 children unvaccinated against measles

On Tuesday, ERR News reported that 10,000 children in Estonia are unvaccinated against measles because their parents refuse to have them vaccinated. Also at risk are individuals who were only vaccinated against measles with a one-dose Soviet vaccine prior to 1980, whom the Health Board recommends get an MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) booster.

In the internet era, people can be subject to phishing, attempts to scam someone using spoof emails, webpages and similar tactics, however one Rapla resident was reported to have lost over half a million euros to a phone fraud scheme.

International container shipping company Maersk has halted scheduled cargo shipping from the Port of Sillamäe as of this month, ERR News reported Tuesday. According to a representative of Maersk Eesti, the company has not ruled out returning to the Northeastern Estonian port in the future.

2020 immigration quota already exhausted

Within the first week of the new calendar year, the number of residence permit applications received has already exceeded the 2020 immigration quota, the Police and Border Guard (PPA) reported on Tuesday.

The Estonian government endorsed the immigration quota for 2020 at 1,314, one less than the previous year. Despite several categories of people being exempt, the immigration quota was exhausted within the first half of the year in 2018 and, like this year, at the beginning of the year in 2019.

On Thursday morning, ERR News reported that teachers at Kiviõli High School had canceled a planned strike once talks were agreed to be held later this week regarding reinstating Heidi Uustalu as school principal through the end of the school year.

Uustalu was fired last month for allowing the youth wing of the Reform Party to hold a meeting on school grounds. The unexpected dismissal was protested by students and staff alike prior to the holidays, including with a warning strike, and a new strike was planned for January if no progress was made.

ERR News also reported that Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) Gen. Martin Herem said on ETV news broadcast Aktuaalne kaamera the night before that Estonian troops serving in Iraq were withdrawing to Kuwait following Iranian missile strikes on allied bases in the former.

Andres Parmas was also approved as Estonia's next prosecutor general, replacing Lavly Perling, who had continued to serve as acting prosecutor general after her term of office ended last October.

The Centre Party and Isamaa had been interested in appointing Perling to a second term, however the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) was against her continuing in the position.

Estonia makes UN Security Council debut

The government announced a new plan on Thursday according to which Tallinn-Tartu and Tallinn-Pärnu Highways would be expanded into four-lane (2+2) roads by 2030.

Also reported Thursday was that, of the people of 147 different nationalities living in Estonia, over 10,000 were Ukrainian.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) made his debut on the UN Security Council with a speech calling for an end to tensions in the Middle East as well.

On Friday, ERR News reported that even if an additional planned radar was built in southern Lääne-Viru County, according to a map released by the Ministry of Defence, half of Ida-Viru County would still remain off-limits to the construction of new wind farms.

Illar Lemetti was also reported to have enough votes on Viimsi Municipal Council to be elected mayor of the municipality once representatives of Isamaa and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) pledged to join Reform in support of the latter's nominee.

Lemetti had previously served as secretary general of the Ministry of Rural Affairs before being dismissed by Minister of Rural Affairs Mart Järvik the same morning last November that Järvik himself was dismissed as minister by the government.

New Finnish prime minister visits Estonia

Following tradition, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin paid her second visit as the new head of government to the neighboring Estonia, where she met with Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) and President Kersti Kaljulaid. The two heads of government also held a joint press conference on Friday afternoon, where they reaffirmed Estonia and Finland's strong ties.

Marin, a member of the Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP), was sworn in as Finland's prime minister after party mate Antti Rinne announced the resignation of his government on December 3.

The heads of Tartu University Hospital (TÜK) clinics also expressed no confidence in TÜK CEO Priit Eelmäe after the latter announced a planned reform of the university hospital clinics' management model, including the intention to make all clinic director positions fixed-term.

Eelmäe said that the expression of no confidence was unexpected, as the announced reform had long since been in the works. The changes could be postponed again, he said, but they were nonetheless both necessary and inevitable.

The good news

On a more positive note, Russia officially thanked Estonia for its help in returning Prosha the bear after he and his sister Polyna, rehabilitated orphans who had been reintroduced in the wild to Estonia's southeast, had wandered through Eastern Latvia into Southern Estonian territory.

In an appearance on Sunday morning program Hommik Anuga, Turkish expat Mustafa Celik, who works as a cameraman for ETV and has obtained Estonian citizenship, told host Anu Välba that living in Estonia is almost like winning the jackpot, only Estonians themselves don't realize it.

Tallinn German High School also reopened its completely renovated school building this week.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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