What the papers say: Drunk drivers, state borders

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

On Monday, January 13, in addition to several other major topics, the papers and online news portals in Estonia also wrote about how to combat drunk driving, a new category of free public transport ticket being offered in Tallinn, and the constitutionality of the Estonian-Russian border treaty.

Editorial: Never let someone drive drunk

"So incredibly unjust: three people — a nine-month-old baby, their mother and grandmother — die, and their pregnant aunt is in critical condition at the hospital, because a veteran drunk driver and traffic hooligan crashes into them at high speed," daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) writes in an editorial (link in Estonian) regarding Saturday's fatal crash in Saaremaa.

According to a Ministry of Justice estimate from a few years ago, some 1,000-4,000 drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs may be on Estonian roads every day, only 1-2 percent of whom are ever caught, and while drunk drivers may only account for a fraction of all drivers, they are the cause of approximately one in five traffic deaths.

Increasing the amount of sobriety checkpoints likely wouldn't help, and punishments for drunk driving have already been made tougher, but in the case of the drunk driver in Saaremaa, punishments probably wouldn't be a deterrent, because once you've already started drinking, you're no longer thinking about punishments.

"A relatively powerful direction would be to ensure that inveterate traffic hooligans and drunk drivers don't have access to their instrumentality — i.e. their car," the paper writes, noting that it is an option already available, but adding that perhaps this option should be employed more frequently.

The most effective tool, however, would be a change in attitude, as while nobody really boasts about drunk driving anymore, some people are still too tolerant of or indifferent to it — calling the police on a drunk driver, even if it is their own family member or friend, could save lives.

Free public transport for major Tallinn event participants

The City of Tallinn has introduced a new conference ticket to its public transport ticket system which will allow participants at conferences and other major events to ride city public transport for free for the duration using a special QR code either on their phone or in printed form, daily Postimees writes (link in Estonian).

"If event organizers have already sent registered participants the QR ticket code, foreign guests are already guaranteed a free ride into town via tram directly from the airport," Tallinn Deputy Mayor Andrei Novikov (Center) said.

Event organizers interested in providing event participants with a conference ticket should submit their application at least one month ahead of the first day of the event, and applications should include the name, a description and the dates of the event, the approximate number of participants, information about the organizers as well as the dates for which they are seeking free transport with the ticket — as participants may arrive in town ahead of time and leave town after.

Once an application is approved, a unique QR code is generated that is only valid for the dates listed in the application and which event organizers can email to participants as well as for example print on their event passes.

Versus: Is the border treaty unconstitutional?

Asked whether or not Estonia's border treaty with Russia is unconstitutional, President of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas (EKRE) and MP Marko Mihkelson (Reform) disagreed completely, daily Eesti Päevaleht writes (link in Estonian).

"The Constitution states that the Estonian-Russian border is defined by the Treaty of Tartu, our airspace and territory are an inseparable and indivisible whole, and that the state will not sign any unconstitutional foreign treaties," Põlluaas said, finding that the current treaty is, in fact, unconstitutional.

The president of the Riigikogu found it duplicitous that some politicians speak out against the occupation and annexation of Georgian and Ukrainian territory and in defense of their territorial integrity, but at the same time want to give up 5 percent of Estonian territory.

Citing § 122 of the Constitution, however, which includes language about Estonia's land border being determined by the Treaty of Tartu and "other international border agreements" and sea and air borders being determined "on the basis of relevant international conventions," Mihkelson highlighted that World War II changed nearly all countries' borders in Central and Eastern Europe.

"That is why the authors of the Constitution wrote in the opportunity for the national border to be defined according to international conventions if necessary.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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