Opinion

Digest: Why Estonia's contributions in Africa continue to make sense

15.10.18 ... Foreign news editor at daily Postimees, Martin Kutti writes in a comment for his paper why Estonia should continue to contribute to international efforts in Africa's Sahel zone. Kutti accompanied Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) and Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) Gen. Riho Terras to Mali earlier in October.

Former Hansapank CEO Indrek Neivelt: Take your pensions to mutual funds

12.10.18 ... The government deserves credit for its changes to the second pillar of Estonia's funded pensions system, entrepreneur Indrek Neivelt writes in an opinion piece for ERR. With the exception of Tuleva, a mutual fund owned by its contributors, Estonia's funds skim stellar fees and produce very low returns. In Neivelt's opinion, none of Estonia's earlier governments or officials stood up for the interests of those paying money into the funds.

Opinion digest: Media comments on Sunday's Saeima election in Latvia

08.10.18 ... Seven parties made it into the Saeima in Latvia's parliamentary election on Sunday, with Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs' Saskaņa/Harmony scoring the biggest number of votes at still just 19%. This means that the largest group in the Saeima will only have 23 mandates, with a broad coalition to be negotiated.

Never a good deed unpunished: Centre Party clean up costing it the election

08.10.18 ... It is hard to imagine the Estonian political scene without the Centre Party as a major player; perhaps Isamaa/Pro Patria (who have long been in the doldrums) are the only other party seeming to be a natural, if rather decrepit piece of furniture. The 2019 elections will be make or break time for Centre, however. Its leader, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, has turned out to be a mature, likeable and seemingly competent cove. But if the seeping Russian support is not replenished with replacements from the Estonian-speaking populace, the party will find itself out of office come March.

Digest: Why does e-Estonia still not have centralised patient registration?

04.10.18 ... In an opinion piece published in daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL), Kätlin Pääro, head of the secretariat of the Centre Party parliamentary group, asks how it is possible that Estonia as an e-state, dogged as it perpetually is by lengthy waiting lists to see a specialist, still lacks centralised, digital patient registration.

Digest: Russian cultural autonomy on other side of Narva River, says Helme

02.10.18 ... In an opinion piece published in daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL), Mart Helme, chairman of the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), finds it unsurprising that Centre Party MEP Yana Toom would want cultural autonomy for Estonia's Russian-speaking population and invites those interested in it to either assimilate or move to Russia.

Sikkut: Registered unemployed not all 'learned helpless'

01.10.18 ... Claims that all of the registered unemployed with the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa) are in a state of "learned helplessness" and only there for the benefits do not hold water. I likewise cannot agree with the opinion that helping the people of Southeastern Estonia is tragicomic, impossible or pointless, Minister of Health and Labour Riina Sikkut (SDE) said in response to Vikerraadio's Mirjam Nutov.

Activist: Estonia could take leading role in fight against waste, pollution

19.09.18 ... Consumerism killed your culture, not invasion or immigration. Show me your shopping malls and I will show you your occupiers. And the casualties are the small scale shopkeepers, the local suppliers and manufacturers, the blue collar workers and homegrown brands out of business, replaced by American logos made in China.

Opinion digest: Traitors getting caught, nobody accepting responsibility

10.09.18 ... Commentators Andrus Karnau and Ahto Lobjakas said on Sunday's issue of ERR radio talkshow Olukorrast riigis ("State of the nation") that while ever since Herman Simm's arrest in 2008 more traitors have been caught, nobody has taken responsibility for the leaking of information of Estonia's security authorities.

VIDEO | What can Estonia offer that other countries can't?

13.08.18 ... Mark Cowan (UK), Lucía Riet de Mahhov (Uruguay), Felipe Mohando (Argentina), Inga Ulena (Latvia) and Andrew Whyte (UK) have all lived in Estonia for a long time. At the 2018 Arvamusfestival in Paide, they discussed how they came to Estonia—and, more importantly, what has since kept them here.

Health minister: Additional healthcare development requires new tax bases

12.08.18 ... According to Minister of Health and Labour Riina Sikkut (SDE), who participated in a discussion on health insurance policy at the 2018 Arvamusfestival in Paide, additional development and funding of healthcare will require new tax revenue bases.

President: Estonia can raise issue of cyber security on UN Security Council

12.08.18 ... President Kersti Kaljulaid, participating in a discussion at the 2018 Arvamusfestival in Paide, said that should Estonia become a member of the United Nations Security Council, there is the "completely clear plan" to raise issues like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence at this level for the first time.

Ilves: Russo-Georgian War exposed Western misconceptions about Russia

08.08.18 ... Former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves wrote on social media on Wednesday that the Russo-Georgian War of 2008 shook up many principal assumptions of the West, and that what has happened since is forcing countries to take another look at their foreign and security policy.

Opinion: Dear Mr. Trump–don't appease Putin at Eastern Europe's expense

16.07.18 ... I and many other Estonians await the summit between the United States and Russia in Finland taking place today, Monday. 16 July, with a certain sense of unease. I hope I'm wrong, but the feeling gnaws at us nonetheless. Situated across the narrow Gulf of Finland from us to the north, Helsinki – the city hosting the US-Russia summit – happens to be located little more than a stone's throw away from Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.

Erik Gamzejev: Discovering Ida-Viru County

12.07.18 ... Estonia is huge. This is what you think every time you hear how many people get excited over the fact that they have visited Ida-Viru County for the first time ever and discovered how interesting of an area it is, writes  Erik Gamzejev, editor-in-chief of the regional paper Põhjarannik.

Opinion: The continued relevance of the EU's Eastern Partnership

09.07.18 ... 'To Sleep, Perchance to Reform', that, if you will pardon the mixing up and misquoting, is the question, raised by Emmet Tuohy, non-resident research fellow at the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) and 2017-18 fellow at the Eurasian Democratic Security Network, in respect of the Eastern Partnership (EaP). The EaP was initiated in 2009 by the EU and is aimed at relations with six post-Soviet states, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine; naturally Estonia, as one of the easternmost EU nations, should play a pivotal role in the EaP. Tallinn-based Tuohy looks at the EaP's future.

Opinion: Prosecutor General on criminal proceedings and public interest

06.07.18 ... A common criticism of the Estonian legal system, directly linked to the role of the Prosecutor General, is that the conviction rate is so high (ie. 99% of cases) that something is broken, and individuals can't feel any trust in the courts. This can even reach to the extent that in some cases people are reluctant to have anything to do with the legal system even when they have a legitimate grievance or could be pivotal in ensuring justice is done. The current Prosecutor General, Lavly Perling, lays out how the legal system should work, especially in relation to the media, and covering three main themes: the truth, people and fair conduct of court proceedings. She starts with a look at how the role of Prosecutor General and its relations with the media developed in the early period of Estonian independence. 

Enterprise Estonia head refutes claims that its emphasis not appropriate

04.07.18 ... Head of Enterprise Estonia Erki Mölder has stated that investors in the country seek sophisticated and quality, skilled personnel, in response to academic and politician Jaak Aaviksoo's criticisms of the organisation's priorities.

Digest: Siim Kallas on a potential Russian-American security deal

26.06.18 ... Though he admits he couldn't possibly know what is going on in Donald Trump's mind, former EU commissioner and now Viimsi municipal Mayor Siim Kallas (Reform) says he can see a kind of grander logic in the actions of the American president.

Opinion digest: Reform couldn't form government with EKRE, says Kross

23.06.18 ... In an opinion piece published by daily Postimees, outgoing Reform MP Eerik-Niiles Kross explained that despite claims implying that every political party in Estonia would be able to reach an agreement with the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and include them in a coalition government, he doesn't believe his party could if they can't see eye to eye on Europe.

Opinion digest: Siim Kallas on Kim-Trump summit

13.06.18 ... Reform Party politician Siim Kallas, who among other positions has served as Estonia's Minister of Foreign Affairs (1995-1996), reflected on the historic summit to take place between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore on Tuesday.

Yana Toom: I'd prefer an Estonian Ministerial role to working in Brussels

08.06.18 ... Centre Party (Keskerakond) MEP Yana Toom was interviewed by ERR's Toomas Sildam recently, and fielded questions on topics including her national identity, the future of the Centre Party in Estonia,  relations between the EU and Russia and the situation in Ukraine.

Ilves at CyCon 2018: 'Cyber NATO' coalition of liberal democracies needed

31.05.18 ... As reported on ERR yesterday, 30 May, former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, speaking at NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDOE) is 10th annual cyber security conference CyCon 2018 in Tallinn, called for an organized union of liberal democracies in order to combat cyber threats globally.

Indrek Tarand on Macron, Europe, and possible return to Estonian politics

30.05.18 ... Estonian MEP Indrek Tarand has been giving hints that he might be returning to domestic Estonian politics.

Johann-Christian Põder: Lutheranism and the welfare society

23.05.18 ... According to Estonian theologian Dr. Johann-Christian Põder, dynamic state reforms along individualist capitalist lines, which he sees as stemming from a more 'Calvinist' approach to society, need to be counter-balanced with the greater solidarity and mutual respect evinced by Lutheran societies.

Former OECD ambassador: Estonia's public sector not unreasonably expensive

16.05.18 ... Reduce the number of public servants by half, cut public sector spending and optimise: such is the recipe of a new platform for reform presented by 28 Estonian entrepreneurs and businessmen earlier this week. Former Estonian ambassador to the OECD, Marten Kokk disagrees, and pits their ideas against the success of the Nordic countries, all of whom spend more on their public sectors than Estonia does.

Toomas Sildam: Reform making Toom's citizenship an issue could backfire

14.05.18 ... The Reform Party's recent Bill aimed at changing the law so that those awarded Estonian citizenship on the basis of special merit could be stripped of that citizenship has something of a sharp whiff of electioneering, writes ERR's Toomas Sildam.

Loone: Eesti 200 movement no different from Res Publica, Reform, Free Party

09.05.18 ... Estonia 200, the self-styled new political movement that emerged last week, is repeating a call for political reform by now well-known in Estonia: do away with red tape, put the state on a slimming diet, induce citizens to take charge of their own health, and apply technology to make everyday life efficient.

IRL forerunner party founder skeptical of new political group

08.05.18 ... Tõnis Kons, one of the founder members of Res Publica, formerly a conservative political party in Estonia which went on to form one half of current coalition incumbents IRL, has expressed skepticism about the emergence of Estonia 200 (Eesti 200) a new conservative player on the Estonian political scene and as such arguably an heir to Res Publica.

Introduce juries at least in criminal trials, says lawyer

02.05.18 ... Lawyer Oliver Nääs, known for representing former long-time Center Party chairman and Tallinn mayor Edgar Savisaar, suggested in a recent opinion piece that Estonia could introduce juries to close the perceived gap between the population and the country's judiciary.

Designated public administration minister's candidacy just an adventure?

30.04.18 ... Editor-in-chief of ERR's news, Anvar Samost, commented in his radio talk show with Ainar Ruussaar on Sunday that it isn't quite clear to him yet whether the designated next minister of public administration, Janek Mäggi, is out for an 11-month adventure or a longer perspective in politics. In early March 2019, the Estonian voters will elect a new parliament, and with it the composition of the government will likely change as well.

Digest: No point budgeting a surplus as inflation eating away at reserves

19.04.18 ... Former banker and prominent Estonian entrepreneur Indrek Neivelt said in an opinion piece for ERR earlier this week that there is little sense in budgeting a surplus: the little the country can save up in reserves will be all but wiped out by inflation.

Stepping out of her father's shadow greatest challenge facing Kaja Kallas

16.04.18 ... Stepping out of her father's shadow is the greatest challenge facing the Reform Party's new chairwoman, Kaja Kallas, political commentator Ahto Lobjakas said on ERR's Raadio 2 on Sunday.

Opinion digest: Kaja Kallas' speech to Reform Party delegates

16.04.18 ... The Reform Party invested Kaja Kallas its new chairwoman on Saturday. According to long-time journalist and commentator Ainar Ruussaar, in her speech to the party delegates Kallas helped herself to ideas and rhetoric that is already several decades old, but also pointed to important current issues.

Opinion digest: Baltic presidents' meeting with Trump a 'milestone'

04.04.18 ... Political commentator Andreas Kaju said on ERR's "Aktuaalne kaamera" newscast on Tuesday evening that the meeting of the Baltic states' presidents with U.S. President Donald Trump is a milestone in a greater diplomatic game, and that it had been one of several meetings currently happening with United States officials.

Digest: Europe has no Russia policy whatsoever, says Toomas Hendrik Ilves

29.03.18 ... Does Europe have a Russia policy? Carnegie Europe senior fellow, Judy Dempsey, asked a number of foreign policy experts about their opinion in the matter, former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves among them.

Neivelt: Alcohol policy mustn't become third rail of Estonian politics

21.03.18 ... The current fights about alcohol excise duties and booze shopping in Latvia are mainly damaging Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE). That the issue is turning into the third rail of Estonian politics could do great damage to the country in the long run, businessman and former top banker Indrek Neivelt said on ERR's Vikerraadio on Tuesday.

Digest: As Reform sidelines its chairman, the party is back at its worst

20.03.18 ... A third of Estonians think that the government is doing a lousy job, which would suggest things are going well for the leading opposition party, daily Eesti Päevaleht wrote in its Tuesday editorial. But Reform is once again busy with itself, as Monday's vote on the party's candidate for the position of deputy speaker shows, and this doesn't bode well for next year's elections.

Digest: Russia's new ideology still based on Great Patriotic War

19.03.18 ... ERR editors Anvar Samost and Ainar Ruussaar commented the Russian presidential election on Sunday, speculating how the country might go on beyond the year 2024, when Vladimir Putin's next term expires.

Toomas Sildam: Pre-election outdoor political ad ban entirely pointless

19.03.18 ... Politicians, end the ban on outdoor political ads ahead of elections. The restriction that went into effect 13 years ago according to which outdoor ads may not be used during the 40 days immediately preceding elections is idiotic, meaningless and entirely unnecessary, writes journalist Toomas Sildam.

Digest: Social media a loophole to covertly fund election campaigns

13.03.18 ... Though the funding of Estonia's political parties as well as their election campaigns is relatively strictly regulated, there is currently a loophole: anyone can pay and run political advertising on social media. While nothing is currently being done about it here, Latvia has begun addressing the issue.

Digest: Tartu's pulp mill debate already part of 2019 election campaign

12.03.18 ... With both local government and interest groups excluded from the planning process, if and where Est-For's announced billion-euro pulp mill will be built is up to just the government and the people with the money. Meanwhile, the process is turning into a farce, and already being abused for political campaigning, commentators Ahto Lobjakas and Andrus Karnau agree.

Digest: Today's Estonia is far more than a speech, and so is the centennial

26.02.18 ... Appropriate optimism, perceived presidential spinelessness, surprising elegance in the least offensive option, and the golden mean: Here are a few comments on President Kersti Kaljulaid's centennial address, all the way from the grandest of receptions to a humble immigrant's domestic epiphany.

Opinion digest: President's Independence Day speech boring and generic

25.02.18 ... Though her image of the dignified state is worth carrying on into Estonia's second century, President Kersti Kaljulaid's centennial Independence Day speech was boring and offered little definition or sense regarding some of her favorite buzzwords, literary critic Peeter Helme wrote in an opinion piece for daily Eesti Päevaleht on Sunday.

Beyond the digital drivel: Long-term expats sound off about life in Estonia

22.02.18 ... It's the week of the Estonian centennial — why not ask a few foreigners what they think about the place? While this would usually provoke little more than a tired shrug and a yawn, Wednesday's episode of talk show "Suud puhtaks" thankfully insisted on Estonian as the language of the discussion. And this brought together an optimistic and charming bunch of expats.

Jüri Raidla: Estonia should halve number of state officials

20.02.18 ... The Estonian state needs to understand the necessity of a state reform that would cut the number of officials exercising public authority by half, prominent lawyer and former Minister of Justice Jüri Raidla said in a speech at a meeting dedicated to the centennial of the Republic of Estonia on Monday.

Turbulent year ahead as Reform and Center get ready for election campaign

14.02.18 ... The campaign leading up to the March 2019 Riigikogu elections will be turbulent. For the first time the Reform Party and the Center Party are both contenders for the government's leadership, and the fate of the smaller parties is all but certain, writes ERR's Toomas Sildam.

Opinion: Border infrastructure shouldn't be part of political campaigns

05.02.18 ... Estonia no doubt needs a properly equipped eastern border, as it is also on the external border of the European Union and NATO. But the effort to build it can't be used in political campaigns. Internal security and national defense can't turn into a score sheet for the political parties, ERR's Toomas Sildam writes.

Other countries would prosecute Alajõe, make Pentus-Rosimannus resign

02.02.18 ... In Estonian business as well as politics, there is a standard excuse for all manner of sins — it's "But look, everyone else is doing it too!" One can't help but wonder if this also applies to the Riigikogu's most senior administrative officer effectively ordering the destruction of evidence in an ongoing court case.

Opinion digest: Estonia headed for government crisis

22.01.18 ... Following the Reform Party's Friday ultimatum, either Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu (IRL) will resign today Monday, or there will be a vote of no confidence against him. In the latter case, the government can't rely on the Social Democrats to toe the line, which could take Estonia into a government crisis, analysts and observers think.

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