Opinion

Opinion: Laagna Road procession of deadlocks itself worthy of a Nolan movie

17.06.19 ... The story surrounding the on-off, will-they/won't they be closing Laagna Road and, according to recent reports, a whole slew of other trademark routes in and around central Tallinn has itself become almost worthy of a movie, particularly one dealing in espionage or counter espionage. There are at least two possible ways of discerning who is in the right and who is in the wrong here, writes ERR News' managing editor, Andrew Whyte.

Opinion: Kremlin friends an isolated group at European Parliament

12.06.19 ... The bubble inflated by right wingers and eurosceptic forces prior to the May European elections was popped on election day, according to MEP Urmas Paet (Reform/ALDE).

Opinion Digest: UN Security Council seat a complex victory

10.06.19 ... Opinion on Estonia winning a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC) for 2020-2021 has mostly been positive, with the consensus being the experience and boosted profile the office should bring outweighs some of its challenges.

Opinion: UN Seat concentrating minds, not divisive folly

10.06.19 ... Estonia's recent UN Security Council (UNSC) victory might tempt many to assume that, in the whole "globalists/federalists" versus stay-at-home nationalists war of words dominating recent months, the former won and confirmed their primacy, while the latter have been dealt a richly deserved blow and will now retreat back to their caves.

Züleyxa Izmailova: Walkback on Reidi Road compromise undermining trust

07.06.19 ... The Tallinn City Government's possible withdrawal from an official agreement regarding the limiting of the Reidi Road construction project undermines the trustworthiness of the city government itself, writes former Tallinn Deputy Mayor Züleyxa Izmailova (Greens).

Adam Rang: E-Residency helping Estonia combat criminality

06.06.19 ... Is it contradictory for Estonia to both welcome e-residence as well as deter nonresident criminals? Adam Rang, an Estonian entrepreneur who formerly worked at Estonia's e-Residency program, argues that one is not possible without the other.

Urmas Viilma: Is a human life worth just 12 cents?

06.06.19 ... From a Christian perspective, and based on the principle of loving thy neighbor, the top priority when shaping alcohol policy should be people's lives, health and safety, not tax receipts, Archbishop Urmas Viilma, head of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK), found in commentary first published in Eesti Kirik.

Opinion: In moment of truth, state has no solutions for marginalized areas

05.06.19 ... No four-lane highways, no steps to encourage entrepreneurship in the counties, no concrete substance in regional programs — in its first few months of existence, the current ruling coalition hasn't given a single indication that they have any solutions to offer to help stop marginalization in Estonia, Põhjarannik editor-in-chief Erik Gamzejev says in commentary on Vikerraadio.

Indrek Neivelt: Our high quality of life goes well beyond wages

05.06.19 ... Our wages can't continue to grow 7-8 percent per year for long. Our competitiveness won't be able to keep up, and so this growth has to slow in the future. But we're still not taking into account other advantages to living in Estonia, businessman Indrek Neivelt said in commentary on Vikerraadio on Tuesday.

Toomas Hendrik Ilves: The blue, black and white flag, then and now

04.06.19 ... Today, on June 4, the Estonian flag turns 135 years old. This is a speech that I gave 15 years ago, at a conference held at the EÜS House in Tartu dedicated to the 120th anniversary of the Estonian flag, and unfortunately it is more relevant now than it was then, writes former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Public letter: Elron, imagine the effects of your bike ban

04.06.19 ... Estonian passenger rail operator Elron announced on Monday that it would be banning all bikes from its more popular departures on certain routes on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the summer season. In a public letter penned in response, writer, theater critic and bike rider Andres Keil calls on Elron to consider the effects of its bike ban on regular Estonian residents, as well as consider more viable solutions to the overcrowding issue.

Opinion: The elusive 1 percent

03.06.19 ... News finally began to trickle in about what kind of decisions would shape Estonia's 2020-2023 state budget strategy after the results of the European Parliament elections were in. As it turns out, the future looks bleak, at least when it comes to research funding, writes Lea Larin, research editor for cultural magazine Sirp.

Opinion: On Estonia, the UN, allies and values

03.06.19 ... Less than a week from now, Estonia may end up at the center of world politics and start participating in decision-making that we previously had no business being involved in; it would be sad if our values compass pointed us away from Estonia's democratic allies, writes journalist Toomas Sildam.

Opinion: Transferwise leaving Estonia would be huge loss

31.05.19 ... It would be a very serious loss if Transferwise left Estonia, but it would an even bigger loss if our current actions and lack thereof ended up being the reason why the next startups, the next potential Transferwises, went unestablished here, said Praxis think tank board chairman Tarmo Jüristo in a comment on Vikerraadio.

Opinion: Estonia's border and the price of voters' trust

30.05.19 ... The Estonian government set a price on the trust of its citizens, slapping a price tag on it of less than half a million euros. This is the savings they hope to achieve by not buying land along the border from its owners, but rather using it via easement, said Mirjam Nutov in a comment on Vikerraadio.

Opinion: Alcohol excise cuts won't crack Latvia, will damage Estonia

30.05.19 ... Following its state budget strategy discussions, the coalition government announced Monday a bill, which is already at the Riigikogu, to reduce alcohol excise duties by 25 percent, effective from July 1, should the bill pass. The move reverses several years of excise hikes, under the previous administration. However, the excise shortfall that cutting alcohol excise duties in Estonia would bring can only be made up by increased consumption, both by Estonians and Finns, writes Viktor Trasberg, lecturer in economic theory at the University of Tartu.

Mikk Kasesalk: Is cheap vodka Estonia's engine for development?

28.05.19 ... As unskilled jobs continue to disappear all over the world and the future belongs to jobs requiring intellectual efforts, I cannot understand the government's decision to continue underfunding research and higher education, writes Mikk Kasesalk.

Opinion: Minister refusing to fly in fact refusing to do her job

27.05.19 ... One can only imagine how Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) must have felt when the media wanted to hear from him on Election Day whether Estonia was really going to refuse an invitation to the upcoming G20 IT ministers' meeting in Japan. Ratas decided to go himself on the spot, but he didn't really have a choice, writes ERR's political editor, Toomas Sildam.

Opinion: 12 things we learned from this year's Lennart Meri Conference

20.05.19 ... The 2019 Lennart Meri Conference, organized by the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS), running May 17-19 , was the 16th annual event of its kind, bringing journalists, diplomats, analysts, academics, politicians and other expert speakers to Tallinn. The event was billed as "one past, many futures", suggesting a degree of uncertainty very much present in the Estonia of 2019. Here's a few things I learned from the one conference, many panel discussions.

Opinion Digest: Threats, farce, dangers and solutions

17.05.19 ... Opinion on the current, almost daily "coalition show" in Estonia has continued to stream in lately, with concerns on the country's reputation internationally, possible longer term solutions to the fracas, the underlying roots of a problem almost bound to surface one fine day, and more takes on the nature and status of free speech in journalism, all filtering through to the pages of some of the major publications in Estonia.

Rein Sikk: Give those not chosen for Dance Festival the chance to dance too

16.05.19 ... In commentary on ERR's Vikerraadio earlier this week, journalist Rein Sikk reflected on those who officially did not make the cut to perform in the XX Dance Festival this summer, and whether the road to Estonia's world-famous festival must be lined with tears at all. One solution that could see everyone included was already demonstrated by youth dancers in a public square in 2017.

Raul Rebane: War of symbolic gestures won't blow over on its own

14.05.19 ... In a comment on ERR's Vikerraadio, communications expert Raul Rebane examined the current media picture from a different angle, asserting that an unprecedentedly sharp war of symbolic gestures is currently taking place.

Opinion: Fighting domestic violence in a European context

13.05.19 ... Estonia faces the same challenges in dealing with domestic violence as other European countries, writes Kristian Jaani, head of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA)'s North Prefecture. The country is smart enough to learn from other countries' experiences, but can also pass on its own experience, he writes in an opinion piece on ERR's online Estonian news.

Indrek Neivelt: Seven dogmas Estonia needs to abandon

13.05.19 ... Entrepreneur, former banker, and commentator Indrek Neivelt writes about seven economic-political dogmas that have defined Estonia in the last two decades, and which he thinks the country needs to move on from. The message is simple: we live in a fast-paced world, and the ability to adapt is more important than it has ever been.

Digest: New population minister wants return to family, religious values

13.05.19 ... The Estonian state won't go snooping around people's bedrooms, or telling them how many children to have, or whether to have children at all, Minister of Population Riina Solman (Isamaa) says. But it wants to nudge people towards having more children, by implementing policies that support large families.

Opinion: President had better options open in making position clear

06.05.19 ... President Kersti Kaljulaid might have tried other, more effective, means of communicating her views on the current situation in politics and the media, senior ERR journalists Anvar Samost and Toomas Sildam said on Sunday, adding that events might herald fairly cool relations between Kadriorg and the Stenbock house in the coming future.

Kaupo Meiel: Nothing good left, everything is terrible!

02.05.19 ... How did Estonia become such an awful place so quickly, as though we have swallowed the red pill like in "The Matrix"? Kaupo Meiel reflects in commentary to Vikerraadio.

Opinion: Who and with whom — How Estonia's EU story began

02.05.19 ... Fifteen years in the European Union has passed in a blink of an eye, writes Kaja Tael, Estonia's Permanent Representative to the EU. Upon joining, Estonia tended to look with some awe at Finland and Sweden — the two countries which offered the most help in preparing for membership — as experienced member states. Yet, in 2004 when Estonia joined, those two countries hadn't been in the EU for even a decade at that point (they joined in 1995). By this measure, Estonia is already an old hand, Tael writes.

Opinion digest: Only press alone can regulate the free press

29.04.19 ... Press executives and journalists have no excuse for allowing some kind of roundtable to take charge of the press freedom situation in Estonia — this is and must remain their job, writes political observer Martin Kala in an opinion piece originally published by daily Postimees on Sunday night.

Opinion: Press freedoms in Estonia being rationalized, not attacked

29.04.19 ... So that's it. Press freedoms are under attack in Estonia. With two journalists stepping down in a little over a week, one in the privately-run media, one quitting a show he had hosted for four years at public broadcaster ERR, this is but the opening salvo of a one-way struggle initiated by the incoming coalition government, and one party in particular, and we can look forward to much more of the same in future. Or so the narrative would have it.

Opinion: Linnar Priimägi on the political coming of age of Kersti Kaljulaid

26.04.19 ... Noted writer, critic, artist, poet and cultural commentator Linnar Priimägi has noted, in his Protocol cultural diary on ERR's Estonian online culture portal, the significance of President Kersti Kaljulaid's meeting with Vladimir Putin last week. He also looks at the dangers of over-complicating concepts, in violation of Ockham's razor, and of the need for mediocre literature.

Toomas Sildam: Coalition now fact, is ''100 hate-free days'' achievable?

25.04.19 ... With the signing into being of the new government coalition on Wednesday, ERR's senior political analyst Toomas Sildam appeared on ETV current affairs show Aktuaalne kaamera to take stock.

Opinion Digest: Political values, journalistic freedoms, Russia and Ukraine

23.04.19 ... Opinions on topics ranging from the values in politics and society in Estonia today, to journalistic freedoms, President Kersti Kaljulaid's meeting with President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin last week, and the recent election of a new head of state in Ukraine have abounded in the Estonian media since the week began. We'll take a look at some of these, starting with the week's big event – the Riigikogu centenary.

Laughter through the tears: Remembering Father Vello Salo

22.04.19 ... Father Vello Salo, who died at the weekend at the age of 94, may have been comparatively unusual in being a Roman Catholic Priest from Estonia, who spent many years in exile during the Soviet occupation. However, as fellow priest – albeit from a different denomination – Father Sakarias Leppik explains, Father Salo's spirituality and ''Estonian-ness'' stemmed from roots which went much deeper than simply his nationality.

Jõks: Does the president have the right to judge candidates for minister?

17.04.19 ... In a parliamentary state, the president is not involved in the formation of a government, which is why they generally lack the right to reject a candidate for minister in connection with, for example, political convictions, writes attorney and former Chancellor of Justice Allar Jõks.

Toomas Sildam: New government won't be easy for Ratas either

15.04.19 ... While Kaja Kallas, chairwoman of the Riigikogu election-winning Reform Party, won't receive the support of the Riigikogu for the formation of a government on 15 April, it won't be easy for continuing Prime Minister Jüri Ratas either, who is on shaky ground with several of the candidates for minister in his new government and has the president staring him down no less, writes journalist Toomas Sildam.

Opinion: If ERR goes down, the rest of the free media drowns with it

10.04.19 ... Erkki Bahovski, Editor-in-Chief of Diplomaatia, newsletter of the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS), has argued in an opinion piece on daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) that, while recent attacks on public broadcaster ERR are nothing new, their scope and somewhat brazen nature is a notable development. Nonetheless, there are plenty of lessons to be learned, and the broadcaster can simply dig in and weather the storm, he says.

Digest: Proposed coalition meets with more criticism, and some praise

09.04.19 ... Comment on the proposed coalition government of the Centre Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa has continued, following the signing of the agreement, in front of the media, by the three party leaders on Monday.

Digest: Comment on Centre, EKRE, Isamaa agreement mainly negative

08.04.19 ... Daily Päevaleht summed up the general feeling about the coalition agreement between the Centre Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa: while it remains vague on all the issues that matter, it promotes specific ideas only where its signatories' egos and cranks are concerned and is otherwise entirely devoid of new ideas. Meanwhile a range of policies previously taken for granted, from EU relations to social cohesion and equal treatment, are seen as immediately threatened if this government should be confirmed.

Opinion: Ratas-led talks could see him return as premier even without EKRE

04.04.19 ... As of Thursday, 4 April, coalition discussions between the Centre Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa have gone all the way to the Riigikogu, as, for many people, disbelief transformed into bemused resignation. Is this lineup, then, going to find itself in the Stenbock House, the seat of the government, or is it all part of a strategy on the part of the two biggest parties, Reform and Centre? Whatever the outcome, it's looking like the political coming of age of Jüri Ratas, who has staked his reputation on the talks and seems to be winning.

Opinion: Is ERR truly surrounded and facing censorship?

03.04.19 ... Taxpayer-funded media is easiest to pressure by claiming that in a democratic state, the public broadcaster must be under the control of the representatives of the people, writes former Chancellor of Justice Allar Jõks.

Rein Raud: Isamaa, Centre faced with classic prisoner's dilemma

01.04.19 ... It seems to me as though, taking things rationally, the prisoner's dilemma facing both the Centre Party and Isamaa has gone so far that, contrary to the beliefs of some analysts, it would be rational to instead start taking bets on which of the two parties will back out of the current coalition talks first in order to stave off the birth of the most unpopular and incompetent government in the history of the reindependent Estonia, writes Rein Raud.

Opinion: How to really plan for, and go about, pension reform

28.03.19 ... Pension reform is one of the topics on the table with coalition discussions of any hue. The system as it exists is set up in three stages, called ''pillars''. The first pillar is the state pay-as-you-go contributory pension, the second is the mandatory funded pension with personal pension accounts, and the third is an additional, voluntary pension a person might make via private schemes.

Opinion: Will the current coalition talks reach their limit?

26.03.19 ... As we enter the third week of the coalition talks, ERR's senior political editor, Toomas Sildam, takes stock of what has transpired so far, whether and how the discussions have a time limit, and how potential cracks in the EKRE-KEI proposed coalition could show up right from the get-go.

Opinion: Kõigi Eesti – the ice bucket challenge of our times?

25.03.19 ... Some years ago, a social media global viral campaign appeared, known as the ice bucket challenge. This involved people being filmed getting deluged, or deluging themselves, in quantities of icey water, accompanied by groans, shrieks and expletives. With the snowballing of the Kõigi Eesti movement, running at around 27,000 fans at the time of writing, are we seeing Estonia's ice bucket challenge moment?

Continuing din surrounding EKRE not bringing any real change

22.03.19 ... In the latest approval ratings commissioned by ERR, the Reform Party leads with 27%, followed by the Centre Party 3 percentage points behind at 24%. This means that in real terms, the outcry the inclusion of EKRE in the current preliminary coalition talks has caused has barely made a dent. Compared to March 2018 polling data, the change is minimal — and there are other signs that indeed very little has changed or is changing in Estonian politics.

Toomas Hendrik Ilves on the Estonia we want and ask others to defend

19.03.19 ... How can we defend Estonia without becoming self-absorbed and without pushing aside those who are different? In a situation where others protect Estonia, and thus treat us as their own, we have to ask ourselves who our own are, the ones that we protect, writes former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Opinion digest: Helme not just useful idiot, but pathological liar too

15.03.19 ... In an opinion piece published by daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) last summer, politician Margus Tsahkna called Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) chairman Mart Helme a "useful idiot" for Russia. Mart Laar, Estonia's popular two-time prime minister from the 90s, affirmed in a followup piece first published likewise last summer that not only is Mr Helme a useful idiot, but a pathological liar to boot.

Opinion: Estonia not about to join Poland, Hungary

14.03.19 ... Don't cry, it's only politics: this week's bedlam surrounding the supposed right-wing takeover of Estonia is proving to be so much hot air. What is happening, contrary to the impression created by an army of social media armchair warriors, is nothing much more than run-of-the-mill post-election politics.

Centre-EKRE talks: Ligi characteristically terse, Kaljulaid Shakespearean

14.03.19 ... The ongoing coalition talks between the Centre Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa, have drawn plenty of relevant comment from those with skin in the game. Big hitters from both Centre and Reform, the party which won the most seats at the election on 3 March but which currently finds itself in the cold, had their views set out in daily Postimees.
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