14.02.19 ... The situation in Ida-Viru County's towns and cities would have long since been in better shape were it not hobbled by municipal politics dedicated not to the development of these towns, but to the maintaining of an iron grip on power by local clans, says Erik Gamzejev, editor-in-chief of regional paper Põhjarannik, in commentary provided to Vikerraadio.
13.02.19 ... It turns out that it was all made up. The two Estonian men attacking a foreign woman in Tallinn, throwing rocks at her and her dog, shouting "Go home, foreigner", in English. Founder and CEO of Jobbatical Karoli Hindriks, once she heard the story from someone she refers to as a friend, took the chance to write a lengthy post reporting the case and addressing how "Estonia has become angry", an unfriendly place towards foreigners who come here to work, contribute to our economy, and pay taxes.
12.02.19 ... Should people who have previously been punished for minor criminal offences be barred from joining political parties in Estonia? Journalist Toomas Sildam doesn't think so.
09.02.19 ... This week saw two political debates in English between representatives of all the major political parties, and most of the minor ones. This might set a good precedent for Estonia and provide an example to other European nations, and seems to have gone down well with viewers in the audience and online. There are some caveats and limitations too, however.
30.01.19 ... So the brakes are well and truly off Brexit juggernaut as it continues its unopposed trundle down the slope to god knows. The speed humps of the much raked-over up Irish backstop won't stop it, and nor will anything else at this late stage. All we can hope is there isn't a primary school at the bottom of the hill for it to go crashing into, which there won't be, of course.
30.01.19 ... Without taking anything away from the role of the President of Estonia and her team, the annual list of recipients of the highest awards Estonia can bestow, tends to resemble those who are giving out the award; however, this means we can all have an influence on future lists, writes ERR's Toomas Sildam.
28.01.19 ... At the beginning of January, I compiled an annual overview for the Estonian LGBT+ Association, on issues that people came to me for through the course of 2018. The picture was shocking, writes the LGBT+ advocacy group's expert and lawyer, Aili Kala.
24.01.19 ... The citizenship issue isn't worth getting bogged down in when there is a more important issue to be addressed in connection with integration in Estonian society, writes Sergei Metlev of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory in an opinion piece published by daily Postimees.
23.01.19 ... Work in the XIII Riigikogu has been frustrating and almost entirely fruitless, and appears to have been rather an ineffectual waste of time, writes veteran politician Jüri Adams.
22.01.19 ... Deliberately lying to the public and posing under a fake name taught young nationalists a lesson — that playing with lies limits their own freedom of speech and sends voters a message that they are liars and violent, found Marju Himma.
22.01.19 ... A Reform Party and Centre Party coalition would be the most sensible option to arise from the March general election, and in fact should have been done following the previous election in 2015, says former Reform member Neinar Seli.
18.01.19 ... The recent opening of the very admirable and very well-meaning Estonian Language House in Tallinn is another step in the phasing in of a much more proactive approach to Estonian and getting foreigners to speak it properly. But is the trend wholly helpful and will it bring results? After all, as people sometimes like to say, ''there have been people living here for 50 years who can't speak a word of Estonian''. If that is so, why will it be different this time?
15.01.19 ... The European Union (EU) faces a complicated year, writes Taavi Toom of Estonia 200, much harder than the previous year. In addition to the European Parliamentary elections in May, which will put the future of European cooperation to the test, elections of the heads of no less than five major EU institutions, plus the presidents of six Member States, as well as seven parliamentary elections, including Estonia's in March, are also likely to influence the direction and atmosphere of future cooperation.
10.01.19 ... This week's headlines have been dominated by a poster campaign supposed to highlight the ongoing divided society existing in Estonia, ie the split between Estonians and the Russian-speaking minority. This has been something of a storm in an eggcup, however, and won't make much of an impact on polling day in March, assuming that was even its intention.
28.12.18 ... Many Estonians' most civilly active years date back to the era of the restoration of Estonian independence around 1991. Many, however, seemed to relive these glory days in 2018, political scientist Mari-Liis Jakobson found in an opinion piece reflecting on politics over the past year.
27.12.18 ... A joint state upper secondary school for Estonian and Russian children will not lead to the end of Estonianness, at least not if changes in education have been discussed with the community and the preservation and development of the Estonian language ensured. Currently, however, both the city government and the state have some unfinished work left, found Minister of the Interior Katri Raik (SDE).
24.12.18 ... Commenting on the Supreme Court's decision to end the criminal proceedings against former long-time Centre Party chairman Edgar Savisaar, ERR's Toomas Sildam writes that justice in Estonia isn't in the hands of a few select officials, as some suggest, but dispensed by the courts.
24.12.18 ... An Estonian translation of the Italian book "Vaccines: Yes or No?" was published in mid-December. The book includes a slew of claims considered questionable by scientists, which is why it attracted a lot of complaints and retail bookstore chain Rahva Raamat pulled the Estonian-language translation of the book from its shelves. Those involved in the publishing of the book and their supporters, however, have clearly expressed their outrage, and are continuing to sell the book elsewhere, including at Apollo bookstores and online.
18.12.18 ... Political parties' candidate lists for the 2019 Riigikogu elections have been locked down for the most part. Uku Toom of ERR's radio news takes a look at how much parties' top picks have changed since the previous elections four years ago.
17.12.18 ... Pro Patria's opposition to the UN Global Compact for Migration will not prevent Estonia from joining it, leaving the party as a member of the ruling coalition with a choice — to either swallow the loss, or issue a no-confidence motion against Social Democratic Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser and resign from the government, writes journalist Toomas Sildam.
04.12.18 ... While everybody's attention is focused on the recent military attack on Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait, important strategic interventions are happening elsewhere. Russia is firmly expanding its influence in the Western Hemisphere by leading a hybrid war that the West is failing to counter.
29.11.18 ... If the recent governmental crisis has revealed anything, it is this: The government is not in crisis at all, but rather actually somewhat in control of the situation. Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) emerged no worse for the episode, maintaining a detachment that wrong-footed more than a few people who interpreted it as indecisiveness or even the dreaded "weakness," whatever that means.
28.11.18 ... Refugees and, politely speaking, "family values" are issues that can win votes in Narva, but in order to do so, Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) chairman Mart Helme would have to visit Narva himself, as he is likely the only national conservative who knows how to speak to the Russians, Jüri Nikolajev said in a comment on ERR's radio news.
27.11.18 ... In an opinion piece published in daily Postimees, Kalev Stoicescu, research fellow at the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS), recalled a televised event where Russian President Vladimir Putin said that "Russia's border doesn't end anywhere." He made clear that this was a joke, but recent events in the Kerch Strait have once again demonstrated that in reality, he wasn't joking at all.
26.11.18 ... Speaking on the Vikerraadio broadcast "Samost and Sildam," journalists Anvar Samost and Toomas Sildam said that when it comes to the Riigikogu discussion regarding the UN Global Compact on Migration scheduled to begin at 10:00 EET on Monday, the positions of the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and coalition Pro Patria (Isamaa) are easiest to predict. The opposition Reform, however, is currently harder to pin down.
25.11.18 ... Pushing the government to the brink of collapse, Pro Patria is hoping to position itself more to the political right to regain votes it has lost to EKRE over the past few years. This not only puts Estonia's successful foreign policy of the last 25 years at risk, but will likely cost the country the non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for which it has been campaigning.
25.11.18 ... The leading opposition party is going through a crisis of its own. Incapable of using the current government deadlock to its advantage, there are more and more signs that the showdown before the 3 March general election will see Reform return to an all too familiar theme: the Centre Party's perceived proximity to Vladimir Putin's Russia.
12.11.18 ... The design of Enterprise Estonia's national branding toolbox won in the "Best Use of Design" category at the 2018 City Nation Place Awards in London last Thursday. One can't help but think that more might have been possible: Peter Kentie, whose EST concept Enterprise Estonia initially rejected and later on casually buried in its own material, won "Place Brand of the Year" with his work for Eindhoven, taking home the competition's main award.
12.11.18 ... Politics can get drab, even depressing. So you would think that new drive and new faces are always welcome. But when Olympic champions and famous actors sign up and get catapulted to the top of parties' lists, it gets hard to ignore the political opportunism, ERR's Toomas Sildam writes.
06.11.18 ... The effects of making participation in the currently mandatory second pension pillar voluntary would be much greater than they would initially appear, writes entrepreneur Indrek Neivelt.
05.11.18 ... Last Wednesday, Theatre NO99 announced that it would be closing its doors. It was unexpected news for everyone: the media, the Ministry of Culture and theatre fans alike. Quickly overshadowed as a result was the event of the day at another one of Estonia's most important avant-garde theatres: the 25th anniversary of Von Krahl Theatre, writes Valner Valme, managing editor of ERR's online culture portal.
04.11.18 ... Back in 1978, a Scottish banker was walking the streets of London when he noticed an unusual blue, black and white flag fluttering in the wind. James Oates had a deep interest in vexillology, the study of flags, yet he'd never seen this one before so he knocked on the door of the building to find out more. Fate had brought him to 167 Queen's Gate, which was home to the Estonian Legation - a de facto Embassy for an almost forgotten Republic called Estonia.
30.10.18 ... The perennial Estonian citizenship conundrum maintains its stubbornness, not to mention complexity, this time hitching on the back of the Rutto case.
26.10.18 ... In response to comments written by Luukas Kristjan Ilves on his social media account this week on the subject of dual citizenship in Estonia, British-born journalist and politician Abdul Turay explained that his wife and son are Estonian citizens and, if Estonia were to allow dual citizenship, he would happily apply to become a citizen as well.
25.10.18 ... Reflecting on what it means to be a citizen based on his own personal experiences, Luukas Kristjan Ilves, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow at Brussels-based think tank and policy network the Lisbon Council, and son of former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, finds that Estonia has more to gain than lose in allowing dual citizenship, as noted on his social media page.
23.10.18 ... In an opinion piece published in daily Postimees, MEP Urmas Paet (Reform/ALDE), reflects on the effects on international relations of the 2 October murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
22.10.18 ... Bureaucracy moving online does allow state agencies to do their jobs more simply and quickly. Public administration, however, should not be organised in such a way that it is better for the state, but more convenient for the people, public administration expert Külli Taro says in a comment to Vikerraadio.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.