Opinion

Opinion: Russian hybrid war has already reached peak in Estonia

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.

Jüri Nikolajev: EKRE handed opportunity to woo Russian voters

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.

Opinion digest: Russia wants war with Ukraine, says Stoicescu

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.

Samost, Sildam predict parliamentary groups' stances on UN migration pact

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.

Analysis: Government crisis a result of Pro Patria campaign tactics

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.

Back to basics: Lack of ideas sees Reform Party default to 'Russia card'

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.

Estonia scores design award, Kentie wins main prize with Eindhoven brand

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.

Celebrity candidates: Headed for political fame—or notoriety

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.

Neivelt: Voluntary pension pillar would decrease society's stress levels

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.

Valner Valme: NO99 stole Von Krahl's show

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.

Adam Rang: Dual citizens already part of Estonian story

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.

Opinion digest: The Rutto case and 'dual citizenship'

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.

Abdul Turay: My son is Estonian, I would like to be too

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.

Luukas Kristjan Ilves on dual citizenship: Who is more Estonian?

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.

Opinion digest: Who profits from Khashoggi's murder?

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.

Külli Taro: Should public administration be convenient only for the state?

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.

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.

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