Opinion

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.

Opinion digest: Tear down Maarjamäe Soviet memorial, or keep it?

09.01.18 ... The construction of a new memorial for the victims of communism has begun in Tallinn's Maarjamäe area. The prominent Soviet World War II memorial close by with its obelisk and ceremonial tribune meanwhile is crumbling. Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu has suggested that part of it may be torn down, a statement that has already provoked criticism.

Opinion digest: Three key moments in Estonian politics in 2017

01.01.18 ... In a comment for daily Postimees, political analyst Ahto Lobjakas identifies three key moments in Estonian politics last year that will affect the country for a good while to come: the Center Party's balancing the political system, the rehabilitation of the Russian-speaking voter, and the government's kicking-off a serious tax debate.

Darja Saar: ETV+ not a propaganda channel competing with Putin

29.12.17 ... According to Darja Saar, editor-in-chief of ETV+, Estonian Public Broadcasting's Russian-language TV channel isn't meant to shape anyone, but rather produce quality content serving Estonia's Russian- and Estonian-speakers alike.

MP welcomes apparent end of 'Ilves-esque' political correctness

21.12.17 ... According to Igor Gräzin, who is a member of the Riigikogu for the Reform Party, there is nothing wrong at all with Estonia's political debate culture. If things had taken a "pithier" tone recently, thin-skinned reactions mainly came from a new generation no longer used to calling a spade a spade, Gräzin suggested.

Opinion digest: One year in, President Kaljulaid anything but toothless

20.12.17 ... While the Constitution would allow for a relatively bland character to hold the office, Kaljulaid shows all the signs of intending to follow in Lennart Meri and Toomas Hendrik Ilves' footsteps and develop a distinct agenda and profile of her own.

Ambassador: Successes tend to get ignored in Estonian-Russian relations

19.12.17 ... While there is no progress to report and relations between Estonia and Russia remain cold, the farther away from Moscow you are, the friendlier Russians' attitudes toward Estonia get, Arti Hilpus, Estonian ambassador to Russia, told ERR's Välisilm foreign news magazine.

Opinion digest: Reform Party cornered, Kaja Kallas best way out

14.12.17 ... Reactions to Reform Party chairman Hanno Pevkur's decision to back Kaja Kallas in the next internal elections in the party have been mixed, though there is one thing everybody seems to agree on: she has been far enough away from Estonian politics for a long enough time to make her a choice a lot of people can live with.

Opinion digest: Why Reform needs to elect Kaja Kallas chairwoman

13.12.17 ... Reform Party member and former MP Jaanus Rahumägi wrote in a piece for weekly Eesti Ekspress published on Wednesday that he sees backing Kaja Kallas as the party's first chairwoman as the only way to get the party out of its current infighting, and that Pevkur's chairmanship has been under attack from the moment he was elected.

Opinion digest: Finland's great century

06.12.17 ... Erkki Bahovski, editor of Estonian foreign policy magazine Diplomaatia, wrote in an opinion piece in Postimees on Wednesday that Finland's success remaining independent gives all small states a reason to hope that they'll prevail in the 21st century as well.

Ilves' 'Nazi' ID card rep may well be right — at least about local summers

24.11.17 ... Former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves made it clear yesterday that in his opinion, Andreas Lehmann, CEO of Trüb Baltic and local representative of ID card producer Gemalto, is a Nazi. And that in Lehmann's eyes, the Estonians are what President Ilves has called Ost-Untermenschen — "inferior beings." The businessman brought the wrath of the ex president unto himself by pointing to the somewhat slow pace of life during the Estonian summer.

Analysis: What is IRL's plan, if they have one at all?

20.11.17 ... Jüri Ratas's government will remember last week for a long time to come as the week the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) charged on two fronts. They began with an attack against the increased alcohol excise duty, and now they're going after the Center Party's all-Estonian free public bus lines as well.

Savisaar's demise and the rise of Jüri Ratas

07.11.17 ... Jüri Ratas became Prime Minister of Estonia on Nov. 23 last year. This would not have been possible without his becoming chairman of the Center Party on Nov. 5, an event that shook Estonian politics to its core and finally changed the status quo that had held the Reform Party in power for 17 years.

Ilves: Break-up of Western states dangerous and in Russia's interest

30.10.17 ... In an interview with Spanish daily El País, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves talked about how Russia's continued attempts to disrupt democratic processes fit in with the current situation in Catalonia.

Kõlvart’s rise to Center Party stardom may change Estonian politics

18.10.17 ... With former Center Party chairman Edgar Savisaar being pushed out of Estonian politics, and deputy mayor Mihhail Kõlvart getting more than 24,000 personal votes in the 2017 elections, a group is finally getting more attention again that was ignored by all but one party for more than ten years: the Russian speaking voters.

Analysis: Ratas holding keys to Center Party, Savisaar history

16.10.17 ... Former long-time Center Party chairman and mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar is now history and has freed the party from the pressure of his political past, finds ERR political editor Toomas Sildam.

Papers: Resignation Rõivas’s “first reasonable step”

13.10.17 ... Dailies Postimees, Eesti Päevaleht and Õhtuleht agreed in their Friday editorials that exposing former prime minister Taavi Rõivas’ conduct at a party in Kuala Lumpur was the right thing to do, and that his only option is to resign.

Lying their way to power: Parties' absurd promises and their consequences

06.10.17 ... Just like the Consumer Protection Board can't help you get your money back from a huckster who sold you magical glass beads, railing against politicians now that got your vote in the last elections is pointless, writes Erik Gamzejev, editor-in-chief of Ida-Viru daily Põhjarannik. The only way to get it right is to actually look at the background of the candidates whose leaflets you find in your letterbox.

Estonia's women should have stopped working on Monday, says Ester Eomois

27.09.17 ... On average, women in Estonia earn just 73 percent of what men make working in the same position. That’s why on Monday this week, Estonia’s women would have had to stop working, as the time they're paid for this year is up, writes Ester Eomois, president of the Estonian Association of Business and Professional Women and member of the BPW Estonia Entrepreneurship Club.

Rene Kundla: Parties making themselves appear bigger than they are

26.09.17 ... In the early stages of their election campaigns, the parties proudly listed in how many municipalities their candidates were running for office. In reality, they made themselves look bigger than they are, as on some of their lists only a very small number of people is standing for election — or, as in some cases, just one, ERR's Rene Kundla writes.

Loophole in Estonia's election law: Live in one place, run in another

12.09.17 ... The political parties are using their more famous members on local election lists to get more votes, distributing them across districts—a practice that sometimes leads to the strangest situations, writes Rene Kundla, ERR's correspondent in Lääne and Ida-Viru County.

Opinion digest: Germany should take initiative against Russian meddling

04.09.17 ... It was now up to Germany and Angela Merkel to decide if Russian president Vladimir Putin would be challenged "in a serious enough way" to make him stop disrupting Western democracy, Ilves wrote in a contribution to the Financial Times published on Sept. 3.

Jaak Aaviksoo: Our and research's common concerns

31.08.17 ... The opinions of researchers on the state and future of research in Estonia are contradictory — on one hand, significant progress has been recognized on the level of research and international competitiveness, while on the other, underfunding and too great a focus on projects are cause for complaint.

Samost: Adage that businessmen can't cope in politics proven once again

28.08.17 ... Last week, Active Tallinn ("Tegus Tallinn"), the election coalition led by businessmen Urmas Sõõrumaa and Jüri Mõis, decided to join forces with that of former Center Party chairman and suspended Tallinn mayor Edgar Savisaar. According to journalist Anvar Samost, this just confirmed the old adage that businessmen can't cope in the world of politics.

Opinion digest: Rain Lõhmus on e-residency and cryptocurrencies

24.08.17 ... The e-residency program is 'absurd' and crypto-currencies and blockchain are a disappointment for classical banking. But there are still a lot of interesting things going on, banker and entrepreneur Rain Lõhmus told technology portal Geenius.ee in a recent interview.

Opinion digest: I’m not Charlie Hebdo

21.08.17 ... Chairman of national-conservative EKRE, Mart Helme, thinks an end should be put to the “leftist-liberal globalization experiment”. While the politically correct mainstream refused to acknowledge it, the connection of terrorism with immigration and Islam was real, and the choice between a pro or anti-immigration course of existential importance.

Journalists: Reform Party stoked up criticism of EVR Cargo's Russian plans

24.07.17 ... In their political talk show on ERR's Vikerraadio, journalists Ainar Ruussaar and Anvar Samost found that the criticism of EVR Cargo's plan to enter the Russian rolling stock leasing business had been stirred up by the Reform Party, and that it was baseless.

Estonian ambassador: Trump right calling on Europe to pay for its defense

21.07.17 ... Estonia’s ambassador to Poland, Harri Tiido, said in an interview with Euractiv.pl on Thursday that he agreed with U.S. president Donald Trump—Europe indeed needed to spend more on its defense.

Opinion digest: The beginning of the end for the Baltic states

18.07.17 ... In the eyes of the Russian media, the Baltic states are no longer just vassals in the service of NATO and the Americans, but failed states that are wasting away, barely held together by massive financial injections from the EU, and headed for crisis and collapse — all of three years from now.

Opinion digest: Security Council seat could put Estonia in tricky situation

17.07.17 ... Speaking about Estonia's recently launched bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2020-2021 on Vikerraadio's Sunday broadcast of "Samost and Ruussaar," hosts Anvar Samost and Ainar Ruussaar found themselves at odds over the practicality of this goal.

Opinion digest: Party politics increasingly unpopular at local level

14.07.17 ... In an opinion piece for daily Postimees, Viljandi mayor Ando Kiviberg (IRL) explained why he believes in local election coalitions rather than in party lists.

Opinion digest: That ‘rubbish’ made up by urban activists

07.07.17 ... Ethnologist Aimar Ventsel spent years with indigenous peoples in Russia and has a very clear opinion of all those who label Estonians as “some sort of boreal forest folk”.

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