Opinion

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.

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.

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