Go to Glance at the Mirror 2010 front page
Estonia as reflected by foreign media



Estonia – a member of the rich man’s club

Shortly before entering the euro zone, Estonia joins the rich man’s club. The Prime Minister Andrus Ansip commented in the OECD welcoming ceremony in Paris that the concurrent timing of euro and OECD membership is coincidental. For the PM, it is about being involved in important debates and decision-making processes along with the big nations. Ms Kairi Saar from the Foreign Ministry explains that due to its small size, Estonia is unable to carry out comparative studies and analysis. Participation in the OECD Committees provides contacts with foreign experts and the means for learning from one another. Estonia on its part can give advice on the ICT field and on boosting business life. (Les Echos)

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development welcomes three new members: Estonia, Slovenia and Israel. “All three countries have been open to the OECD recommendations on core issues and the membership talks have been constructive and open,” declared the OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. The invitation to join acknowledges the efforts already made to reform the economies, while looking forward to encourage them further. The reforms include endeavours such as combating corruption and protecting intellectual property rights. (Die Presse, 11.05)

  • Joining the OECD is an honour to Estonia. On the photo are Estonian ambassador to the OECD Marten Kokk and Secretary-General of the OECD Angel Gurria
  • Joining the OECD is an honour to Estonia. On the photo are Estonian ambassador to the OECD Marten Kokk and Secretary-General of the OECD Angel Gurria

Israel, Slovenia and Estonia received a formal invitation to join the OECD in the ceremony held in Paris. We are honoured to welcome new nations as our partners and colleagues, said the head of the organisation bringing together the wealthiest countries of the world. The French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner assured that “the accession of new members is a great honour for France as the host country of the OECD”. (Le Figaro, AFP, 27.05)

Estonia was formally welcomed into the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD. Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip met with the OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in a welcoming ceremony held in Paris. This year is very important for Estonia, Prime Minister Ansip said in his thank-you speech. “For a long time, Estonia has had two important policy goals: joining the OECD and becoming a part of the euro area. Today, we can say that the first goal has been achieved, and the second one is within our reach.” (Hurriyet Daily News, 31.05)

On Thursday Estonia signed an accession treaty with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to become the first former Soviet republic to join. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said the organization’s members can learn from Estonia’s recent experiences in how to recover from economic recession and praised Estonia’s open and transparent economy. Joining the OECD means that our development is valued and our practices are good enough to be shared with the other OECD members, said Prime Minister Andrus Ansip. (Bloomberg Businessweek, 03.06)

Last Thursday the Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development José Ángel Gurría and the Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip signed the agreement of Estonia’s accession to the organisation. Estonia will acquire full membership in the OECD at the end of this year when the agreement is ratified by the Estonian Parliament – the Riigikogu. (Известия, 03.06)

Estonia becomes the 34th member of the OECD on December 9, being the first Baltic nation and former Soviet republic to be granted the OECD membership. (Российский налоговый портал, 13.12)

The aftermath of the recession

A report compiled by Cheapflights.co.uk on the ten hardest hit economies shows that flight searches to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are up by 60%. The list aims at highlighting destinations that are most in need of tourists to improve its economic situation. The World Bank reported that the three Baltic countries had the steepest declines of all developing regions. However, it has not been all doom and gloom – tighter budgets and recession have made the Baltic countries more favourable in the eyes of tourists. (The Times, 25.01)

A year ago the Baltic States faced fiscal worries similar to those Greece is confronted with today. They bit the bullet and now see light on the horizon: Standard & Poor’s has lifted its rating outlook on all three, citing the successes achieved in fiscal consolidation. None of the three has taken the option of devaluation and Estonia is on track to join the euro, Lithuania successfully sold an international bond and Latvia may return to growth after an economic contraction. True, Estonia had a fiscal reserve, Latvia required support from the IMF, but Lithuania, despite a currency-board arrangement and faced with a ballooning budget deficit as tax revenues sank, managed to convince the market of its fiscal credibility without an IMF program. (Wall Street Journal, 15.02)

Estonia’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Mr Jaan Hein says that unlike other nations, Estonia was able to do without foreign aid and instead resorted to the stabilization fund during the economic contraction. Now, as the world is presumably about to exit from the crisis, this fund still amounts to a quarter of Estonia’s state budget. The nation’s ability to budget reassures international financial institutions – Estonia can be financed, they don’t squander. The crisis has had a positive effect on the economy – the tiny nation is now able to curb inflation. The Ambassador added that more than 300 Estonian capital-based companies have been established in Ukraine. Estonians also help the Scandinavian companies to enter the Ukrainian market. (Экономические известия, 02.04)

Estonia plans to continue attracting companies with one of the most competitive corporate income tax regimes in Europe. There is no corporate income tax on profits reinvested in Estonia. The Prime Minister Andrus Ansip affirms that in general there is a strong political will to encourage new investments. A Finnish businessman can start a company in Estonia without ever visiting the country – a computer for attaching a digital signature is all he needs. Estonia has also made its labour market more flexible during the recession. According to Mr Ansip, the economy’s stability is sustainable. (Kauppalehti, 12.04)

Estonian economy is in stagnation, the Government continues to seek ways to avoid default. The construction sector is in a dead end. In Q1 2010 the total volume of construction in Estonia decreased by a third year on year, reports the Estonian Statistical Office. Thus far the construction market fall was driven by the shrinking volumes of building construction, but the harsh weather conditions early this year pushed the segment of infrastructure to fall nearly 40%, too. (Ukranian Globalist, 29.05)

Estonia may be in debt, but it has the third-lowest budget deficit in Europe and, as the country’s Prime Minister explains, its policies of prudence and restraint are putting it in a strong position for its entry to the euro zone. But not all is as pleasant as the ambience in Estonia’s quaintly charming capital. Unemployment shot up nearly 20% after a bursting of the housing boom and collapse of the construction sector. Nonetheless, many of heads of states elsewhere in Europe would trade their economic problems for Estonia’s. It is a source of frustration for Estonia that its budget is no longer in surplus. The Estonian budget deficit is estimated to be 2.4% for this year, and a less than one-sixth of that of some of the more profligate euro countries. “We have a target of returning to surplus by 2013,” said the Prime Minister Andrus Ansip. (The Banker, 28.07)

Last year the economists, most notably Paul Krugman, thought that the Baltic States would descend into an accelerating spiral of disaster if they stuck to their policy of a fixed exchange rate with the euro. Or maybe not. And, stubbornly failing to comply with the “third generation models”, the country is already seeing a resumption of growth and a fall in its real cost of capital. Pay cuts were a bitter pill to swallow, but they are already paying off – sooner than expected. The Estonians are in a better position for a relatively rapid recovery because they started out with much less state and private debt than the others, and have been able to muster more political will to pay the social costs. (Financial Times, 01.08)

Finnish individuals as well as investment companies have returned to the Tallinn property market. The return of Finnish investors and Estonia joining the euro zone clearly indicate that the economy is picking up. (Aamulehti, 01.08)

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and EU Economy Commissioner Olli Rehn said they were “very impressed” by Estonia’s fiscal performance. Estonia has the lowest level of debt among all euro area members. According to Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi, Rehn told that Estonia should “export its fiscal policy”. The Estonian experience may encourage some countries to tackle the pressing need for adjustment that they currently face, Trichet told in Tallinn at a conference to mark Estonia’s euro accession. (The Washington Post, 20.09)

The euro zone member-to-be, Estonia, supports the German Chancellor’s idea of creating a euro stability package. The Estonian Prime Minister is in favour of revising the Lisbon Treaty to establish a euro protection mechanism. His views can, by and large, be extended to the other Eastern European countries as Slovakia and Slovenia share the same opinion. The German Chancellor Merkel presented her case on revising the European Union Treaties on Friday in Brussels at the EU summit and was seeking support. Prime Minister Ansip openly expressed his support to Merkel and revealed he considers her to be the best leader in the EU. Mr Ansip also finds that stricter sanctions and coordination should be imposed for better protection of the single currency. (Financial Times Deutschland, 01.11)

All three Baltic economies have returned to growth after the deepest recessions in the European Union last year, offering hope to other crisis-hit countries. Estonia’s economy expanded by 4.7% in the third quarter, marking its fastest annual growth for nearly three years. Latvia’s economy grew by 2.7% in the same period while Lithuania had a 0.6% increase. The rebound has been driven by rising demand for the Baltic countries’ exports – particularly from Germany and Sweden. During the crisis, the Baltic Countries made severe cutbacks in spending and now rightly serve as models for the European countries still facing the issue. The recession has hit the bottom in the Baltics. Yet, the region is unable to increase exports enough to use it as the main driver for their economies over the coming years. (Financial Times, 11.11)

The Economist gave Estonia the Golden Swot award as country of the year. Estonia is one of only two countries that actually meet the single currency debt and deficit rules. The other is Liechtenstein. But if you add the willingness to meet NATO’s target for defence spending of 2% of GDP, Estonia beats Luxembourg by 1.2%. Considering Estonia’s history, it’s a triumph. (The Economist, 16.12)

Exposed at the EXPO

  • The pig that represented Estonia at the Shanghai EXPO arrived at its final home at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • The pig that represented Estonia at the Shanghai EXPO arrived at its final home at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    Photo: Delfi (Ilmar Saabas)

Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said recently that Shanghai Expo had achieved many successes, which brought benefit to not only China but also the whole world. I believe, Shanghai Expo will go down in history like other former Expos, Paet said, adding that the participation in such event granted Estonia the opportunity to show itself to China and the world. He thought that the development of Estonia just conformed to the theme of Shanghai Expo “Better City, Better Life,” as the application of new technologies has renovated and simplified the city life in his country. The number of visitors to the Estonian Pavilion reached over 2 million. On the issues of the Chinese-Estonian cooperation, Paet mentioned the rapid development of Tallinn’s airport and that the Estonian Government is seeking a long-term strategic partner for the Estonian airlines. (China.org.cn, 30.10)

Estonia – a transit hub

NATO shipments to Afghanistan stimulate Estonia’s transit. It contributed to the Estonian Railway’s improved container traffic indicators in 2009. In the near term up to 200 containers a week are expected to pass through Estonia. According to the local experts’ estimations, other transit through Estonia should exhibit growth already in the second half of this year. (Гудок, 4.02)

A tanker carrying an 80,000-ton shipment of Venezuelan crude oil for Belarus is expected to arrive at the Estonian seaport of Muuga on July 23. The shipment will then be delivered to the Naftan oil refinery in Navapolatsk by rail. According to the press office of Belarusian Railroads, the route from Estonia is shorter than that from Ukraine, as it is 850 kilometres from Muuga to Navapolatsk compared with 1,051 kilometres from Odessa to Mazyr. It is yet unknown whether Venezuelan oil will continue to be delivered via Estonia. The Belarusian Government is also considering the possibility of oil deliveries via Latvia and Lithuania. (Belarus News, 22.07)

For the first time oil transit from Venezuela passed through Estonia – to the Muuga port and on to Belarus by train. The route through Estonia is 650 km – 200 km’s shorter than through Ukraine. Within two weeks 80,000 tons of oil arrives in Belarus via Estonian ports. (Столичное телевидение (Valgevene), 31.07)

Estonian entrepreneurs in the spotlight

The European Football 2012 Championships are held in Donetsk, Ukraine. The stadium is ready but roads and hotels are still not there. Estonian entrepreneurs lend a hand to the local authorities. At a meeting in the Donetsk Chamber of Commerce & Industry they spoke about their potential and the willingness to work in Ukraine. Estonians propose a new approach in building supermarkets and hotels. First, everything is prepared digitally, so that investors can evaluate their future costs. Estonians plan to develop tourism in the Crimean and Carpathians region as well as energy sector in Donbas. They have also offered cooperation in rail transport, furniture and food industry. Estonians have invested €700 million into Ukraine already. Jaan Hein calmed the sceptics by saying that such projects are mutually beneficial in real terms, the experiences and bilateral relations so far testify to this effect. A lot is expected from partnering with Estonians in Donetsk. The Estonian-Ukrainian economic forums have been held in other Ukrainian cities, too. (Telekanal Юнион, 25.03)

The little star of Estonian finance, Bigbank, outshines its Finnish counterparts by offering a higher, 3% interest on deposits. Amazingly, Bigbank was able to end its previous year with a profit of €7 million while the Swedish banks ruling the Estonian market – Swedbank and SEB – reported huge losses. Bigbank has acquired 250 depositors and deposits worth €5 million in Finland since it entered the market last November. The bank uses the earnings from the deposits to finance consumer credit. Not only do the deposits come with high interest rates, but also the loans. (Helsingin Sanomat, 31.03)

  • Estonia piano is one of the most well-known Estonian export articles
  • Estonia piano is one of the most well-known Estonian export articles
    Photo: Delfi Pressifoto (Kristjan Randalu)

Estonia’s most well known export article – Estonia piano – is made in a factory in Kalamaja district in Tallinn. “It’s unusual that a grand piano represents a country by its name. Both the country and the Estonia grand piano have transformed since the instrument was first designed,” says the owner of the factory, pianist Indrek Laul. Estonia grand pianos are hand made. About 40 people, trained by their predecessors, work in the Kalamaja factory. It is said that Estonia pianos sound soft, even romantic. The history of Estonia grand pianos began in the 19th century. The biggest market for these pianos is North America – more than 90% of Tallinn-made pianos go to the US or Canada. Indrek Laul maintains he personally knows most of the Estonia owners. (Kaleva, 19.04)

EMT is the largest and most experienced mobile communications operator in Estonia. Its market share is 47 %, if you count the number of SIM cards, but it is even bigger if you count sales. It was the first company in Estonia to launch GPRS services, as well as one of the first in Europe to offer mobile internet services and mobile parking.
Although EMT is happy with what it has achieved since it was founded in 1991, it is always eager to improve and is currently running a wide-scale project in the development of mobile phone functions. EMT plays a huge role in the development of technologies in Estonia and is one of the founding members of the Look at the World Foundation (Vaata Maailma), which was created to fight the digital divide and to provide internet to all schools. (Business Review Europe, 07.07)

The Scandinavian Airlines SAS sells its share in Estonian Air. SAS has been the owner of 49% of the shares of Estonian Air since 2003. SAS now puts its stake on the market, focussing more on their traditional markets in the Nordic. SAS and the Estonian Government reached an agreement according to which €22 million will be paid to SAS. SAS now holds 10% of the shares and the Government 90%, owing €7.6 million to SAS until 2014. Estonian Air has the right to buy the share of SAS and SAS has the right to sell its share within four years provided the buyer is approved by the Estonian Parliament. (Kauppalehti, 20.09)

The Silmet factory located in Sillamäe was a uranium enrichment site for the Soviets during the World War Two. In the 1970’s the Silmet facility was producing rare earth metals and minerals. Silmet currently imports ores for the processing of rare earths from Russia. O’Brock, the owner of Silmet, is an American who has been living in Estonia for 12 years. He is the CEO of the facility, employing 500 people and producing 3,000 tonnes of rare earths per year. Unfortunately Silmet has no capacity to meet all the orders and must turn down potential clients, however, profiting from the risen market prices. (The Independent, 05.12)

Electricity is in the air

Closing the Ignalina nuclear power plant in Lithuania this week will probably have an impact on the Finnish power system. Over the past few years Finland has imported a lot of energy from Estonia via the Estlink cable, some of it generated in the Ignalina plant. “It is likely that energy will now move from Finland to Estonia,” believes the CEO of the Finnish transmission system operator Fingrid, Jukka Ruusunen. Once one of the main power plants is closed, the price of electricity is expected to rise in the Baltic countries. Shutting down the nuclear power plant will probably result in higher CO2 emissions as additional electricity will partly be produced in Narva oil shale-fired power plants. Some of Narva plants are renovated, while others remain in the state they were during the Soviet years. A new nuclear power plant could be located in Ignalina but the project has been on hold due to differences of opinion. (Kauppalehti, 04.01)

  • Eesti Energia is the leading Baltic energy supplier
  • Eesti Energia is the leading Baltic energy supplier
    Photo: Delfi (Ilmar Saabas)

There’s humming in the power lines running from Estonia to Lithuania. A significant share of electricity consumed in Lithuania is imported from Estonia. Estonian Energy Company has concluded an agreement, committing to satisfy 10% of Lithuania’s power need this year. The spokeswoman of the company, Marina Bachmann, assures that the Estonian power plants will produce enough energy to continue export to Finland as well. Estonia welcomes the rise in power demand on the Lithuanian market as the national power consumption shrank by about 10% during the recession. The agreement with Lithuania means a billion kroons of annual revenue for the Estonian Energy Company. (Kauppalehti, 06.01)

The gas pipeline project has often been construed by many as political. The Baltic countries have opposed the pipeline and would have preferred it to run on land, so that the states along the route could have influenced its operation. Another feared aspect is the increasing presence of Russia in the Baltic Sea. On the other hand, Russian ships are free to use international waters. Supporters of the pipeline say that now Russia is obliged to cooperate with the West. Critics, however, argue that the EU will be growingly dependent on Russia. (Helsingin Sanomat, 12.02)

Uusimaa regional branch of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and eight Estonian green organisations have contested the building permit of the Nord Stream gas pipeline in Vaasa Administrative court. The organisations argue in their statement that the public opinion has not been considered and that neither the environmental impact assessments nor explanations have been adequate. Their primary goal is the revocation of the permit. (Helsingin Sanomat, 16.03)

The Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip notes he is not disappointed at Finland for giving green light to Nord Stream gas pipeline. Estonia and other Baltic states often see the Russian-German project as a threat to security, while in Finland it is officially treated as an environmental issue. Mr Ansip also highlights the environmental aspects and notes that he would rather not comment on the security issues. According to Ansip, if there’s a will to increase military presence in the Baltic Sea, any pretext could do. (Helsingin Sanomat, 10.04)

This week Nord Stream gas pipeline should be granted the final construction permit. With this, the Regional Administrative Agency for Southern Finland completes the circle. The story of the pipeline began in Finland. Poland and the Baltic Countries accuse Russia of attempting to use the Russia-Germany pipeline as a means to exert pressure on Eastern Europe. If Gazprom was to stop gas supply to the Eastern Europe, it would in no way affect the supplies to the West. (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 01.02)

Jordan and Estonia seal an oil shale deal. The Estonian Energy Company will build an oil shale plant in Jordan. Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Khaled Irani said the Government will officially announce this deal on May 11th in the presence of the Estonian President. DG of the Natural Resources Authority, Maher Hijazin, explained the extraction for oil shale will target southern Atarat Em El Ghadran area. The Estonian company is estimated to produce 36,000 barrels of oil a day, at an estimated cost of $6 billion. The construction of a power plant will launch by 2015. The plant will reach its full commercial production capacity within ten years. (QNA, The Peninsula, 04.05)

Finnish-Estonian power cooperation will become more efficient after 2014 when the second sub-sea cable connecting the countries starts operation. The capacity of Estlink 2 is 650 MW. The Finnish transmission network operator Fingrid is laying a sub sea transmission link in cooperation with Elering. Finalising the €320 million project requires another €100 million EU investment support. The connection, increasing the transmission capacity up to 1,000 MW, supports Estonian power system and integrates it with the Nordic markets. For Finland it improves the power supply security and ensures better chances for regulation. (Turun Sanomat, 23.05)

The Estonian power generation is gradually stepping away from the environment-polluting oil shale and towards wind and shale oil. According to Sandor Liive, the head of the Estonian Energy Company, there is no real alternative for oil shale in the near future. “Oil shale guarantees Estonia’s energy security for the next 5 to 10 years,” Liive predicts. In the long term the energy produced from oil shale would make up less than half of the total power consumed. The clients of the company already have a choice – by paying a somewhat higher price they can opt for the energy produced entirely from renewable sources. This, however, does not mean giving up oil shale. The Estonian Energy Company together with the Finnish Outotec is building a new oil plant in Narva. The companies plan to export the shale oil refining technology to Jordan, a country holding significant unexploited oil shale deposits. (Helsingin Sanomat, 07.06)

The Prime Ministers of Finland, Mari Kiviniemi and Estonia, Andrus Ansip, met in Tallinn to begin negotiations on exporting nuclear power. Finnish nuclear energy can be exported to Estonia after 2014 when the sub-sea cable Estlink 2 is completed. According to the Finnish PM, power generated from renewable sources will be transmitted in addition to nuclear power. Her Estonian counterpart believes that Estlink 1 and 2 cables allow for two-way power transmission since Estonia produces more oil shale energy than it consumes. Ansip also thinks the second sub sea cable is essential in terms of Estonia’s energy security. (Helsingin Sanomat, 01.07)

Estonian Energy Company is the leading Baltic energy utility and world’s largest oil shale company. Perhaps surprisingly, it originates from Estonia. Established in 1939, it is a real giant and is currently active in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Jordan. Its knowledge, skills and technology in processing oil shale are held in high regard around the world. In the coming years, the company plans to develop a liquid fuels industry, producing high-quality oil that could be used as motor fuel. . (Business Review Europe, 06.07)

The Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) will provide credit worth €45 million to the Baltic and the Nordic countries for laying the second sub sea cable Estlink 2.
The NIB will sign a €25 million loan agreement with the Estonian transmission system operator Elering AS and a €20 million loan agreement with the Finnish transmission system operator Fingrid Oy. Both agreements are to last for 15 years. (Kauppalehti, 20.10)

Every now and then ideas about building Estonia’s own nuclear power plant surface. Now million kroons is allocated in the next year’s state budget for determining the best location for a nuclear power plant. The head of the PR department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Kalev Vapper reports one potential site to be the island of Pakri, where the Estonian Energy Company owns a plot of land suited for building a nuclear power plant. The areas of Sillamäe and Võrtsjärv have also been suggested.
A precondition for building a nuclear power plant is the export of energy, e.g. to the Finnish market. An alternative option that has also been considered is that Estonia becomes a shareholder in the sixth nuclear reactor in Finland. Finland, however, has not been very keen on the idea. No hurry though – Estonia has oil shale reserves to meet its needs for the next 30-40 years. (Kaleva, 19.12)

Train travel is fun

The 1520 mm gauge railway system inherited from the Russian empire and the USSR is more than 150,000 km long. It is used in the CIS, the Baltic States, Finland and Mongolia. In the era of globalisation, however, it is important to synchronise the work of Russian railway companies with the four macro-regions: Central Asia, the Baltics, Eastern Europe and Caucasus. This is also the goal of business forums held in Sochi annually and in the meantime, also regionally. Top managers of more than 200 companies gathered for the Tallinn meeting. To everybody’s surprise President Ilves turned up and parted to a private room with Minister Parts and the president of Russian Railways, Yakunin. Competition and cooperation were the key words at Tallinn meeting, aired by both Estonian and Russian representatives. (Комсомольская правда, 17.02)

Railway connection between Estonia and Poland, opened in 1993, was closed in 1998 as it was running at a loss. The dream of railway connection to Europe now lives on in the EU-funded Rail Baltica project. During the first stage of the project, Tallinn - Riga connection is renovated to enable trains to run at a speed of 120 km/h. The works should be completed in Estonia by 2012. Latvia froze the project last year due to the recession. After the completion of the second stage of the project, trains could run from Tallinn to Riga at 160 km/h. In the third stage Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania should receive standard gauge rail lines compatible with those of Poland and Western Europe. (Helsingin Sanomat, 13.03)

Flights grounded by the ash cloud, strikes stalling activities in ports and other threats to transportation have whipped up the interest in a railway tunnel linking Helsinki and Tallinn. The tunnel would be a part of the EU funded Rail Baltica from Tallinn through the Baltics to Warsaw. There has not been any progress as the project is deemed too expensive. Both Finland and Estonia think there are more important objects to focus on in their respective transport networks. The construction of Rail Baltica has been delayed because of the economic crisis. (Helsingin Sanomat, 30.04)

The Baltic States commissioned a feasibility study for the construction of a new railway connection. The study should be ready next year, outlining the viability of the tunnel planned to link Helsinki and Tallinn. Besides Helsinki, St Petersburg has demonstrated its interest in the Rail Baltica project, but only if it’s developed with the current gauge that corresponds to the standard rail track used in Russia. Latvia and Lithuania halted the project last year as a consequence of the recession. The EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas promised to continue working on the project and assured that the Baltic Countries will be involved. (Helsingin Sanomat, 30.04)

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