First Estonian Embassy on African Continent Opened
2 March - Foreign Minister Urmas Paet opened the Embassy of the Republic of Estonia in Cairo. The embassy in Egypt is Estonia’s first representation in the Arab world and in Africa. Foreign Minister Paet said that Estonia decided to establish its first embassy in Cairo based on the fact that Egypt is one of the leading nations of the Arab world and also plays a vital role in the Middle East peace process. “Relations between Estonia and Egypt have historically been good. Now Estonia is expanding its visibility and increasing its activity in the Middle East,” said Paet while opening the embassy. “Estonia now has two embassies in the Middle East. At the end of 2009 we opened an embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel,” added Paet.
“In addition to intensifying bilateral relations, Estonia would also like to intensify relations with other Arab nations through its embassy in Cairo. It is important for Estonia to actively participate in the shaping of the European Union’s common foreign policy—the embassy in Cairo will also begin to represent Estonia in relations with the Arab League,” said Paet. During the opening of the Estonian Embassy in Cairo, Paet noted that Egypt is one of the most important vacation destinations for Estonian tourists. “The embassy will help us aid Estonian citizens when necessary,” said Paet. “Estonian entrepreneurs also have a growing interest in Egypt, in the IT sector, the timber industry, and other areas,” Paet stated.
The Estonian and Latvian embassies in Cairo are located in the same building and use some shared rooms in addition to their own embassy rooms. The Estonian and Latvian embassies also co-operate to provide consular aid to citizens. Estonia has had a special mission in Cairo since 2007, and one of its goals was to prepare for the opening of an embassy. The Estonian Ambassador to Egypt is Tiia Miller, who currently resides in Tallinn.
The Estonian Embassy in Cairo is located on the 8th floor, Abou El Feda Building, Abou El Feda 3, Zamalek, Cairo 11211, Egypt. It can be reached be telephone at (20) 27 384 190, fax at (20) 27 384 189, and e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The embassy’s webpage is http://www.kairo.vm.ee.
Paet Recognises Contribution of Egyptian Colleague to Middle East Peace Process
2 March - While meeting in Cairo with his Egyptian colleague Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that the opening of the Estonian Embassy in Cairo would give a boost to intensifying of bilateral relations. Paet and Gheit discussed Estonia-Egypt economic co-operation, including the development of tourism, the increasing activity of the Estonian timber industry in Egypt, and co-operation opportunities in the IT sector.
“Egypt is one of the most popular tourist destinations among Estonians,” said Paet. “Estonia also recently joined the IT-related partnership working group for the Joint Africa-European Union Strategy, which is another opportunity for Estonia to share its IT solutions and for our country and its entrepreneurs to share their experiences,” said Paet. “Estonia is also interested in cultural co-operation with Egypt,” stated Foreign Minister Paet, inviting Egypt to participate in the Tallinn European Capital of Culture project in 2011.
Paet and Aboul Gheit confirmed that Estonia and Egypt will continue to hold regular political consultations. This year a delegation from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry is to visit Estonia.
Paet stated that Egypt is one of the leading nations of the Islamic and Arab worlds as well as the European Union’s most important partner in Northern Africa and the Mediterranean Union. Egypt also plays a vital role in the progress of the Middle East peace process. “Estonia consistently supports finding a two-state solution in the Middle East peace process. We are certain that the parties to the conflict must continue with negotiations,” stated Paet.
Paet also discussed the Middle East peace process in a separate meeting with Egypt’s top negotiator in the peace process, Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman. At their meeting they also discussed the security situation, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, and developments in the entire Middle East region and surrounding areas, such as Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Somalia.
Paet and Aboul Gheit also talked about Estonia and Egypt’s co-operation in international organisations, first and foremost in UN structures, and introduced their reciprocal candidacies for positions in their governing bodies. They also discussed the reform of the UN development system. “It is important for Estonia to be an active nation in world development co-operation. With the reform of UN development systems, we would like to ensure the smoother transfer of aid funds to nations and people in need. This is especially important right now, when the economic situation in the world is very tense,” said Paet.
Syria Interested in Co-operation with Estonia in Oil Shale and Information Technology Sectors
28 February - At his meeting with his Syrian colleague Walid al Muallim in Damascus, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia would like to intensify its communication with the nations of the Middle East. Paet stated that there would be opportunities for oil shale technology and IT-related co-operation with Syria. “Oil shale resources were recently found in Syria and Syria has already shown interest in using the experiences of Estonia and Eesti Energia for producing oil shale,” Paet noted.
In addition to opportunities for developing Estonia-Syria bilateral relations, at their meeting Paet and Walid al Muallem also discussed prospects for developing economic relations between Syria and the EU following the signing of an EU-Syria association agreement, co-operation in international relations, the Middle East peace process, and other issues related to international security.
“An association agreement between the European Union and Syria would set the stage for bilateral co-operation between member states and Syria, including in the economic realm,” Paet noted, expressing hope that the agreement would be signed during Spain’s EU presidency.
Foreign Minister Paet stated that it is important for Arab nations to be active in both advancing the Middle East peace process and helping to achieve reconciliation in Palestine. “Estonia is of the position that the solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is a two-state solution. The European Union should also continue to focus on supporting the Palestinian Authority as it builds up state structures,” said Paet. Paet stated that the normalisation of Syria-Lebanon relations is also positive. “In addition, Syria as a neighbour can help to further stabilise Iraq, which would allow international forces to leave,” said Paet. Since 1997, there has been an Estonian military observer in southern Lebanon.
Foreign Minister Paet Opened Estonian Honorary Consulate in Damascus
28 February - Today Foreign Minister Urmas Paet opened the Estonian Honorary Consulate in Damascus. The Estonian honorary consul in Damascus is Awab Shubat.
During the opening of the honorary consulate, Foreign Minister Paet noted that Damascus has been one of the most important hubs of the Middle East for centuries. “Estonia would like to open up communication with Middle Eastern nations, and the opening of this honorary consulate will create an opportunity for closer communication between Estonia and Syria,” said Paet. “Estonia travellers will also find their way to Syria more and more often when they know that it would be possible to get help from the Estonian honorary consul in Damascus,” he added.
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet also expressed hope that the Estonian honorary consul’s interest and experiences in the information technology sector would provide a basis for developing economic relations between Estonia and Syria.
The consular area of Honorary Consul Awab Shubat is the territory of the Syrian Arabic Republic. The opening of the honorary consulate in Damascus increases Estonia’s network of honorary consuls in the Middle East. Estonia’s other honorary consulates in the region are in Beirut and Amman.
Estonian Honorary Consul Awab Shubat was born in 1972. Awab Shubat graduated from the law department of Aleppo University and is a member of the Syrian bar association and the owner of a law office. Awab Shubat has experiences in the electronic trade business and has been tied to many IT-related projects in the bar association. The Estonian honorary consul belongs to the Red Crescent Society.
USA Under Secretary of Defence Flournoy Visits Estonia
26 February - Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met today with Under Secretary of Defence for Policy of the United States Michèle Flournoy. Foreign Minister Paet and Under Secretary of Defence Flournoy discussed Estonia and the USA’s goals in the formulation of NATO’s Strategic Concept. Prior to the meeting of NATO foreign ministers taking place in Tallinn in April, the representatives of Estonia and the USA confirmed that the basis for NATO’s activities must be Article 5 and NATO’s trustworthiness. “We want to demonstrate NATO’s transparency, trustworthiness and strength,” said Foreign Minister Paet.
In talking about Estonia and the USA’s common goals in the Afghanistan mission, Paet confirmed that Estonia would like close co-operation with the USA in both the military and civil realms. “Estonia will continue to participate in the ISAF on the level determined by the Riigikogu mandate for as long as necessary, and it will increase its civil contribution in Afghanistan compared to last year,” said Paet.
Paet and Flournoy agreed it is necessary to increase the Afghans’ participation in operations and in building up the state. “A positive example of increasing Afghan participation is the operation Moshtarak currently underway in Afghanistan,” said Paet. “In terms of both the Afghan security forces and development aid projects, we must ensure sustainability and improve the co-ordination of the military and civil measures being taken by the EU, NATO, the UN, and other international organisations,” said the Estonian foreign minister.
Under Secretary of Defence Flournoy and Prime Minister Andrus Ansip also had a meeting. The prime minister thanked the under secretary for the support that the USA has offered to Estonia. Prime Minister Ansip said that the support of the USA has been of decisive importance to our country’s independence and NATO enlargement was also possible mainly thanks to the support of the USA. “You have always been our strongest supporter and our mutual co-operation is of great value to us. We know that we will never be alone,” said the prime minister.
Prime Minister Ansip said that Estonia is also a reliable partner to its allies. “Members of the Estonian Defence Forces serve alongside U.S. soldiers on NATO military operations, and serving with you is for many of our soldiers the high point of their career,” he added. He said that since our country has received support from others in difficult times it is our duty to return the favour, now that we can provide help ourselves.
Michèle Flournoy, Under Secretary of Defence for Policy of the United States, gave assurance that the United States of America places great emphasis on Estonia’s contributions to the providing of security. She also said that the USA is interested in continued co-operation, and stressed on a separate note the importance of sharing our experiences and knowledge in the field of cyber security.
French Secretary of State for European Affairs Addresses NATO, EU Matters During Visit
26 February - During their meeting in Tallinn, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and French Secretary of State for European Affairs Pierre Lellouche discussed the Treaty of Lisbon, the development of the European External Action Service, Eastern Partnership, and Estonia’s euro aspirations. They also discussed NATO-Russia relations and Estonia-France security co-operation.
French Secretary of State for European Affairs Lellouche confirmed to the Estonian foreign minister that France contributes to the security of the European Union and adheres closely to NATO’s principles of collective defence and co-operation in the EU. Secretary of State Lellouche expressed France’s desire to begin a series of security-related consultations with Estonia. Foreign Minister Paet stated that the unity of NATO is important, including open security-related conversations with France. In talking about security co-operation, the ministers also addressed the Mistral-type ships that are scheduled to be sold to Russia.
While talking about the European External Action Service and the Treaty of Lisbon, Foreign Minister Paet noted that the implementation of the treaty and the creation of a common foreign service will help make the union’s foreign policy more unified and thereby make the EU more influential globally. “We would like for a strong and wide-reaching European Union foreign service to form by this upcoming April, so that it can be fully functional by 2012,” said Paet.
During the meeting between Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and Secretary of State Lellouche, the prime minister thanked the French representative for the participation of French fighter aircraft in the Estonian Independence Day parade on 24 February. “It is a visible sign of the fact that NATO is here and it means a lot to our people,” said Ansip. Since the beginning of January, France has been providing security for the airspace of the Baltic States with four Mirage-2000 fighter aircraft.
Another topic that was discussed at the meeting was the state of the economy of the European Union. French Secretary of State for European Affairs Pierre Lellouche recognised Estonia’s conservative budget policy. “It is very admirable,” said Mr. Lellouche. Prime Minister Ansip reconfirmed Estonia’s ambition to join the euro zone on 1 January of next year and stressed that we meet in a sustainable way all of the financial and price stability criteria necessary for joining the euro zone. “In the last ten years, our budget position has never exceeded the three percent of the gross domestic product criterion laid down in the Maastricht criteria,” stressed the prime minister.
Also discussed at the meeting was the establishing of the European Union’s IT-system agency in the fields of justice and interior relations, since both Estonia and France have applied for the position of host country. Ansip and Lellouche affirmed both countries’ willingness to co-operate and expressed hope that a solution will be found that is satisfactory for both countries.
Estonia to Participate in NATO Crisis Management Exercise
4 March - Estonia will be participating in a NATO Crisis Management Exercise (CMX 2009) from 4-10 March. The purpose of the exercise is to practice the NATO crisis management process for areas outside the Euro-Atlantic region, in which a worsening security situation will be accompanied by attacks on UN peacekeeping missions, humanitarian crises, a nation threatening its neighbour, regional conflicts, and terrorism. The scenario for the staff exercise, which will take place in real time, is fictional.
The CMX is a regularly scheduled NATO Crisis Management Exercise, the goal of which is to practice political, military and civil organisation and crisis management procedures in order to be able to support NATO consultations and the collective decision-making process in a crisis situation.
Another aim of the exercise is to practice consultation procedures with the NATO partner states and international organisations participating in the exercise. Participating in CMX 2009 will be all 28 NATO member states, the partner states Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, Macedonia and Ukraine, as well as Israel from the Mediterranean Dialogue countries. In addition, the sub-organisations of the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the International Organisation for Migration are invited to participate as observers. About 2 500 will be involved in the exercise.
Institutions from Estonia that will be included in the exercise are the Foreign Ministry, Estonia’s Permanent Representation to NATO, the Defence Ministry, the Defence Forces, the State Chancellery, the Security Police, the Ministry of Economics and Communications, the Interior Ministry, the Rescue Board, the Finance Ministry, and the Justice Ministry. This is Estonia’s fourth time participating in the CMX exercise (earlier exercises took place in 2005, 2006 and 2008).
Foreign Ministry Undersecretary and Swedish EU Affairs Minister Discuss Implementation of Baltic Sea Strategy
2 March - On Foreign Ministry Undersecretary for European Union Affairs Kaja Tael met with Swedish Minister for European Union Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson, who is on a visit in Estonia. At their meeting they discussed the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, the EU’s renewed competitiveness strategy “Europe 2020”, and issues of gender equality.
Undersecretary Kaja Tael and Swedish Minister for European Union Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson agreed that the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region is off to a good start and that Estonia and Sweden’s co-operation is going very smoothly, for example in concrete projects in the internal market sector. “The goal in the near future is to successfully tie the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region to the key policies of the European Union, such as cohesion, regional and budget policies, but also to common agricultural policy. The Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region is a natural means for implementing the upcoming ‘Europe 2020’ strategy,” said Tael.
Tael explained that the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region can, among other things, remove bureaucratic obstacles to regional development. This will increase the competitiveness of the entire union.
In talking about the formulation of the renewed strategy for the European Union “Europe 2020”, Estonia clarified its position on how the renewed strategy should first and foremost help raise the competitiveness of the EU through further developing the union’s internal market. Swedish Minister for EU Affairs Ohlsson emphasised the need to include the issue of gender equality in the topic of employment.
Other topics discussed at the meeting were Estonia’s candidacy to be the location for the EU IT agency for justice and home affairs and EU budgetary reform. Both Estonia and Sweden are of the position that the EU budget requires comprehensive reforming and updating.
Estonia’s Attention is on Rights of Women and Children and Protecting Free Speech
3 March - At the 13th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in Geneva, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised that Estonia pays particular attention to protecting the rights of women and children and free speech. Paet stated that human rights and their protection affects each and every one of us, but unfortunately there are many people for whom these self-evident rights are not allowed and ensured.
Paet emphasised the need to increase international efforts and attention towards protecting the rights of people living in conflict zones, especially women. “In today’s world, not a single free society should tolerate that in some nations women lack many rights, and men also have relatively few,” said Paet. “Promoting the rights of women is also one of our development co-operation goals in Afghanistan. Many Estonian development co-operation projects in Afghanistan are geared towards improving the general health care situation for women,” he added.
In his speech, the foreign minister also spoke about Estonia’s activities in protecting children from internet threats and emphasised the need to increase awareness about them in children and parents.
Paet noted that Estonia highly values the UN’s activities in increasing global understanding of human rights principles. “Estonia is a candidate to be in the UN Human Right Council for the years 2012-2015 and in the UN Commission on the Status of Women, since we hold as priorities the fight against violence against women, the protection of children’s rights and freedom of speech, and the fight against racism,” said Paet.
On the topic of the rights of women, Foreign Minister Paet said that Estonia has made its contribution to protecting them through the UN Economic and Social Council, as a member of the UN Committee on the Status of Women, and as the chairman of the advisory committee of the UN Development Fund for Women.
Windows of Estonian Mission Broken During Terror Attacks in Kabul
26 February (BNS) - The windows of the Estonian special mission in Afghanistan were broken in the explosion of a suicide attack in the Afghan capital of Kabul early on Friday. The premises of the Estonian special mission are in the Safi Landmark Hotel in the Shar-e-Now area. A bomb exploded near the hotel Friday morning.
"The explosion turned the windows of the special mission premises into a heap of shards (the windows also broke in October when there was an explosion at the Indian embassy)," the Estonian charge d'affaires in Afghanistan Tanel Sepp wrote in his blog. "I was fortunately not wounded at all and was evacuated to a safer place at the first opportunity," Sepp wrote.
Sepp said that after the first explosion in the area there was an intensive exchange of fire during the next couple of hours and another two bombs exploded. Sepp also said that the shopping centre on the ground floor of the Safi Landmark Hotel was badly damaged and had been rendered unusable for a certain period. “The storefronts are all covered with shards and the main entrance into the hotel and the centre are practically in ruins," he wrote.
The windows of the Estonian special mission also broke in the terror attack in October.
In the co-ordinated attacks in Kabul early Friday morning, 16 people were killed and 32 injured. According to the Interior Ministry there were foreigners and three policemen among them.
The Islamist movement of Taliban has assumed responsibility for the attack.
Consultations Took Place Between Estonia and Russia in Moscow
4 March - Consultations about Europe took place between the foreign ministries of Estonia and Russia in Moscow on Wednesday, 3 March. The Estonian side of the consultations was led by Foreign Ministry political director Clyde Kull and the Russian side was led by director general of the European Co-operation Department of the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation Vladimir Voronkov.
In talking about the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Estonia is content with the fact that the Corfu Process, within the framework of which Russia’s proposals for European security are being discussed, is taking place within the OSCE and is therefore strengthening the OSCE’s role in security reform. Topics that still require attention are the matter of Georgia’s territorial integrity and the restoration of the OSCE representation and monitoring mission in Georgia. Estonia supports the efforts of Kazakhstan as the chairman of the OSCE in 2010.
Another topic addressed at the consultations was co-operation in the Council of Europe. It is important that the priorities of the Swiss presidency are the safeguarding of human rights, democracy, and rule of law. Estonia welcomed Russia’s ratification of Protocol 14 of the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights.
While talking about co-operation between the European Union and Russia, the focus was on the EU-Russia partnership for modernisation, negotiations for a new EU-Russia agreement, Russia joining the WTO, the EU-Russia visa dialogue, and co-operation in crisis management.
In talking about regional co-operation, EU-Russia co-operation within the Northern Dimension was addressed and cross-border co-operation was discussed. It was declared that the signing of the financing agreement for cross-border co-operation programmes of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) with Russia at the EU-Russia summit in Stockholm in November of 2009 is an important step in advancing co-operation between the regions.
Foreign Minister Paet Opened Estonian Honorary Consulate in Geneva
3 March - Foreign Minister Urmas Paet opened the Estonian Honorary Consulate in Geneva. The new Estonian honorary consul in Geneva is Matteo Inaudi.
According to Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, relations between Estonia and Switzerland are very good but there is room for improvement in economic relations. “The opening of the honorary consulate will give us an opportunity to further intensify Estonia-Switzerland relations in the economic, educational and cultural realms. As a lawyer specialising in the financial sector and banking, Estonia’s new honorary consul can help our entrepreneurs with matters of interest to them in Geneva,” said Paet. “Our new honorary consul can also help to promote contact between Estonia and Switzerland’s francophone cultural spaces,” he added. Estonia has two honorary consulates in Switzerland.
The new Estonian honorary consul’s consular region is Geneva, Neuenburg, Jura, Freiburg, Waadt, and Wallis. The honorary consulate is located at 5 avenue Léon-Gaud, 1206 Geneva, Switzerland. The honorary consulate can be reached by phone at +41 (0) 22 839 70 00, fax at +41 (0) 22 839 70 07, or email at the address email@example.com.
Matteo Inaudi was born in 1956 and earned his higher education at the University of Zurich. He is a respected lawyer in the Ming Halpérin Burger Inaudi law firm who has specialised in business, banking and bankruptcy law. Inaudi has been the director of the classical music festival “Amadeus” for over ten years and is a legal advisor for the European Festival Association.
French Minister Explains Possible Sale of Mistrals to Russia
26 February (BNS) - Meeting with Estonian Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo, French Secretary of State for European Union Affairs Pierre Lellouche addressed the possible sale of warships to Russia. Lellouche explained the issue of a possible arms deal between France and Russia and the ministers agreed on further exchange of information on the issue, the Defence Ministry said.
"We are satisfied that we have received pertinent explanations from the French minister and the ambassador that permit us to be certain that the interests of any of the allies will not be damaged through that potential transaction. We do not think that the taking of measures of a legal nature would be the most important at this moment," Aaviskoo said in response to a question by BNS regarding the Latvian and Lithuanian defence ministers' recent statements, according to which stricter regulations should be set on the sale of arms by the EU.
Aaviksoo and Lellouche agreed at the meeting in closer defence co-operation between Estonia and France. "The defence co-operation between Estonia and France so far has created a strong foundation for us to build on," Aaviksoo said. He said that France had been a dedicated ally that had taken part in the Baltic countries' air policing mission on several occasions and, and also in the Baltic Defence College.
It was agreed that the political directors of the countries' defence ministries would meet in the near future in order to discuss the plan of action of increasing co-operation in the next few years.
NATO to Organise Several Exercises in Baltic Countries This Year
27 February (BNS) - NATO is planning to organise a number of military exercises in the Baltic countries this year to train arrival of NATO troops and their operations, the daily Postimees reported.
This summer there will be a joint exercise with the United States in North Estonia. According to preliminary plans about 500 US marines will land on the Estonian coast and will then move on to the Defence Forces training ground, where a joint battalion will be formed of them in order to train joint action under an Estonian commander.
Joint action with US soldiers will also be trained in a major exercise in Latvia where all three Baltic countries will train side by side with Americans.
In addition, there will be a staff exercise in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania where support to NATO forces arriving in the area will be trained. The unloading of a NATO transport ship will be trained in Latvia, the daily Postimees reported.
Lauri Abel, head of the Defence Ministry defence readiness and operations department, said that there were plans to continue such exercises and that their volume and complexity would increase rather than diminish.
These are the biggest NATO exercises in the Baltic countries since their accession to the alliance six years ago. Before last year no major NATO exercise took place in the Baltic countries.
Estonian Support for Participation in Foreign Missions Grows
3 March (BNS) - Estonians' support for the Defence Forces' participation in foreign missions has grown, but the Afghanistan operation also has many opponents.
A fresh survey the research company Turu-uuringute AS conducted for the Defence Ministry showed that 59% of respondents are in favour of and 36% against Estonian troops' participation in international military operations.
The researchers note that attitudes towards participation diverge but the overall sentiment has become more positive over the last few years. In the May 2009 study 58% and in January of the same year 49% of those polled supported participation in missions. In 2008 support was 53% in August and 50% in January, and in June 2007 44% support was recorded.
The poll showed strongest opposition to the Afghanistan mission, which was backed by 45% and opposed by 49% of respondents. However, compared with January 2009 support has risen by 15% points.
Participation in NATO Response Forces and/or European Union battle groups had the support of 70% of those polled. Participation in military operations of NATO is seen as having top priority.
As reasons why Estonia should contribute to international military operations, NATO's assistance in case Estonia came under threat (52%), giving Defence Forces personnel the necessary real combat experience (51%) and contributing to peace worldwide (31%) were named most frequently.
Turu-uuringute AS interviewed 1 000 residents of Estonia aged 15-74 for the survey between 20 January and 2 February.
Handling of Cargo at Port of Tallinn Up 12 Percent in February
4 March (BNS) - The amount of cargo handled at the Estonian state-owned Tallinna Sadam (Port of Tallinn) was nearly 2.5 million tons, 12% higher on year. In the first two months this year Tallinna Sadam has handled 5.4 million tons of goods, nearly 19% more than in the same period last year.
The handling of the biggest group of commodities, oil products, increased by one percent to 3.8 million tons. Carriage of timber cargo increased 3.6-fold to 1.04 million tons. The amount of ro-ro goods handled grew 15.9% to 0.45 million tons. The carriage of containers contracted 8% to 21 318 TEU, while the tonnage of goods carried in containers increased 9.6%.
The number of passengers passing through Tallinna Sadam in the first two months of the year was 1.025 million, 5.6% fewer than in January-February 2009.
On the Tallinn-Helsinki route the fall over the two months was 0.3% with the number of passengers totalling 746 200; on the Tallinn-Stockholm route there were 97 400 passengers, 29% fewer on year.
January Electricity Output Up 19 Percent on Year
3 March (BNS) - Statistics Estonia said that a total of 1 233 gigawatt-hours of electricity was generated in Estonia in January 2010, 19% more than in the same month in 2009. Compared with last December, output of electricity increased by 52.6%.
The amount of electricity generated by hydroelectric power plants was 2.1 gigawatt-hours in January and that generated from wind energy 15.6 gigawatt-hours, respectively 19.2% less and 50% more compared with January 2009.
Compared with last December the amount of electricity generated from hydroelectric and wind power contracted by respectively 22.2 and 33.3% this January.
Import of electricity amounted to 96 and export to 268 gigawatt-hours in January, respectively 45.5% less and 5.9% more than in the same month in 2009 and respectively 76.5 and 10.7% less compared with last December.
The output of thermal energy grew by 31% to 1 332 gigawatt-hours in January. Compared with last December, the output of thermal energy increased by 24.7% in the first month this year.
Estonia to Back Construction of Three Cold Storage Plants with EUR 8.6 Mln
26 February (BNS) - The Estonian government will allocate three fishing co-operatives 135 million kroons (EUR 8.6 mln) in investment support from the European Fisheries Fund.
The cold storage plants to be built with the help of the investment support will enable fishermen to get considerably higher prices for fish in the future, the Agriculture Ministry said.
One refrigeration plant will be built in Paldiski, another in Haapsalu and the third in the Pärnu region. Each facility is to hold a minimum of 2 000 tons of fish and have a daily refrigeration capacity of 200 tons.
Among them, the three fishing co-operatives getting the support use 90% of Estonia's quota of sprat and Baltic herring trawling.
Sadolin Paints Centre Enters Lithuanian Market
4 March (BNS) - The Estonian paints reseller OÜ Värvikeskuste Grupp (Paint Centres Group) that operates under the Sadolini Värvikeskus trade mark recently signed a contract by which it acquired a 60% holding in the Lithuanian paints reseller Multikontraktas, the business centre Äripaev reported.
The Lithuanian company is planning to open a paints store in Vilnius.
Last November Värvikeskuste Grupp established its Latvian subsidiary Krasu Grupa. It operates a paints store and warehouse in Riga.
"We have become the biggest company specialising in the sale of paints in Estonia and opportunities of growth are limited in our own country," said Olle Saare, CEO and owner of Värvikeskuste Grupp.
"At present it is extremely difficult to earn a profit from these markets but we will do our best to avoid a major loss. If the market a bit more normalised, we are already in the picture or have won a certain position," Saare commented on the situation on the Latvian and Lithuanian markets.
The turnover of Värvikeskuste Grupp in 2009 was 90 million kroons (EUR 5.7 mln).
Essays by Estonian President Appear in Latvian Translation
1 March (BNS) - The Latvian publishing house Lauku Avize last week published a collection of Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves' essays in Latvian translation.
The collection "Open World and National Values" contains Ilves' writings from 1986-2006 and an interview he gave to the newspaper Latvijas Avize last spring, spokespeople for the president told BNS.
Ilves' essay collection published by the Estonian publishing house Varrak in 2006 was translated into Latvian by the Estophile Eva Martuza.
The collection, which is richly illustrated with photographs, appeared in a series of books by political thinkers. A collection of late President Lennart Meri's speeches was published in the same series two years ago.
Ilves' speeches and writings appeared in Hungarian in 2008.