European Commission Convergence Report Gives Positive Opinion of Estonia
12 May - The European Commission evaluated Estonia's readiness for accession to the euro zone and made a proposal for the country to be admitted to the euro zone in 2011. In the Commission's opinion, Estonia will enter the euro area from a considerably better position than many previous entrants. The Baltic state has clearly done its homework and has achieved one of the strongest fiscal positions in the European Union, the EU executive said.
"To ensure that the adoption of the euro is a success, Estonia must maintain a prudent fiscal policy stance," said Olli Rehn, EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner. Estonia also needs to "remain vigilant and react early and decisively" if signs of macroeconomic imbalance or deterioration of competitiveness emerged, he said. "Our conclusion on Estonia sends a strong signal to our member states and the broader audience. It shows that the euro area is functional, attractive and able to respect and deliver on its commitments and objectives, respecting fiscal discipline and prudent economic policies on member states," the Commission said.
Any other conclusion would be utterly unfair, but also a highly detrimental signal to the public and markets, underscoring that the recent events have made the EMU framework dysfunctional, it added.
In the Commission's evaluation, Estonia clearly meets the Maastricht criteria for the euro. The country's inflation rate is -0.7% (compared to reference of 1%), the public deficit is 1.7% of GDP (reference 3%), and public debt 7.2% of GDP (reference 60%). The Commission judged that Estonia also meets the long-term interest rate stability requirement even though the country has no government bonds on which to base an evaluation.
Massimo Suardi, the official dealing with euro changeover matters at the European Commission's Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs, said they analysed other indicators related to interest rate stability, such as the low level of public debt, credit ratings, and short-term interest rates.
The reference value of the inflation criterion was established on the basis of figures of three EU member states with negative inflation. One of them was Estonia, whose average 12-month inflation in March was minus 0.7%.
Estonia's national currency the kroon has been pegged to the euro since June 2004. Decisions by several more bodies are needed for the plan to switch to the euro from the start of next year to become final.
On 8 June a meeting of the EU finance ministers, Ecofin, will take place.
They will discuss the enlargement of the euro zone on the basis of the assessments of the Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Commission's proposal.
The European Parliament is due to give its opinion on the enlargement decision at the session taking place from 14-16 June. A summit of EU leaders is scheduled for 17-18 June that will offer an assessment of the convergence report by the ECB and the proposal as regards euro zone enlargement.
The final decision about enlargement will be made at a meeting of Ecofin taking place immediately after the summit. That will be on 13 July, but there is no obligation to make the decision at the meeting immediately after the summit.
The Ecofin decision has to be unanimous. Before the Ecofin decision a positive recommendation has to come from the finance ministers of euro zone members (the euro group). This is a step added by the Lisbon Treaty that has never been used before. The euro group meets a day before Ecofin.
Estonia Receives Invitation to Join OECD
10 May - Today Secretary General of the OECD Angel Gurría announced that Estonia will receive an invitation to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on 27 May, when the OECD Council on the ministerial level will be held in Paris.
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that accession negotiations with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which began in 2007, have ended. “Estonia is achieving its goal by acquiring full member status in the organisation at the end of 2010,” said Foreign Minister Paet. Foreign Minister Paet said that OECD member states are each leaders in their own region. “The invitation to join the OECD recognises the innovativeness of Estonia’s development. As an OECD member, Estonia will have the opportunity to participate as an equal partner in discussions and share its experiences, while also learning more than ever before from the experiences of others,” said Paet.
The goal of the OECD is to support the expansion of general world economic development and world trade. The primary means for achieving these goals is close co-operation among member states, as well as utilising dialogue, consensus, and lessons learned from the better experiences of others. The OECD addresses various sectors (such as education and environmental issues) with comprehensive analyses and gives recommendations for formulating policies in the given area. In addition, economic reviews of the member states are compiled on a regular basis. As part of the accession process, a thorough economic review of Estonia was published in 2009.
EU Foreign Minister Confirm Positions for EU-Russia Summit
10 May - Foreign Minister Paet participated in a meeting of the European Union foreign ministers in Brussels. The European Union foreign policy leaders discussed matters related to the European Union-Russia Summit that will take place in Rostov-on-Don on 31 May and 1 June, where the primary topics will be the economic crisis, climate change and energy, and visa dialogue. Foreign Minister Paet stated that at the summit the EU plans to bring up the vital issue of protectionism and Russia joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO). “Economic and trade relations with Russia are an area in which we need to rapidly resolve problems and move forward,” said Foreign Minister Paet. “Economic and trade relations must be regulated by a new all-encompassing European Union-Russia agreement,” Paet added. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet believes that it is essential for Russia to quickly join the World Trade Organisation. “Both trade relations and the movement of people are inhibited by the limited capacity of the border between the European Union and Russia. The border queue issues need to be resolved quickly,” Paet noted. The agenda for the EU-Russia Summit includes a discussion on the Partnership for Modernisation being developed between the EU and Russia, which Foreign Minister Paet believes will be a good co-operation framework to provide opportunities to share reform experiences first and foremost on the local municipal government level. Foreign Minister Paet confirms that the visa dialogue between the European Union and Russia must be primarily based on technical readiness and that progress must be made in the context of visa facilitation with Eastern Partnership states.
In connection with the Washington Nuclear Security Summit and the Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) currently underway in New York, the European Union foreign ministers discussed nuclear issues. The foreign ministers’ discussion on Iran also focused on nuclear security. Foreign Minister Paet stated that Iran has not started to co-operate, which is why the agenda included a discussion on setting tougher sanctions. “We hope that discussions on the new UN Security Council resolution, with which we plan to strengthen sanctions against Iran, will progress smoothly and an agreement on new measures will be achieved as quickly as possible,” Paet asserted. “It is important to have as much international support as possible for the new Security Council resolution, including the support of the Persian Gulf Co-operation Council,” Paet elaborated.
While talking about the situation in Somalia, the EU foreign ministers discussed problems related to the transfer and prosecution of pirates. The UN Security Council approved a resolution on the legal aspects of the fight against piracy in Somalia on 27 April, according to which the UN Secretary General will present a report within three months on ways to improve the system for prosecuting pirates.
During the General Affairs Council, the foreign ministers will discuss the agenda for the European Council taking place in June, which will focus on the new employment and economic growth strategy Europe 2020. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that the Council agenda also includes climate issues and the European Union’s positions for both the G20 Toronto Summit and the UN Millennium Development Goals Conference in New York.
Ansip Assures Karzai That Estonia Will Continue to Support Afghanistan
9 May - At today’s meeting in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip confirmed that Estonia will continue its participation in the local military and civil mission as long as is necessary. Hamid Karzai asked the prime minister to convey his sincere thanks to the Estonian people for supporting his country.
The main subject under discussion during the meeting between Ansip and President Karzai was the situation in Afghanistan, with special focus on the peace negotiations and the reconciliation process between the various groups in Afghanistan. At the end of May, a meeting of tribal and community leaders is scheduled to take place in Kabul, where about 1 500 community representatives will discuss how to reconcile the various factions.
Prime Minister Ansip stated that success in building up the country can only be achieved if the Afghans themselves wish to do so, and the country’s development must be based on solutions worked out by the Afghans. According to the prime minister, this requires a search for broader consensus in Afghan society, and the international community can only support the country’s developmental process. “Creating trust in the country’s institutions is of key importance in the establishment of a respected central authority.” The prime minister also noted that the establishment of stability in the country is not a short-term project, and support from the international community will be required for many more years.
Despite the complicated situation that persists, the prime minister said that positive developments are also apparent. “In comparing Afghanistan today to what I saw in 2006, I am happy to see improvements. For instance, already half of children in Afghanistan attend school. In a country where the literacy rate is 28%, this is a very big step,” he said.
Prime Minister Ansip confirmed to the president that Estonia wants to make a greater contribution to the civil mission in the future. At the same time, he added that the civil missions will only have limited success without guaranteed security. “The members of the Estonian Defence Forces will remain in Afghanistan as long as is necessary because by ensuring security here, the Estonian soldiers are also ensuring security at home.”
President Hamid Karzai asked the prime minister to convey his sincere thanks to the Estonian people. “I thank you for everything you have done for our country through the years – this is invaluable. Your actions demonstrate how much a small nation can love freedom,” Hamid Karzai said.
Today the prime minister also met with Yunos Qanuni, the Speaker of the Afghan House of Representatives, with whom the opportunities for bilateral co-operation between the two countries and the situation in Afghanistan were discussed.
Prospects for Co-operation Between Jordan and Estonia are Very Good
10 May - Prime Minister Andrus Ansip met with Prime Minister Samir Zaid al-Rifai of Jordan today, with whom the possibilities for future co-operation between the two countries in the fields of oil shale energy and information technology were discussed, as well as the tourism sector. In the interests of promoting economic co-operation between the two countries, the prime ministers signed an investment protection agreement between Estonia and Jordan.
According to Prime Minister Ansip, the strongest connection between Estonia and Jordan is in the field of oil shale energy. “Based on long-term experience, Estonia has developed modern technologies for the utilisation of oil shale. We are ready to share this experience and to make a contribution to the development of your oil shale industry,” Prime Minister Ansip said.
Speaking about information technology, both parties stressed the savings that can be realised by the implementation of technological developments in the provision of public services. “Public e-services are very popular in Estonia because IT-based solutions help both the citizens and government save time and money,” Prime Minister Ansip said.
In regard to the tourism sector, Ansip stated that the cultural heritage that has been preserved in Jordan and its unique natural sights are attracting increasing numbers of Estonians to come and discover the region.
In order to enliven economic relations, the prime ministers today signed a reciprocal investment protection agreement.
Prime Minister Ansip Met with King of Jordan
11 May - Prime Minister Andrus Ansip met with King Abdullah II of Jordan today, with whom he discussed co-operation between the two countries at the bilateral level as well as within international organisations. The meeting was also attended by Jordanian Prime Minister Samir Zaid al-Rifai.
Andrus Ansip introduced Estonia’s vision of the co-operation between the two countries to the King of Jordan, noting that if the oil shale energy project is successful, it will prompt other Estonian companies to invest in the country. “The successful implementation of the Eesti Energia project will increase trust between the two countries, which is the basis for economic success,” he said. “Currently we are linked through our interest in oil shale energy, but I believe that there is also great potential in the IT sector and tourism.”
The Estonian prime minister also stressed that excellent co-operation with Jordan is already taking place at the international level, such as within the framework of the United Nations. Also, a contribution is jointly being made to the ISAF to guarantee security in Afghanistan.
King Abdullah II welcomed the increased interest between the two countries and proposed that one form of co-operation could be joint desert exercises in Jordan for soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
Before his meeting with King Abdullah II, the prime minister observed a demonstration of special operations equipment at the 8th Special Operations Forces Exhibition and Conference – SOFEX, which was attended by delegations from more than 80 countries. The king’s brother, Prince Feisal Bin Al Hussein, accompanied the prime minister on a tour of the equipment exhibition that followed the presentation, during which they discussed both the mission in Afghanistan as well as the NATO partnership.
The prime minister also met today with Khaled Irani, Jordan’s Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, and Amer Hadid, the Minister of Industry and Trade. In the afternoon, Prime Minister Ansip visited the Estonian Honorary Consulate, where he expressed hope that other Estonia companies and also Estonian travellers will discover the opportunities to be found in Jordan.
In the evening a concession agreement was signed between Eesti Energia and the Jordanian government for the utilisation of the Attarat Umm Ghudran oil shale deposit.
World Bank President Recognises Estonia’s Success in Coming to Terms with Economic Crisis
8 May - At his meeting in Washington with World Bank President Robert Zoellick, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia is ready to contribute to the World Bank’s projects more than before with experts on Estonia’s e-state and reform experiences.
Paet stated that the World Bank is the development bank with the widest global range for lending to governments and giving advice on reforms. “Estonia’s IT expertise in the government and private sectors can be used, for example, for e-governing and e-tax systems. We are also offering the World Bank the opportunity to take advantage of the experiences of our IT experts,” he noted.
Zoellick recognised Estonia for coming to terms with the effects of the economic crisis and keeping the state’s budget balanced.
Estonia has been a donor nation to the development co-operation projects of the World Bank since 2006. Paet stressed that when possible, Estonia has always taken the World Bank’s co-operation suggestions into consideration while planning development co-operation. “Estonia has contributed to many World Bank funds. For example, we have given to the International Development Association, the Trust Fund for the Kosovo Sustainable Employment Development Policy, and the Haiti Reconstruction Trust Fund created this year,” said Paet. “Estonia itself has received help from the World Bank and its experts prior to 2000, and for us it is important to be an active donor now, when we can share our own reform experiences and expertise,” he added.
Zoellick stated that Estonia’s experiences with e-state and reform activities are extremely welcome in World Bank projects.
Estonia has been a member of the World Bank since 1992 and has been continuously represented in it since 2000. In the World Bank, Estonia works in close co-operation with the Nordic and Baltic countries. The last time Estonia borrowed money from the World Bank was in 2000 to fund investments in the Estonian highway network. In the 1990s Estonia used loans and technical aid from the World Bank in the agricultural, energy, and health care sectors.
Council of Europe Needs Reform to Better Fulfil its Responsibilities
11 May - A meeting of the foreign ministers of the members of the Council of Europe took place in Strasbourg, where Estonia was represented at the meeting by Foreign Ministry Secretary General Marten Kokk. In his speech, Secretary General Kokk emphasised that among the Council of Europe’s work from the first half of the year, the most important issues for Estonia were ensuring human rights and basic freedoms in relation to the Russia-Georgia conflict, the reform of the European Court of Human Rights, and the topic of cyber security.
The Foreign Ministry secretary general stated that Estonia believes that to effectively protect human rights and civil society as a whole, the Council of Europe must actively address the new threats of the 21st century. “We hope that cyber security and the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime will remain priorities within the realm of developing rule of law,” asserted Kokk. He expressed hope that the prevention and hindering of cyber crime would be supported by the co-operation agreement that accompanies the Council of Europe’s Global Project on Cybercrime, which was signed within the framework of the meeting.
Kokk said at the meeting that progress must be made in the reform of the Europe Court of Human Rights, regardless of the fact that it is a complicated and time-consuming endeavour.
Kokk noted that the Council of Europe requires reforms. “The Council must set its sights on vital topics for the future and focus on the practical problems of the contemporary world,” said Kokk, adding that in order to do this the organisation must set clearer priorities, achieve greater visibility internationally, and implement a more thoroughly considered budget policy.
At today’s meeting, Switzerland, which has been the chairman nation of the Council of Europe since November 2009, will hand the chairmanship over to Macedonia* for the second half of 2010.
The Council of Europe is Europe’s most important organisation involved in protecting human rights and basic freedoms, which includes all European nations except for Belarus. The European Court of Human Rights operates at the Council of Europe.
* Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Population Growth of Ethnic Estonians Positive in 2009
12 May (BNS) - Natural population growth among ethnic Estonians was positive for the second year in a row in 2009, whereas for the country's population as a whole growth remained negative, Statistics Estonia said on Wednesday. During 2009, 11 442 ethnic Estonians were born and 10 526 died, which marks a positive growth by 916 people.
Ethnic Estonians' population decline turned into growth for the first time since 1990 in 2008, when 11 578 ethnic Estonians were born and 10 983 died. In 1990, the last year that Estonia saw population growth of ethnic Estonians, 14 751 ethnic Estonians were born and 13 654 died, meaning an increase of 1 097. The population of ethnic Estonians declined the most in 1994, when births numbered 10 403 and deaths 14 726, leaving a gap of 4 323.
The last negative year was 2007, when births numbered 11 195 and deaths 11 372, marking a drop by 177 people.
The entire Estonian population suffered a natural decline by 318 people last year, with 15 763 people born and 16 081 people who died. 1990 was also the year that the entire Estonian population saw positive growth for the last time, with 22 304 people born and 19 531 deaths recorded, or 2 773 births more than deaths. Likewise, negative growth bottomed out in 1994 when 14 176 people were born and 22 212 died. The size of natural population decline in that year was 8 036.
Statistics Estonia: Innovativeness of Enterprises Remains Good
12 May (BNS) - Data from an innovation survey show that 48% of the enterprises covered by the survey were technologically innovative in 2008 and 35% of them had implemented organisational or marketing innovation during the last three years, Statistics Estonia reports.
The proportion of technologically innovative enterprises was quite stable during 2004-2008. A period of active innovative activities in connection with Estonia's accession to the European Union is distinct only among services.
By comparison, the EU mean values for technological innovativeness were 41% for industry and 36% for services in 2006, which shows that Estonia continually belongs to the group of successful member states. Similarly with the EU, innovativeness in Estonia is higher in enterprises belonging to concerns (this even in the case of national concerns – 60% in 2008), having foreign equity or employing higher numbers of people.
The leather and garment industries, as well as land transport, were at the bottom of the rankings with innovativeness below one third.
The Community Innovation Survey is regularly conducted by the statistical organisations of all EU member states on the basis of a harmonised methodology.
Prime Minister Thanked Soldiers Serving on Mission in Afghanistan
8 May - Prime Minister Andrus Ansip visited Camp Bastion military base today in the vicinity of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, where he familiarised himself with the Estonian contingent and thanked the Estonian soldiers for their contribution in guaranteeing security in the most militarily active province.
“By helping others, you are also defending the Republic of Estonia. Although service in Afghanistan is difficult, it is easier to resolve problems where they develop rather than to let them spread beyond the region,” the prime minister stressed. “Whether you recognise it nor not, you are all Estonian patriots. Having accepted the responsibility of fulfilling Estonia’s allied obligations, your contribution to the security of Estonia is hard to overestimate,” he added. “I thank you for having accepted the responsibility of fulfilling Estonia’s security obligations and wish you good soldier’s luck,” he said.
Lieutenant Colonel Kajari Klettenberg, Head of the Estonian contingent, provided the prime minister with a detailed introduction to the contingent’s mission area, the activities of the units, and their composition and equipment. Currently, the Estonian contingent at Camp Bastion is in the process of being replaced and there are almost 300 soldiers at the base.
After meeting with the contingent, Prime Minister Ansip moved to the training field in order to observe the new company’s training related to discovering and defusing homemade explosive devices.
One hundred and fifty-one members of the Defence Forces are participating in the Estonian mission to Afghanistan, the largest part of which is comprised of the infantry company. The company has been serving in Helmand Province since 2006 and is part of the Task Force Helmand led by Great Britain. Since May 2008, a mortar unit has been in Afghanistan to support the infantry company and help secure the military base.
Baltic Ministers of Defence Discuss Baltic Air Policing
7 May - The ministers of defence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, who met in Vilnius, certified the analysis related to the future of air policing of the Baltic countries. According to Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo, instead of developing an independent and rather expensive capability, it would be in the common interests of NATO for the Baltic countries to contribute to other fields of security necessary for the alliance and continue with the current solution of Baltic air policing also in the future. “We decided to submit relevant proposals for internal decision-making as well as to start consultations with allies,” Aaviksoo said. Since 2004 the air policing of the Baltic countries has been carried out by the fighter planes of other NATO countries.
The ministers of defence also signed the new development plan of the Baltic Defence College. The new development plan shall provide the operating guidelines for the college until the year 2016, including more active involvement of non-Baltic countries in the management and structure of the college.
Starting in 2011 the Baltic Defence College will be led for the first time by an Estonian officer, Colonel Meelis Kiili, who is currently serving in the United States of America as defence attaché.
The ministers of defence also stressed the need to raise defence expenditures to 2% of the gross domestic product and the importance of the common defence procurements of the Baltic countries. In this aspect, the ministers agreed that by the autumn specific and practical proposals shall be drafted for common procurements, which would allow the countries to achieve remarkable saving in defence budgets of all Baltic countries.
International Exercise in Cyber Defence Going On in Estonian Capital
10 May (BNS) - Baltic Cyber Shield, an international exercise in cyber defence taking place from 10-11 May, is intended to give its participants a practical hands-on experience in defending computer networks. The event is jointly organised by the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) and several Swedish governmental institutions.
The aim of Baltic Cyber Shield is to increase understanding of the international cyber environment and to enhance international co-operation for handling technical incidents. During the exercise, six teams from Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and the NATO headquarters (NCIRC) will seek to defend virtual computer networks against hostile attacks, organisers said. "One of the main tasks for the teams is to defend an initially insecure company network. This network also includes components of SCADA systems that are used for monitoring and controlling critical information infrastructure," Kaur Kasak, the exercise director from the CCDCOE, explained.
The event is jointly set up by the CCDCOE and the Swedish National Defence College (SNDC) with support from various Swedish institutions and the Estonian Küberkaitseliit (Cyber Defence League).
Participating teams will come from governmental agencies in Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and the NATO Computer Incident Response Capability Technical Centre.
The first similar exercise took place in 2008 as a joint event between Swedish and Estonian universities organised by the Swedish National Defence College and the Estonian Defence Forces.
Ligi: Convergence Report Sets Stage for Estonia Joining Euro Zone
12 May - In the convergence report released today, the European Commission made a proposal to the EU finance ministers to invite Estonia to join the euro zone during their meeting in July. According to the report, Estonia sustainably fulfils all the measurable Maastricht criteria, has one of the strongest budget positions in the European Union and is also one of the most trustworthy nations in the Union.
Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi stated that today’s evaluation of Estonia’s economy and finances sets the stage for joining the euro zone. “Being a part of the euro zone will make Estonia more trustworthy and give a strong boost to the Estonian economy. However, we have no illusions that a conservative financial policy will somehow become less important to us. We are pleased that in the report the European Commission gave high praise for Estonia’s choices during the crisis,” stated Ligi.
The final decision to invite Estonia to join the euro zone will be made on 13 July by the Ecofin, or Economic and Financial Affairs Council.
Launch of Tallinn-Warsaw Passenger Train Realistic Proposition
11 May (BNS) - Estonia's Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts and the European Union co-ordinator for the Rail Baltica project Pavel Telicka agreed at a meeting on Tuesday that a passenger train link between Tallinn and Warsaw could realistically be launched within the next few years.
Parts said what this takes is co-operation and will among the three Baltic states and the European Commission, spokespeople for the Ministry of Economy and Communications report.
The minister told Telicka it is necessary to focus on the rail link implementation project so that passenger train traffic on the existing rails could be launched within a few years. "At the same time, it is necessary to see to it that the distance between Tallinn and Warsaw can be covered within a reasonable length of time," he added. "Estonia has already contributed financially to this and is ready to continue doing so in the future," the minister added.
According to Parts, joint efforts are required for passenger carriage not to get stuck in red tape and technical obstacles. Telicka agreed with Estonian proposals and the issue will be brought up at the next conference of pan-European transport networks in June, the ministry said.
Estonia will together with EU support contribute close to 1.3 billion kroons (EUR 83.1 mln) to Rail Baltica in 2008-2011.
Number of Tourists in Estonian Accommodation Establishments Up in Q1
10 May (BNS) - A total of 384 000 foreign and domestic tourists stayed overnight in Estonian accommodation establishments in Q1 this year, 7% more than in the same period last year, Statistics Estonia said.
In Q1 161 000 domestic and 223 000 foreign tourists used the services of accommodation establishments. More than half the foreign tourists staying in the accommodation establishments arrived from Finland. The number of Russian tourists using services of Estonian accommodation establishments was 35 000, 51% more that in Q1 last year. Trips around New Year’s and international winter sports events were popular among Russian tourists.
Domestic tourists accounted for 42% of the clients at the country's accommodation establishments.
In March, 137 000 tourists, of these 59% foreign tourists, stayed at Estonian accommodation establishments. There were 738 accommodation establishments with 16 200 rooms and 35 300 beds at the visitors' disposal.
The room occupation rate was 32%, three percentage points more than last March. The average cost of an overnight stay was 399 kroons (EUR 25.5), 6% lower than last March.
Mihkel Poll Debuts in United States of America
11 May - Estonian Pianist Mihkel Poll gave his first performances in the United States of America on 7 May, when he gave a concert at the New York Estonian House, and 10 May, when he played in the renowned Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, DC.
The performance included works by Tubin, Pärt, Ravel, Lizt, Schubert, and Schumann. In both cities Poll played to a full house, receiving a very warm response from the public. His audiences included many famous music critics and classical music concert and festival organisers, who expressed interest in inviting Poll to perform in the USA again.
Currently Mihkel Poll is doing his post-graduate studies at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. This year he has many concerts scheduled in Estonia, as well as in Germany, Turkey, Finland and England.
Poll’s American debut was made possible thanks to the support of Eesti Muusika Eksport, the Ministry of Culture, the Foreign Ministry, the Estonian Embassy in Washington, and the New York Estonian House.
Foreign Ministry Receives Portrait of Former Honorary Consul in the Netherlands
13 May - Today Vera Assel-Stahl, the granddaughter of the Estonian honorary consul in the Netherlands before World War II Carel Frederik Marie Stahl, came to Tallinn along with current Estonian Honorary Consul in Rotterdam Jan Brouwer to present the Foreign Ministry with a portrait of former honorary consul Carel Stahl. The painting was accepted by Foreign Ministry Secretary General Marten Kokk.
Foreign Ministry Secretary General Kokk stated that the artistic value of the portrait is not its most important aspect. “This event is special because the painting we received reminds us of the long tradition of Estonian diplomacy and the close relations between Estonia and the Netherlands,” said Kokk.
Kokk noted that prior to the Second World War, relations between the two nations relied heavily on contacts based on business considerations, much as they are today. “Diplomatic and consular channels with the Netherlands opened up for the young Republic of Estonia thanks to such business contacts,” said Kokk, adding that by the beginning of the 1920s Carel Stahl was an important trader in Rotterdam whose enterprise also had ties with Estonia, as the company purchased paper pulp from here.
Stahl become the Estonian honorary consul in Holland on 30 April 1924. “Until 1926, Stahl’s working area included all of the Netherlands, since he was the only representative of Estonia in that country. Starting in 1928 Carel Stahl was the honorary consul general in the Netherlands, representing Estonia up until the pivotal year of 1940. At the time he was the longest-serving Estonian honorary consul,” Kokk elaborated.
Kokk said that our current honorary consul in Rotterdam Jan Brouwer is also dedicated to honourably representing Estonia. “It is thanks to Brouwer that this portrait of Carel Stahl is here today. In addition, Mr. Brouwer has written the book ‘Holland and Estonia’s Relations Between the Two World Wars 1918-1940’,” said Kokk.