Prime Minister Ansip: Relations Between Estonia and China Very Good
25 May (BNS) - Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and Deputy Speaker of the Chinese Parliament Jianmin Hua underlined that relations between Estonia and China are very good.
Ansip has been on visits to China on three occasions, twice as head of government and once as mayor of Tartu. "I have enjoyed every minute of my stays in China," Ansip said. Jianmin Hua is in Estonia for the second time, the government spokesman told BNS.
Ansip and Hua stated that economic relations between China and Estonia have great potential, which was also confirmed by close economic relations between entrepreneurs.
Last year China was in 16th place among Estonia's trade partners, and in2008 was in 17th place. Last year China passed Germany and became the world's biggest exporter.
China recognised the independence of Estonia on 7 September 1991 and the two countries established diplomatic relations on 11 September that year during a visit to Tallinn of Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Tian Zengpei. In 2011, 20 years will pass since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Estonia and China. In the near future Estonia will open its consulate in Shanghai and the building of the Estonian Embassy in Beijing will begin soon.
Estonia Receives Official OECD Invitation in Paris
27 May - Today, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and Minister of Finance Jürgen Ligi attended the formal accession ceremony of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). During the ceremony at OECD headquarters, Prime Minister Ansip received Estonia’s official invitation to join the organisation. Invitations to join the OECD were also extended to Israel and Slovenia.
In his speech, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said that receiving the invitation is a great honour and privilege for Estonia. “This year is very important for Estonia,” Ansip said, addressing the ministers of the OECD countries. “For a long time, Estonia has had two important policy goals: to join the OECD and become part of the euro area. Today, we can say that the first goal has been achieved, and the second one is within our reach.”
According to the prime minister, Estonia sees the OECD as a values-based forum that unites ambitious and dynamic countries. He continued by saying that Estonia shares the views of OECD members who are not content with simply maintaining the status quo.
In his speech, the prime minister also gave an overview of Estonia's economic and financial policy. He emphasised the importance of Estonia’s fixed exchange rate, strict budget policy, simple tax system, and favourable business environment. “We are confident that OECD membership will contribute to the further development of Estonia,” Ansip asserted.
After the ceremony, Minister of Finance Jürgen Ligi stated that being invited to join the OECD is an important acknowledgement of Estonia’s economic and financial policy.
“Membership will allow us to play a more active role in shaping OECD rules and recommendations on policies related to economic, budgetary, taxation and financial affairs,” said Ligi.
Today’s ceremony took place within the framework of OECD’s annual Ministerial Council Meeting. Ligi is one of the ministers participating in the discussions that are scheduled to continue tomorrow.
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip will sign the OECD accession treaty when OECD Secretary-General Ángel Gurría visits Estonia on 3 June. Estonia will become a full member of the OECD after the accession treaty is ratified by the Estonian Parliament.
Eastern Partnership States Closer to European Union Than Ever Before
24 May - At the informal meeting of the European Union and Eastern Partnership foreign ministers in Sopot, Poland, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that European Union enlargement has brought the six Eastern Partnership states closer to the European Union than they’ve ever been before.
Eastern Partnership became an official policy of the European Union in the spring of 2009. “The creation of Eastern Partnership was an important step, but unfortunately the policy has yet to receive sufficient funding, considering the importance of strategic partnerships,” Paet noted. “The funding given to Eastern Partnership should reflect its political importance for the EU,” he added.
Estonia supports taking relations between the EU and Eastern partners to the next level. “We support the concluding of free trade agreements, the expansion of visa freedom, and close practical co-operation with Eastern Partnership states in energy and infrastructure matters,” said Paet.
Paet mentioned that Estonia would like to establish an Eastern Partnership training centre to train young diplomats and other state officials from Eastern Partnership states.
The idea to create a friendship group for the third countries of Eastern Partnership was also discussed. Foreign Minister Paet said that Estonia took a supportive stance on Poland’s proposal to establish an information exchange mechanism for third countries interested in Eastern Partnership. “This sort of information exchange system could facilitate the participation of third countries in Eastern Partnership projects,” said Paet.
The foreign ministers of the European Union member states and the foreign ministers of the Neighbourhood Policy Eastern Partnership countries participated in the meeting. The Eastern Partnership partner countries are Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Belarus.
Estonia Supports European Union Visa Facilitation for Ukraine
25 May - At his meeting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Konstyantyn Gryshchenko in Sopot, Poland, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet confirmed Estonia’s support for closer co-operation and visa facilitation with the European Union for Ukraine, as well as Estonia’s interest in developing closer relations with Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Paet noted that it is necessary to reach the point of concluding an association agreement and a free trade agreement between the European Union and Ukraine. Paet stated that Estonia also supports EU-Ukraine visa facilitation to allow Ukrainian citizens easier access to EU member states. “By simplifying travel to the European Union, we will help Ukrainian society grow closer to the European Union,” said Paet.
Estonia supports all Eastern partners, including Ukraine, growing closer to the European Union within the framework of EU Eastern Partnership. Paet and Gryshchenko confirmed that relations between Estonia and Ukraine are very good and close co-operation is done in many fields. “Ukraine is one of Estonia’s foreign policy and development co-operation priority partners,” stated Foreign Minister Paet. “We hope to conclude a social security agreement with Ukraine soon and start up an intergovernmental commission,” noted Paet.
August of next year will mark 150 years since the establishment of the first Estonian village on the western coast of Crimea in Beregov.
Paet is First Estonian Foreign Minister to Meet with Foreign Ministers of Cambodia and Laos
27 May - Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met with the foreign ministers of Singapore, Cambodia and Laos while in Madrid.
With Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet discussed the possibility of enforcing visa-free travel for Estonian citizens. “Visa freedom would help to promote tourism as well as business contacts,” stated Paet.
Estonia would like to find an honorary consul in Laos. “Expanding our network of honorary consuls is important because honorary consuls help to intensify relations between countries in the areas of economy, culture, education and tourism. Honorary consuls also provide consular aid to Estonian citizens when necessary,” said the foreign minister. The foreign minister of Laos was also interested in Estonia’s IT experience.
At his meeting with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, Foreign Minister Paet stated that Estonia is interested in intensifying ties with Cambodia. “First of all we should find opportunities for closer economic contacts. Currently there are a few Estonian entrepreneurs working in Cambodia, for example in the tourism industry,” said Foreign Minister Paet. “One area of interest for co-operation is tourism, which is an important economic sector for both Estonia and Cambodia,” he added.
The Estonian foreign minister also suggested that his Cambodian colleague consider the possibility of exempting Estonian citizens from visa requirements.
While talking about co-operation in international organisations, Foreign Minister Paet told his Cambodian and Laotian colleagues about Estonia’s plans to be a candidate for the UN Human Rights Council in 2012 and the UN Security Council in 2020.
This was the first time in history that an Estonian foreign minister has met with the foreign ministers of Cambodia and Laos.
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet also met with Foreign Minister of Singapore George Yong-Boon Yeo. Singapore is Estonia’s most important trade partner in Southeast Asia and has for years been among the top ten nations investing in Estonia. Paet stated that it is necessary to upgrade economic agreements between Estonia and Singapore.
Estonia Contributes to Fight Against Climate Change
22 May - Foreign Minister Urmas Paet gave a speech on the effects of climate change and Estonia’s aid to developing nations at the World Day event on Vabaduse Square.
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that climate change affects the lives of many people in the world—frequently those of the impoverished, especially women and children. “The lack of food and fresh water due to floods and more frequent droughts and storms has a negative effect on, for example, education opportunities, health, safety, and productivity,” stated Paet. “The effects of climate change fuel the fight for existing resources in both developing nations and those across the border, destroying societies, bringing about immigration, and destabilising the security situation of the whole world,” asserted Foreign Minister Paet.
Foreign Minister Paet added that Estonia has consistently helped developing nations come to terms with climate change. Paet noted that everyone has a moral obligation to support those that are less secure economically and socially. “The difficult situation in developing countries also affects Estonia and Europe as a whole. One example is the tremendous pressure immigration from impoverished countries places on Europe, or the violence and terrorism that stem from poverty and desperation,” said the foreign minister.
Foreign Minister Paet stated that Estonia actively helps those populations that have been struck by a natural or manmade disaster. “We all remember Haiti as a recent disaster, during which more than 222 000 people were killed and over 1.2 residents were left homeless. Estonian rescuers are in Haiti helping the people until the end of September,” stated Foreign Minister Paet.
The Foreign Ministry’s budget includes 44 million kroons allocated for development co-operation and humanitarian aid. The European Union is the biggest donor in the world.
World Day, a family event that is taking place for the sixth time this year, has the goal of increasing awareness of development co-operation and global problems and giving an overview of the activities of the Estonian state and NGOs in these fields. The main theme of World Day this year is global climate change and how it is tied to our everyday life. Within the framework of World Day, various organisations from Estonia and abroad will introduce their activities, workshops and discussion groups will take place, opinion leaders and experts in the development co-operation field will speak, world music will be performed on the main stage, and films will be screened.
At 13.00 today Foreign Minister Urmas Paet will introduce a lecture by Oxford University economics professor and director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies Paul Collier. At 15.00 the unveiling of the Estonian-language translation of Collier’s book “The Bottom Billion” will take place.
Chairman of Riigikogu EU Affairs Commission to Speak at Seminar in Washington
21 May - Chairman of the Riigikogu European Union Affairs Commission Marko Mihkelson will be on a visit in the United States of America from 19-22 May.
On 20 May, Mihkelson met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the US State Department Pamela Quanrud, with whom he discussed a wide variety of topics. The main focus was on bilateral relations, the situation in the euro zone, relations with Eastern Partnership states and Russia, and the future of NATO.
On Friday Mihkelson will participate in a seminar at the Woodrow Wilson Centre entitled “The Evolution of NATO: The 2010 Strategic Concept and Beyond” as part of a panel on the new security challenges the alliance faces. The main subject of Mihkelson’s speech is cyber security and how to manage the challenges involved with this area.
Other presenters at the seminar include former US Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker and Latvian Ambassador to NATO Janis Eichmanis. The keynote speaker of the event is former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who led the group of experts that formed the principles for NATO’s new Strategic Concept. The seminar was organised in co-operation with the Joint Baltic American National Committee.
Ambassador to Monaco Presents Credentials
21 May - Estonian Ambassador to the Principality of Monaco Margus Rava presented his credentials to Prince Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi. In the discussion following the ceremony, Estonian Ambassador Rava and Prince of Monaco Albert II talked about economic developments in Estonia and Monaco. Ambassador Rava introduced Estonia’s plan for joining the euro zone to the prince of Monaco. “Hopefully Estonia and Monaco will soon be in the same currency space,” the ambassador stated.
Rava said that economic co-operation between Estonia and Monaco has seen positive developments. In 2008, on Monaco’s initiative, a roundtable took place that introduced the Estonian business environment to entrepreneurs in Monaco. Rava expressed hope that the opening of a direct flight between Tallinn and Nizza would give momentum to the development of tourism and economic contacts.
The Estonian ambassador also talked about Estonia’s candidacy to be an observer country in the International Organisation of the Francophonie. “We feel it is important for international integration to be as close as possible; this include contacts with countries in the French cultural space,” said Rava.
Ambassador Rava and Prince Albert II agreed that Estonia and Monaco have good co-operation opportunities in the environmental protection field bilaterally as well as within the framework of international organisations.
Margus Rava was born in Tallinn in 1964. He graduated from the electrical engineering department of the Tallinn Polytechnic Institute in 1989 and from the Estonian School of Diplomacy in 1992. Ambassador Rava has been involved in diplomatic work since 1991, when he began working in the Foreign Ministry press and information department. From 1994-1997 Margus Rava worked in the Estonian Embassy in Riga, and from 2000-2002 in the embassy in London. From 2002-2006 Margus Rava was the director general of the Foreign Ministry’s external economic and development co-operation department. Rava has been the Estonian Ambassador to France since 2006. Rava is also the permanent representative of the Republic of Estonia to UNESCO.
First Aid Kits Sent to Helmand Province, Afghanistan
27 May - Within the framework of a development co-operation project funded by the Foreign Ministry, the NPO Mondo and the Estonian Defence Forces sent 1 500 first aid kits to Afghanistan, which are meant to be given to women in Helmand Province who complete first aid training. Sending the first aid kits is part of the development co-operation project that has the goal of launching first aid training for adults in Helmand Province. The first aid kits contain household medical supplies, including dressing materials and supplies for cleaning and closing wounds.
Foreign Minister Paet stated that it is important to give attention to the capability of local residents to care for their own health and the health of their families. “Many health problems that are widespread in developing nations can be lessened or prevented entirely by basic practices that are commonplace for us, like washing hands and cleaning wounds,” said Paet. “Establishing a first aid training network aimed primarily towards women will help to increase the health-related knowledge of the population and also include women more in community life,” he added.
Anu Raisma, the Estonian health care expert working in Helmand Province, said that by now the first midwives have received training through the project and are teaching first aid in the women’s centre in the city of Lashkar Gah´. “The interest in the first aid courses has been tremendous, because in a situation where it’s difficult to get medical attention, knowledge of first aid and practical skills are extremely important,” said Raisma. “In addition to first aid kits specially made for homes, those who complete the training will also receive first aid manuals in Pashto,” Raisma stated.
The goal of the two-year training project is to find, with the help of Estonian health care expert Anu Raisma, female doctors and people from local women’s organisations to implement the project, organise training for the instructors and start up the courses. “With first aid training courses in health care establishments and women’s centres, we hope to create a network through which local women can pass the knowledge and skills they’ve learned onto others,” Raisma explained. “The project also offers an opportunity to improve the health and living conditions of the residents of the province and spread knowledge of first aid to communities where access to medical care is practically nonexistent,” said Raisma.
Mission of Baltic Rescuers in Poland Flood Relief Operation Extended
26 May (BNS) - The mission of the BaltFloodCombat rescue unit of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in flood-stricken areas of Poland has been extended and the Estonian rescuers will return at the end of next week.
The mission of the Baltic unit was extended by six days and the rescuers will end their work on the evening of 3 June. The Estonians are due back home by the evening of 5 June, spokespeople for the Rescue Board in Tallinn said.
The Baltic rescuers continue working in the area of the small town of Polaniec near the Polish capital Warsaw, pumping water. Estonians and Latvians are working at the local pumping station while the Lithuanians are pumping water in a nearby village.
The water level in the area is getting significantly lower, the spokespeople added.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania last week sent the joint rescue unit BaltFloodCombat to the Polish flood area. The rescue unit has 19 members, of these nine from Estonia. Seven rescue experts, an IT specialist and a medic from Estonia went to help Poland. The rescuers took three powerful pumps with them to Southern Poland.
President Receives Credentials of Ambassadors of Thailand, Iran
27 May - President Toomas Hendrik Ilves met today in Kadriorg with the ambassadors of the Kingdom of Thailand and of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who presented their credentials to the Estonian head of state.
Credentials were presented by Ambassador of Thailand Thanarat Thanaputti, who resides in Stockholm, and Ambassador of Iran Seyed Rasoul Mousavi, who resides in Helsinki.
Estonian Capital Becomes Founding Member of Intelligent Community Association
21 May (BNS) - In New York on Wednesday, a representative of the Estonian capital Tallinn signed the founding treaty of the Intelligent Community Association (ICA), a body that seeks to co-ordinate co-operation between innovative and successful communities worldwide. The ICA is a nonprofit organisation that promotes the achievements of successful communities throughout the world, advances research programmes, and attempts to ensure the best opportunities for information technology, and innovative and dynamic development.
In 2007 the Intelligent Communities Forum picked Tallinn as belonging to the top seven most intelligent communities in the world from among 300 candidates. Tallinn has earned the same recognition four years running, while in each year the number of candidates has increased. The decision about this year's most intelligent community will be made in New York late on Friday Estonian time.
Tallinn is represented at the Intelligent Communities Forum, the theme of which this year revolves around development of local talent and how to keep it, by City Secretary Toomas Sepp.
Tallinn to Be Capital of European Law in 2012
21 May (BNS) - A conference of the International Federation for European Law (FIDE) will take place in Estonia in 2012, and in connection with this Tallinn will serve as the capital of European law for that year.
Julia Laffranque, president of FIDE Estonia, said that Estonia will be the first country from Eastern Europe to host the conference. The event, held every two years, brings together more than 500 lawyers from all over the world.
The conference that presumably will take place in Tallinn at the end of May or in early June 2012 is expected to focus on three topics: the protection of human rights in Europe; relations between energy, environment and competition policy in the EU; and legal aspects of the information society in Europe based on freedom, security and law.
A year earlier, at the end of May 2011, a high-level delegation made up of national FIDE presidents will come to Estonia to look at preparations for the conference.
Laffranque added that the idea to choose capitals of European law in addition to European capitals of culture and green capitals emerged in the course of preparations for the conference. Tallinn will be the first city to bear this title.
Estonia Invests EUR 2.9 Mln in Programme for Completing Higher Education
25 May (BNS) - The Estonian government is planning to invest 75 million kroons (EUR 2.9 mln) of resources from the European Social Fund into the TULE (Come) programme of continuing university studies for those who have left them unfinished. On Tuesday Minister of Education and Research Tõnis Lukas endorsed the TULE action plan for 2010 and the budget of the programme until the year 2015.
"Currently, when there is little room on the labour market, is the best time to study. We decided to channel funds to support continuing studies because there are regrettably many young people who have interrupted their studies," Lukas said.
The budget of the TULE program for 2010 is nearly three million kroons, and next year 27 million kroons. Until the year 2013 continuation of studies will be supported with more than 20 million kroons every year.
So far this year 445 applicants have continued their studies, and in the full four years there are plans to support the continuation of studies at higher education institutions for at least 800 young people. With the assistance of the TULE program it will be possible for those who have interrupted their studies in the school years 2003/2004 through 2008/2009 and have still to cover less than half of the syllabus to continue their higher education studies free of charge.
"Raising one's qualifications is the best way to prepare oneself for a new rise in the economy and provoke it themselves. So it will be possible for everyone to get interesting and well-paid work in the near future," Lukas said. Thirteen higher educational establishments have acceded to the TULE program.
World Conference of Technology Parks to be Held in Estonia in 2012
25 May (BNS) - At the conference of the International Association of Science Parks (IASP) in Daejon, South Korea on Tuesday, members chose the Tehnopol technology park of the Estonian capital Tallinn as the venue for the IASP conference in 2012. The second choice for host of the 2012 event was the JSC Technology Park of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Tehnopol said.
The 2012 conference is expected to bring together the leaders of 800 science parks worldwide. With nearly 400 members in 70 countries, IASP is a worldwide network of science and technology parks. Tehnopol has been a member of IASP since 2003.
Tehnopol is a science and business environment for knowledge based companies located next to the Tallinn University of Technology and the Estonian IT College. More than 150 businesses are active in Tehnopol at this point.
Partners Notice Estonia’s Contributions
21 May - Foreign Minister Paet, when speaking at the Senior Courses in National Defence today, noted that Estonia’s foreign and security policy contributions are noticed by our partners and by a wider circle of others. “Estonia’s activities in development co-operation, the humanitarian field, and building up Afghanistan, as well as our role as a partner in NATO, are recognised by international aid organisations like the World Bank as well as partner states,” stated Paet.
Paet stated that the Foreign Ministry feels it is positive that Estonia’s foreign and security policy views are moving with the times and expanding. “The goal of Estonian security policy comes from the constitution: to ensure the Estonian state’s independence and autonomy, territorial integrity, constitutional order, and the safety of the people, but in order to achieve this we must act on a wider scale than traditional security factors may indicate. The security sector is constantly becoming more tied to energy and cyber security. In addition, the activity and participation of civil society, coherence in society, public health, environmental security, and psychological protection are all becoming more important in security policy,” said Paet. “The concept for the national security policy, which was prepared by the Foreign Ministry and approved in Riigikogu a week ago, takes into account all of the factors that affect our national security, regardless of where or how they are created,” explained the Estonian foreign minister.
In the course of the XXII Senior Courses in National Defence taking place this week, the attendees will receive a thorough overview of Estonia’s foreign, security and defence policy, the organisation of national defence and its legislative environment, international defence-related co-operation, Estonia’s defence investments, domestic security, and the various spheres of life related to national defence.
More Trainings with NATO Allies Planned for Coming Years
27 May (BNS) - There will be joint trainings with NATO allies in the Baltic countries in the coming years, commander of the Estonian Defence Forces Lt. Gen. Ants Laaneots said at a press conference on Thursday. "There will be trainings, that I guarantee," the defence chief said, appearing before reporters together with Defence Minister Jaak Aaviksoo to speak about the major exercises of the defence forces in 2010.
Laaneots wouldn't specify what kind of exercises were being planned, but said the international exercises taking place in the Baltic countries this year will start to be held in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by rotation. Aaviksoo said that the holding of international exercises in the Baltic countries, which defence-wise are viewed as a single region, is important since it happens simultaneously with an overall deepening of NATO defence co-operation.
He said that since other ministries and their subordinate agencies were also involved in the exercises, the events were not just military exercises of the Defence Forces but exercises in national defence capacity.
The defence minister observed that in comparison with the military exercises Zapad and Ladoga held by Russia in its border areas the exercises taking place in the Baltics this year were about ten times smaller.
The purpose of the joint exercises is to boost the military visibility of NATO military allies in the Baltic countries, increase defence co-operation between the Baltic countries and develop cooperation with allied nations, said Lt. Gen. Laaneots.
The first of the international military exercises due this year is Baltic Host, an exercise of the three Baltic countries and the US European Command in the course of which reception of allied forces will be trained in Latvia in the period from 31 May to 4 June, military spokespeople have previously said. From 6-20 June the naval exercise Baltops will be held, which will see US Marines train landing in the Loksa Bay area on Estonia's northern coast and an exercise in co-operation held at the Estonian military's central training ground. From 18-31 October the joint Baltic-US ground forces exercise Saber Strike will be held in Latvia. Estonia will send a company-sized unit to that event.
Gen. Carter Ham, commander of US ground forces in Europe, said in November last year that a major joint training of the Estonian and US forces is planned for 2012.
25 Percent More Companies Established in Q1 Than Last Year
27 May (BNS) - SEB Pank said that in the period from January to April, 3 209 new public or limited companies were established, 25% more than in the same period in 2009. Allan Parik, head of corporate banking division at SEB Pank, said that the areas of operation of the new companies that had opened accounts in the bank were varied, but more than before businessmen had indicated personal and other business services as their sphere of operations.
"Building and decoration, wholesale and retail sale, which have also dominated in previous periods, follow," Parik said. He said that about 6% of the new companies that had opened their accounts in SEB had mentioned industrial production as their field of activity, in the same range with statistics for 2007.
About 3 000 public and private shareholding companies a year start operations as SEB Pank clients.
Russian Bus Company to Open Charter Line to Estonian Spas
26 May (BNS) - Baltic Shuttle, a St. Petersburg bus company, will open charter lines to Estonian spas, the Valgamaa Arenguagentuur (Valga County Development Agency) foundation said. The routes run from St. Petersburg via Võsu and Loksa to Tallinn, to Narva-Jõesuu, to Pärnu via Rakvere and Tallinn, and to Värska via Otepää and Võru.
Initially the tickets and packages that are intended for St. Petersburg holiday-makers can be bought through Russian tour organisers.
The services will be run in co-operation between the bus companies Baltic Shuttle and Ecolines as well as Russian tour organisers and the Estonian consulate. The trip from St. Petersburg to Otepää, for example, will take 7.5 hours. The first test trips will take place at the end of June.
Alcohol Production Up Nearly 5 Percent Last Year
21 May (BNS) - According to the Estonian Institute of Economic Research (EKI), 18.15 million liters of strong alcohol was produced in Estonia last year, 4.9% more than in 2008. In the EKI's opinion the reason for the growth in strong alcohol production was above all the amounts produced ahead of the rise in the alcohol excise that came into effect on 1 January this year. According to the EKI, at least 0.9 million liters of alcohol was produced to avoid paying the higher excise rate.
The amount of beer produced in Estonia last year totalled 123 million liters, 3% less on year. The biggest fall, by 26%, was in the category of weak alcoholic beverages. EKI said that the reason was a smaller amount sold both on the domestic and foreign markets. Production of fruit and berry wine fell 13% in 2009 compared with the year before.
According to the EKI, the average price of the most popular domestic alcoholic beverages rose in stores, but at a significantly slower pace than a year before.