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Estonian report Estonian report
by Euro Reporter
2014-08-23 10:34:52
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Estonia says Finland, Russia meeting could undermine EU unity

Estonia's Foreign Minister Urmas Paet has criticized a meeting between Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying it could undermine EU unity. "I think it is better if the interaction with Russia is centralized in the EU," said Paet to Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat. He noted that it is difficult for the EU to pursue a common foreign policy, when member states hold bilateral talks with Russia and act on the basis of different information.

"The situation is better from Russia's point of view, when it speaks separately with each EU member state, and as little as possible with the EU," Paet said. The significance of the meeting of Niinisto and Putin can be evaluated only when its result is known, said the Estonian foreign minister, public broadcasting reports. Paet knew about Niinisto and Putin's meeting in advance since the Finnish president had called the president of Estonia to inform him about it.

Paet recalled that in the spring, the EU member states agreed to freeze high-level meetings with Russia. Niinisto is not the only one who has since met with Putin. Putin visited Austria and France for the Normandy landing anniversary celebrations. "Some state leaders are calling Putin every night," said Paet. "Unfortunately, I do not see results. What has been achieved?"

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Estonia is trapped

As a country, Estonia is trapped in the group of medium-income countries where only a few have managed to break out, said ex-banker Indrek Neivelt at the Opinion Festival held last weekend in Paide, writes Äripäev. Naively said that instead of continuing to offer cheap subcontracting services such as assembling wire harnesses, Estonia should find ways to support its own strong companies, make sure that they keep their head offices in Estonia, invest in infrastructure and support domestic market.

“Forget about GDP, it’s a hoax. Instead of talking about GDP we must focus on average income. GDP figures also include profits earned by foreign capital, but they don’t share it with us,” he said, adding that Europe’s attempts to change the methodology of calculating GDP were strange, especially since it would include drug trafficking and prostitution.

“Estonia is in the group of medium-income countries and this not a bad place to be, but it’s very difficult to break out of it,” said naively, adding that most people want to live better. “But if you add them if they want changes, most say no. If we want to improve our living we need to make things differently. Doing the same work for another ten years is not going to make us richer,” he concluded.

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Estonia slams Switzerland for not imposing sanctions on Russia

Switzerland is acting in its own self-interest by not imposing its own sanctions against Russia over Ukraine and gaining an advantage for its banking sector, Estonia's president said an interview with a Swiss newspaper published on Sunday. Last week, Switzerland extended measures to ensure it does not serve as a route to bypass European Union sanctions, but has decided against imposing its own sanctions to punish Russia for annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula or its support for rebels in eastern Ukraine. The country, current chair of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe, has cited a need to stay neutral so as not to endanger its role as mediator between the two sides in the conflict.

But critics say Switzerland, a popular destination for many rich Russians and a centre for their banking and trading activities, is more interested in preserving its role as a global commodities hub that earns revenue from trade with Russia. "Switzerland must live with the criticism that they have only dispensed with their own sanctions to gain an advantage for its banking sector," Estonia's President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said in an interview with the SonntagsZeitung paper. As a non-EU member, Switzerland is under no obligation to impose the full sanctions package, although some of the EU measures will apply in Switzerland because it is a member of the 28-nation bloc's passport-free Schengen travel zone. Hendrik Ilves did not say whether EU member Estonia, which borders Russia, or the wider bloc were planning to increase pressure on Switzerland to act.

Switzerland's government will hold its first cabinet meeting following a summer break on Wednesday and is expected to deliberate on measures against Russia, although some politicians have said it should stick to its current policy. Around 75 percent of Russian crude oil exports are traded through Geneva, according to the Swiss government, and Russian assets in Swiss banks stood at nearly 13.8 billion francs ($15.2 billion) in 2012, according to the Swiss National Bank. Germany's Foreign Ministry said at the end of July it wanted wider cooperation to pressure Russia for its support of separatists in Ukraine, adding that it had been in talks with non-EU countries such as Switzerland and Turkey. Hendrik Ilves said other countries who say they are neutral, such as Sweden and Ireland, have supported the sanctions: "The concept of neutrality is for me as empty today as ever before," he said. Both Sweden and Ireland are members of the EU.


         
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Emanuel Paparella2014-08-23 16:21:04
It would appear from the above that the Estonian know Putin and the KBG mind-set a little better than the Finns, which is a bit surprising considering the treatment by Stalin they received during World War II. Nietzsche had it right: we remember only what we wish to remember!


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