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Estonian report Estonian report
by Euro Reporter
2010-01-06 10:34:08
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10 biggest failures

1. Freedom War Monument: The fiasco that surrounded the building of such a worthy monument was hugely embarrassing for Estonia. Everything started when bureaucrats decided to ignore the opinion of the art community. The outcome of the project: lamps are not burning; glass panels are badly installed, etc.

2. Solaris Centre: In short - it's ugly, it's too compact and it's dangerous. Brothers Rebane and their friends in Centre Party did their best to build the complex in spite of protests from the residents. Now, instead of the so-called Karla Cathedral (named after Karl Vaino, the infamous head of the Estonian Communist Party) we have the Nokia Concert Hall and art film centre Artemis that is accessed through the fire escape exit. After the ceiling of the Cinamon cinema hall collapsed, there is joke that suicidal people no longer have to drive down the Türisalu cliff near Tallinn - all they have to do is to buy a ticket to a movie night in Cinamon.

Suspicious campaigns of Tallinn financed with taxpayer money: The list of such city-sponsored events is endless: first, 400,000 kroons to Peeter Võsa, member of Centre Party, for making a documentary that went over deadline and has been seen by about twenty people. Secondly, financing of the book of controversial bloggers Inno and Irja Tähismaa that includes a slandering poem about Jüri Pihl, leader of Social Democrats. Third, handing out potatoes and firewood to poor residents just before the local elections. Potatoes started to rot and the firewood pile was an illusion.

Bus attendants and other social jobs created by City of Tallinn: This is deeply humiliating for normal people. One could understand if non-violent criminals were punished by being forced to ride in the public transport in neon vests with the sentence on their back.

5. Jüri Pihl becoming the leader of Social Democrats: Everything went well until former leader of Social Democrats Ivari Padar was elected into the Euro parliament. He left reigns in the hands of Pihl who first went into coalition with Centre Party in Tallinn City Council and then filed a report to the security police in which he suspected PM Andrus Ansip and others of treason. In a few months Pihl has destroyed the unity of Social Democrats and brought their popularity to zero.

6. Freezing state contributions into second pillar pension funds: The big sacrifice of the minority coalition of the Reform Party and IRL to the euro altar. Outcome? Nobody knows what will happen with their voluntary pension in the future.

Visa scandal of Reform Party cabinet ministers Andrus Ansip, Rein Lang and Urmas Paet: the lifting of the visa ban of Russian politician Markov by the Estonian government was entirely uncoordinated. It seems likely that the state secret requirement was violated by justice minister Rein Lang himself. Not that he would lose any sleep over it.

8. Attempts of justice minister Rein Lang to restrict press freedom: For his activities, Estonian Press Association named Lang the enemy of the press 2009. Lang's motto seems to be that what is allowed to him is not allowed to the press. He may be advocating individual rights, but only when it concerns civil servants. He is also a firebrand defender of state secrets, but makes plenty of exceptions for himself.

9. Attempts of financial institutions to let investors pay for their bad investments: The first to be caught was SEB with its Liquidity Fund, followed by Swedbank's bond fund. The interference of the Financial Supervisory Authority helped to recover some of the money for investors. However, in case of investments made through GILD Bankers, FSA is sending the message that rich investors should bite the bullet.

10. First Lady and her big mouth: First, after Liis Lass crashed the presidential ball, Evelin Ilves expressed the opinion that private media channels should be banned from the event. In April, she said in public that Estonian medical doctors were too fat and in the autumn called Kalev candies "crap". She later retracted her words and caused even a bigger media scandal.


All soldiers will eat the same!

The ministry explained in its statement that the reduction would help the army to save some 30,000 Euros (about $43,200) annually. It also said that expert analysis had proven that the usual supplies were sufficient for soldiers of all heights.

Estonia was badly hit by the global economic crisis this year, even forcing the Baltic state to sell the residence of its ambassador in London due to budget cuts. The former Soviet republic is providing up to 170 troops in support of units of the British 19th Infantry Brigade in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).


The richest girl in Estonia

As far as Communist dissenters go, Carmen Kass has a better figure than Lech Walesa and has been on more Vogue covers than Vaclav Havel. But when she added her voice to 300,000 others in Estonia's ''Singing Revolution,'' and joined hands across three countries in the ''Baltic Chain,'' she became part of the resistance that led to freedom for her homeland. As far as revolutions go, Estonia's was polite. But had it involved intrigue and cursing and prodigious vodka consumption, Kass could have been an important part of that, too. Had it been fought on cell phones, as the recipients of her spicy diatribes could attest, she could have been a valuable insurgent. And had it been an arms race, she could have been a valuable asset. She is, as she likes to say, the richest girl in Estonia.

Kass is famous in the modelling trade for making that intentionally ironic declaration after she's had a few; for her flashy watch, which, as anyone who's ever waited for her knows, doesn't work; and for actually driving herself across Europe to modelling jobs. (As Michael Kors smirks, ''She must drink a strong cup of joe!'') Several times a night, Kass makes a liar of P.G. Wodehouse, who once said, ''Speak civilly to blondes and they will speak civilly to you.''  Just as Cindy Crawford parlayed a pretty face into Cindy Inc. with her mole as a logo seven years ago, Kass is working to develop some trademarks of her own in the business. As a part owner of Baltic Models in Estonia's capital, Tallinn, and as one of the country's most celebrated exports, Kass has been recognized internationally for her beauty. But locally, among family and friends, it's her toughness that is most commented on. Maybe commenting on her beauty is just too obvious.

Like Estonia itself, midway between Stockholm and St. Petersburg, Kass has the glow of one culture and the steel jaw of another.

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