M. Makarevych, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine in Estonian Republic, answers the questions of our correspondent Volodymyr Muzyka

* * *

Q: The Independence Day is the most important national holiday in Estonia, isn't it?

A.: Indeed, this past February, 24 Estonia celebrated its 86th anniversary of independence. In order to fully understand the meaning of this date for subsequent history of Estonia, let us just consider a few facts that had brought this event about.

In October 1917 Bolsheviks seized power in Russia and in January next year Estonia took reasonable steps bearing on its future. The WWI was coming to an end, Germany found itself on the verge of defeat, and the delegation went to Petrograd to meet there with the ambassadors of Great Britain, France and the United States of America in order to inform western powers about desire of Estonians to gain independence, which meant quitting the Russia. And as far as the German occupation was becoming a reality, they made a seemingly dead-end decision to proclaim Estonia independent and strive for its recognition by western states.

On February 23, from the balcony of Piarnu Theater "Endla" the Manifest was read out about the independence of Estonia edited by the Salvation Committee which, actually, proclaimed Estonia an independent democratic republic. The next day the Committee members Constantin Pyats, Yuri Vilms and Constantin Conic formed the Provisional Government and appointed Constantin Pyats the prime minister. There and then the Manifest was officially read

стр. 57


out about independence. The new state-Estonian Republic-appeared on the map of Europe. Revel-the old name of Tallinn-met the morning of February 25 with pealing, dark blue-black-white national tricolor, divine services in temples and solemn meetings at schools. The last Russian warships left the harbor.

However, the same day the German troops entered the city. They acknowledged neither the independence of Estonia, nor the Provisional government of the republic. Many Estonian politicians were taken prisoners and sent to the camps. These prisoners included prime minister of the Provisional Government Constantin Pyats. During the first days of occupation over 200 persons were executed.

Although it was a short-lived Estonian independence, the events of February 24, 1918 allowed later on establishing Estonia as an independent state up to 1940.

After 86 years and many hardships Estonia has been admitted to the EU. On August 20 Estonia will celebrate the thirteenth anniversary of the renewal of independence.

Q.: There is the government program "Integration into the Estonian society". What is it about and what is its efficacy?

A.: The government integration program was implemented in 2000. Within the framework of various projects millions of crowns were spent on it.

According to Estonian officials, this program helped to make considerable progress in all three basic directions of integration: linguistic, legal, and socio-economic.

In opinion of official Tallinn, the defeat of ethnic Russian parties during the 2003 parliamentary elections and their gradual vanishing from the political arena is a vivid example of legal and political integration of non-Estonians. On the other hand, it proves that the Russian-speaking population began to trust Estonian politicians and state on the whole.

The linguistic integration has been a success as well. The programs of linguistic immersion have been especially good at it.

Q.: Unlike Ukraine, the government staffers in the country of your stay change very rarely. Why?

A.: I cannot agree with you: the dynamics of government changes in Estonia is about the same, while reasons are different. The thing is, the Estonian government is formed by parties, which have won the elections to the highest legislative body-the Riigikogu of Estonian Republic-and if it fails to fulfill its program it steps down.

As a result of such elections to the highest legislative body of Estonian Republic Riigicogu in March 2003 three political parties-Res Publica, People's Union and Reform Party-formed the ruling coalition, which created the coalition government headed by Juhan Parts, Res Publica leader.

Q.: What is the gist of modern economic policy of Estonia? It is becoming estranged from Russia with simultaneous chumming with German, or are there any other nuances?

A.: Estonian economic success is based on hard currency, liberal foreign trade,

стр. 58


liquidation of state subsidies, price liberalization, rapid privatization and effective bankruptcy legislation. As a result Estonia has quickly restructured economy and reached a high level of direct investments. Estonian economic reforms are considered the most successful among the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

From the onset of independence Estonia chose a liberal economic model, open for the world market and foreign investments. For example, if in Lithuania the state held privatization in check for a considerable time, especially big enterprises, Estonia initiated the systematic sale of state firms still in the early 90s. The privatization was conducted so quickly, that already in 1997 about 70% of enterprises went private. Presently the public owns only Narva power stations incorporated into the public electric power Esti Energy Co., Tallinn Sadam Harbor Assoc., shale extraction Esti Polevcivi Co., and a few middle and small enterprises.

At the legislative level Estonia never drew distinction between local and foreign capital. However, foreigners always had a very important advantage: big money. With attractive investment climate, the country not only managed to quickly get huge foreign investments, but stimulated Estonian business as well.

In 1998 Estonia hiked its economy. There were three reasons to it founding the new era. In 1997 Estonia began its negotiations with Brussels about the admittance to the EU which improved its rating for foreign businesspersons. After merging frenzy, a number of Estonian banks and publishing concerns gained weight and became attractive for international companies. At the same time the market of capitals ran low due to the exchange crisis in 1997 that in the fall 1998 was deepened by the collapse of Russian economy, which hit Estonia. Foreign investors, mostly Swedes, sold short buying up shares of leading banks, newspapers and some major concerns; they salvaged Estonian economy with their heavy investments. At the same time, they began to control Estonian big business.

Foreign investments made hundreds of millions; however, only the existing enterprises benefited from it. Understanding that privatization resource will soon come to an end, the Estonian administration with the purpose of stimulation of development of existing firms and creation of new ones resorted to revolutionary step and from January 2000 abolished taxation of the reinvested income. It triggered the new investment boom.

Estonia did not choose the tactics of estrangement from Russia. Such tactics was provoked by Russia introducing double taxation in foreign trade which forced Estonia to search for trade partners in the west.

Understanding the inevitability of the admittance of Estonia to the EU, in 2003 Russian investors fussed about stepping into the Estonian market.

Q.: Estonians seem to control mafia and racket. Is it true?

A.: The dictionary determines "mafia" as a "criminal organization using violence and corruption". In this sense mafia has considerable physical, moral and financial resources and can effectively interfere in political life and influence political decisions. The minister for internal affairs of Estonia believes that there is no

стр. 59


such mafia in the country.

Q.: Is Ukraine included into the top ten best ex/imp trade partners of Estonia?

A.: Yes, it's my pleasure to tell, that according to Derzhcomstat of Ukraine the 2003 commodity turnover between Ukraine and Estonia increased from $148.4 to 431.9m against the data for 2002. Ukraine is the seventh best trade partner of Estonia.

Q.: In the Ukraine and Estonia actively cooperated in the sphere of reforms. What about now?

A.: Such cooperation is active today as well. Estonia gives effective practical support to Ukraine on its way to European integration and helps to tackle socio-economic problems of our state. Estonia initiated and promoted Estonian-Ukrainian seminars on Eurointegration. From 2000 till July 2004 24 such seminars took place with participation of 100 specialists from Ukraine; two seminars were about WTO (June 2001 and November 2003).

From March 29 to April 5, 2004 the Tallinn seminar was organized by the Academy of electronic management intended for specialists from Ukraine. 16 representatives of different ministries and departments of Ukraine took part in it.

On September 18 2003, in Kyiv, the Memorandum was signed on cooperation between the Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine and Estonian School of Diplomacy; in October 2003 for two weeks 19 young diplomats worked on probation in Tallinn studying Euro - and Euroatlantic integration. From May 17 to 28, 2004 nine young Estonian experts from the Estonian School of Diplomacy were trained in Kyiv. The scheduling of Tallinn seminars is under consideration now (probably October 17-29, 2004).

Q.: What is about Ukrainian-Estonian Free Trade Agreement in connection with the admittance of Estonia to the EU? What are possible pro and contra for Ukraine?

A.: The agreement was nullified as of May 1. Sure, the commodity turnover may slump. But we cannot forecast losses now.

I want to quote minister for foreign affairs of Estonian Republic Kristiina Oyuland, which gave interview to the Dzerkalo Tyzhnia Weekly during her official visit to Ukraine; she expressed her conviction that the entry of Estonia into the EU will have no adverse effect for the development of our cooperation. Instead, it may enliven it. "Both economic relations, and cultural exchange will be toned up: through "Estonian door" Ukraine will be able to enter the European Union and establish business contacts with this powerful union with the help of Estonians. "

Q.: In its relations with Estonia Ukraine will transform from the trade market into the servicing market, or won't it?

A.: Certainly, not. As I have already told, there is a serious trade dialog underway, where both Ukraine and Estonia are engaged in talks as equals.

Q.: Which Estonian enterprises invest into the economy of Ukraine, how

стр. 60


many of them, what is their scope of activity, and concrete addresses of investments?

A.: There is an uptrend in investment cooperation. The volume of Estonian investments into economy of Ukraine grew from $15,028 thousand to $17,408 thousand in 2003.

The pattern of investments is as follows: wholesale, chemical and petrochemical industry, pulp and paper industry and publishing business, transport vehicles & repair, food industry and processing of agricultural produce.

73 Ukrainian enterprises, including 30 joint ventures, got Estonian investments.

Estonia is the 38th in the list of 114 direct investors into the economy of Ukraine.

Q.: The commodity turnover between our countries topped in 1998. Why? What is the timing of new highs?

A.: The 1998 commodity turnover totaled $157.5m and in 2003 it was higher. The reduction in 1999 was caused by financial crisis in Russia. I hope that 2004 drop will be insignificant.

Q.: What is the structure of Estonian export into Ukraine, and what are the sources of import from Ukraine?

A.: According to the Derzhcomstat of Ukraine, in 2003 the top exporters were tanks and road-building equipment (50.85%) followed by fabricated metal products (30.48%). And Estonia exports to Ukraine meat and fish prepared food products (12.78 %), fish and crustaceans (11.82 %), power materials, oil and refinery substances (10.66%), glass and glassware (3.31%), furniture (3.19%), textile clothes (3.01%), and alcoholic and soft drinks (2.11%).

Q.: What is the tourist statistics for two countries?

A.: Unfortunately, Ukrainians are slow with traveling to Estonia. Mainly financial strait is to blame. Estonians are more active goers to Ukraine: during five months of this year over five hundred tourist visas were issued to the citizens of Estonia.

Our contractual obligations include the Agreement between the State Committee of Ukraine for tourism and tourist firm "RKRV Reisid". Direct contacts are maintained between other tourist agencies of Ukraine and Estonia. Recently a tourist fair was held in Estonia with participation of a delegation from Crimea. Tourism is also backed at the level of regions and cities of Ukraine and Estonia.

Q.: Ukrainian community in Estonia makes about 40,000 persons. How do they take the new realities of Estonian society? Do they mark off the so called Russian-speaking population?

A.: Ukrainians in Estonia make the third biggest ethnic group, following Estonians and Russians. According to the 1989 population census there are 48,000 ethnic Ukrainians in Estonia. According to the Ministry of population of Estonia, now their number went down to 28,000, 3,000 of which have the citizenship of Ukraine.

Usually Ukrainians got to Estonia when upon graduation they were assigned to a job at industrial chemical and mining complexes of the NE Estonia, munitions

стр. 61


factories Sillamyae, shipbuilding and woodworking enterprises. There are still persons who settled in Estonia after serving a term in the Stalin camps. There are also seekers of freedom who consciously became Estonian residents in soviet times.

The friendly association of Ukrainians created in 1988 became the first organization of Ukrainians in modern Estonia. For a long time it was the only organization of such kind in the country.

Today Ukrainian national-cultural societies are active in Tallinn, Narva, Sillamyae, Maardu, Kohtla-Yarve, Tapo, Piarnu and Oyzou. They are intended to satisfy cultural-educational needs of Ukrainians, saving of mother tongue, national traditions, teaching young persons of Ukrainian origin to love and respect the history and culture of Ukraine. Ukrainian organizations of Tallinn, Sillamyae, Maardu and Narva operate Sunday schools.

There is also Ukrainian amateur theatrical studio in Tallinn; at the end of March 2003 it premiered the Hireling after Taras Shevchenko. In 2002 the folk-lore ensemble "Zhurba" celebrated its tenth anniversary; it is very popular in Estonia, Sweden, and Finland. The ensemble keeps in touch with Estonian folk-lore groups, organize joint actions, concerts; it had three appearances in Ukraine.

There are traditionally friendly relations between Ukraine and Estonia, and Estonian government backs national-cultural activity of Ukrainian minority. It provides funds and hardware for Estonian language courses, sponsor partial repair of the Ukrainian library and Ukrainian Greek Catholic church, consecrating of which in Tallinn in 2000 became an important event in self-identification process of Ukrainians in Estonia.

Ukrainian friendly association annually takes part in the Round Table of national minorities, organized on initiative of the President of Estonia for representatives of national minorities, persons without citizenship, and Estonian parliamentarians in 1993.

There is the Ukrainian-language radio program Chervona Kalyna on Estonian radio.

So, Ukrainians lead an active public life in Estonia, preserve native traditions and make considerable contribution into strengthening of Ukrainian-Estonian relations.

Q.: There are over 100,000 of Russians in Estonia. Is there any friction?

A.: Ukrainians have no connection with it.

Q.: There are over 100 Russian teaching schools in Estonia. What is the background and what about Ukrainian teaching schools?

A.: The majority of Russian schools are in the areas bordering on Russian Federation and places of compact residence of the so called Russian-speaking

стр. 62


population of Estonia.

In 1993 Estonia passed a Law on basic and high schools, which set a term (up to 2000) of transition to Estonian as the language of teaching. Later this term was prolonged from 2000 up to 2007.

However, on March 26, 2002 the Riigikogu (parliament) abandoned the strict transition procedure, relegating the tackling of the language-of-teaching problem to supervisory boards at schools, as it is rather difficult to make it simultaneously. Therefore presently it is a gradual process accompanied by solution of social problems and other day-to-day issues.

As far as the other languages are concerned, the Estonian Republic Government regulations #154 as of May 20, 2003 allows instruction of national minorities in mother tongue at schools of general education, if there are at least 10 pupils, that want to study their mother tongue. However, there is no mechanism to implement these regulations and negotiations are under way between the Ministry of Education of Estonia and organs of local self-government.

Q.: There is migration of native population, why? Is it patriotism, high living standards, or what?

A.: Without patriotism Estonians couldn't preserve their language and traditions at present level. And living standards here are the highest among the Baltic States. However, it cannot hamper going out of the country. For example, there are large Estonian communities in Sweden and Finland. Now, as the EU members, Estonians are more active looking for a job outside Estonia. I think, it's only natural and has nothing to do with patriotism.

Q.: How many parties are there in Estonia? Which of them are better organized? What does the party opposition look like?

A.: In Estonia there are 18 political organizations. The most important political party is the Estonian People's Union with 7,570 members. The 7,046-strong Estonian Center Party is the second. It is followed by Res Publica (3716), Estonian Reform Party (3068) and Pro Patria (Fatherland) Union (2770) etc.

However, according to political scientists, the number of registered parties exceeds the demand, because both political and economic structure of Estonian society provides the relatively limited field for the new and effective methods of public management.

стр. 63


In general, the structure of power meets European political and legal stanards. The main electoral units include parties are inter-party coalitions, which compete for the majority in the elected bodies and the "control package" in the executive powers, which implement a concrete political course. The parliament groups include 6 parties: Res Publica, Center party, Reform party, People's Union, Pro Patria Union and People's Party Moderates, which was renamed the Social Democratic Party of Estonia (like its group in the parliament) at the special party congress in February 2004.

The Res Publica, Reform party and People's Union formed the ruling coalition, while Pro Patria Union, Social Democrats and People's Party form the opposition.

Q.: Are there any important events in Ukrainian-Estonian relations to take place in the short term?

A.: Minister for foreign affairs of Estonia Kristiina Oyuland has just concluded her official visit in Ukraine and we should try our hardest to implement the agreements. This coming fall the Minister of Defense of Estonia is going to visit Ukraine. We hope that the Prime Minister of Ukraine will visit Estonia, as far as last year-on the eve of the visit-it was put off till future because V. Yanukovych had to go to Moscow in connection with aggravation of Kosa Tuzla problem.

The newest data on Estonia from the editorial data base (source: www.stat.ee/foreign_trade)

26.07.04 eesti keeles

The value of Estonia's foreign trade, which includes the trade with the EU Member States and third countries, by special trade system in May 2004 was 14.7 billion kroons, of which exports was 6.2 billion kroons (42%) and imports was 8.5 billion kroons (58%).

The trade deficit was 2.3 billion kroons. Compared to April 2004, imports decreased 23%. The significant increase of imports in March and April was caused by the acquisition of stocks of goods before the accession.

The data collection system of the foreign trade statistics changed due to the Estonia's accession to the European Union on 1 May 2004. As previously, data about the trade of Estonia with non-EU countries (so-called third states) are based on customs declarations (Extrastat), however, statistical surveys (Intrastat) are now used for collecting data about the trade between EU Member States.

As Intrastat survey covers only enterprises, which report a large turnover in the trade between EU Member States, and not all enterprises in the sample submit their reports on time, statistical methods are used to estimate the value of total trade. Estimated figures are revised upon receiving additional information.

стр. 64


ESTONIA'S FOREIGNTRADE,

January-May 2004

(million kroons)

Month

Exports

 

Imports

 

2003

2004

change, %

2003

2004

change, %

January

4477.4

4927.9

10.1

6329.9

6649.8

5.1

February

4391.0

5227.3

19.0

6691.7

7073.5

5.7

March

5167.3

6690.4

29.5

7662.4

9052.2

18.1

April

5261.4

5630.5

7.0

7483.1

10997.9

47.0

May

5499.0

6196.9a

12.7

7423.2

8461.8a

14.0

-----

a Preliminary data.

In May 2004 exports increased by 10% compared to April 2004 and by 13% compared to May 2003.

In May the share of EU countries (25 countries) in exports was 84% (in April also 84%) and the exports to CIS countries formed 6% of the total exports (4% in April).

Compared to April 2004, there was an increase mainly in the exports of machinery and equipment (by 409 million kroons), of miscellaneous manufactured articles (by 84 million kroons), of textiles and products thereof (by 81 million kroons), and of mineral products (by 69 million kroons). At the same time, only the exports of metals and products thereof (by 80 million kroons) decreased remarkably.

Imports increased 14% in May 2004 compared to May 2003.

In May the share of EU countries (25 countries) in imports was 86% (73% in April) and the imports from CIS countries formed 9% of the total imports (15% in April).

Compared to April 2004, there was a decrease in the imports of nearly all commodity chapters. The largest decrease occurred in the imports of transport equipment (by 512 million kroons), of machinery and equipment (by 443 million kroons), of mineral products (by 424 million kroons), of metals and products thereof (by 401 million kroons), of agricultural products and food preparations (by 267 million kroons) and of raw materials and products of chemical industry (by 212 million kroons).

EXPORTS AND IMPORTS BY COMMODITY SECTIONS,

April-May 2004 (percentages)

 

Exports

Imports

Foreign trade balance in May, (+.-) million kroons

Commodity section by HS

April b

May

April b

May

TOTAL

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

-2 264.9

Agricultural products and food preparations (I-IV)

7.0

6.0

9.5

9.4

-429.7

Mineral products (V)

2.4

3.3

7.9

5.2

-238.5

стр. 65


Raw materials and products of chemical industry (VI)

5.8

5.3

7.7

7.5

-301.3

Articles of plastics and rubber (VII)

2.5

2.5

4.2

5.2

-283.4

Wood and products thereof (IX)

16.4

14.5

3.3

3.6

593.1

Paper and articles thereof (X)

2.0

2.3

2.1

2.9

-105.6

Textiles and products thereof (XI)

10.5

10.8

6.9

7.6

29.8

Metals and products thereof (XV)

8.6

6.6

11.1

9.6

-409.7

Machinery and equipment (XVI)

23.2

27.7

24.9

27.2

-582.4

Transport equipment (XVII)

5.7

4.8

14.0

12.2

-734.4

Other

15.9

16.2

8.4

9.6

197.2

b Revised data.

SHARE OF COUNTRIES IN ESTONIA'S EXPORTS AND IMPORTS,

April-May 2004 (percentages)

Exports

Imptorts

Country of destination

Aprilb

May

country of consignmentc

Aprilb

May

1. Finland

24.5

23.7

1. Finland

21.4

23.4

2. Sweden

17.6

18.3

2. Germany

12.1

14.0

3. Germany

7.9

9.6

3. Sweden

9.0

11.6

4. Latvia

9.7

6.8

4. Russia

10.8

5.9

5. Russia

2.3

4.3

5. Latvia

5.0

5.7

6. Denmark

3.4

3.9

6. Netherlands

3.9

4.9

7. Norway

2.9

3.9

7. Lithuania

5.2

4.8

8. Hungary

1.4

3.6

8. Denmark

2.3

3.3

9. United Kingdom

4.2

3.5

9. Poland

2.7

3.3

10. Netherlands

2.9

3.4

10. Italy

2.1

2.3

b Revised data.

c As the country of consignment is used as a partner country in the statistics on trade between Member States this concept is also used for the whole trade figures shown in this table.

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