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President of the Riigikogu assured President of Kosovo of Estonia’s support in aspirations towards the EU

“Estonia has always been a strong supporter of the state of Kosovo, and we reaffirm our continuous support,” Ratas said. “One of our roles in the EU is to continue working in the name of granting visa freedom to Kosovo. We know how important it is to open doors and break ice. There is no doubt that Estonia will continue to support Kosovo’s aspirations, but we have to understand that this alone is not sufficient for the EU, and it is necessary to achieve the approval of all Member States and meet all criteria.”

Ratas recalled that Estonia had recognized the independence of Kosovo in 2008. “From our own historical experience, we remember very well how important the early international recognition and support for establishing a democratic society was,” Ratas said. “Estonia has carried out quite difficult social reforms a couple of decades ago, and we know how hard it can be. Now we are ready to support the reform processes in Kosovo.”

Ratas underlined that Estonia was ready to share its EU integration and reform process experience, especially in the field of rule of law, good governance and areas related to e-governance services.

Ratas noted that, 16 years ago, Estonia had started with the i-voting and was now ready to share its years of experience. “Our companies are ready to share their knowledge and technology, for example solutions based on digitalisation or artificial intelligence,” Ratas added.

Ratas pointed out that in terms of economy, Estonia and Kosovo were very similar. “We are both small and export-oriented. We are also both well informed of the potential of digital economy,” Ratas said. “As a small country, we know from first-hand experience how important it is to keep the business climate investor friendly and provide a transparent and secure legal space for them to manage their assets. Digitalisation is, of course, a helpful tool for this purpose.”

The President of Kosovo thanked Estonia for the support to Kosovo’s independence, and said that Estonia was an example to them in building up their democratic independent country. She emphasised that the country had developed and changed a lot over the years. In her opinion, the population of Kosovo is young and pro-European. She underlined that the strategic goals of her country were NATO and European Union membership.

Photos of the meeting (Erik Peinar, Riigikogu)

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
+372 631 6356, +372 515 3903

The Bill on the authority of council members passed the second reading in the Riigikogu

The Bill on Amendments to the Local Government Organisation Act (212 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, provides that the authority of a council member is suspended when they are employed on the basis of an employment contract in an administrative agency of the same rural municipality or city. Under the current Act, the authority of a council member is terminated before the end of the term upon their entry into an employment contract with a local government administrative agency. The proposed amendment does not concern officials.

The initiation of the Bill was motivated by an application of the Chancellor of Justice for the Supreme Court to adopt a position. The Supreme Court had found that the current restrictions for employees employed under an employment contract at local government administrative agencies excessively restricted their right to stand as candidates. Consequently, the committee decided to ease the restriction and support the suspension of the authority instead of terminating it.

During the debate, Riho Breivel, Martin Helme, Paul Puustusmaa, Jaak Valge and Henn Põlluaas (all from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party, EKRE) took the floor. At the sitting that started at 10 a.m. today, Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa), Kalle Grünthal (EKRE), Heiki Hepner (Isamaa), Kert Kingo (EKRE), Anti Poolamets (EKRE), Rene Kokk (EKRE), Merry Aart (EKRE), Helle-Moonika Helme (EKRE), Siim Pohlak (EKRE), Ruuben Kaalep (EKRE), Mart Helme (EKRE), Peeter Ernits (EKRE), Uno Kaskpeit (EKRE), Leo Kunnas (EKRE), Oudekki Loone (Centre Party) and Toomas Kivimägi (Reform Party) took the floor.

Isamaa and Estonian Conservative People’s Party Factions moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. 18 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 45 voted against. Thus, the motion was not supported and the second reading of the Bill was concluded.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)

The video recording of the sitting will be available on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.

(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service
Merilin Kruuse
Phone +372 631 6592, +372 510 6179

Foresight Centre conference “A Different Kind of Future” will focus on the changing role of the state

“In recent years we have heard a lot about both digital and green transition which help to reduce the environmental footprint of the human race,” said the Head of the Foresight Centre Tea Danilov. “At the same time, Estonia is expected to reduce its CO2 emissions by 28% by 2035, and yet the greenhouse gas emissions of the transport sector have done nothing but increase each year. It is unclear if we will achieve the necessary reduction without a dramatic change in people’s habits.”

The research of the Foresight Centre has shown how a moderately improved public health would increase the GDP by one-tenth and would bring considerable savings in the treatment budget of the Health Insurance Fund, which is currently heading towards a deficit. “We also need to fully analyse how the increasing average life expectancy would not entail an increase in the years lived mostly in poor health and in need of long term care,” Danilov added.

Danilov is sceptical that these problems could be solved without changes in society. “Indeed, the conference will focus on how can we generate attitudes that support transitions, and what should be the responsibility of businesses and individuals for the environment, health, and pensions in the future society,“ she explained. 

Speeches and presentations will be made at the conference by the President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas, Roland Berger’s Transportation Competence Center and Co-Head of the German office Tobias Schönberg, Norwegian transport analyst Øystein Berge, Kantar Emor Research Director Triinu Ojala, TalTech’s researcher Dr Kaire Holts, Experts of the Foresight Centre Johanna Vallistu and Uku Varblane, Expert on Social Protection and Analyst Katre Pall, and Kantar Emori Research Expert Heidi Reinson

The keynote speaker is the co-creator of the nudge theory, Harvard University Professor of Law and Behavioural Economics Cass Sunstein with his presentation How do social changes take place? Can we nudge people towards better health and pension?

The discussion panel will analyse the state’s role in directing social changes. The panel consists of member of the Foresight Council Annika Uudelepp, members of the Riigikogu Andrei Korobeinik and Indrek Saar, and expatriate Estonian visiting professor of the University of Tartu Dr David Ilmar Beecher.

The discussion is moderated by Dr Lenno Uusküla, Head of Research of the Foresight Centre. The conference is moderated by the Head of the Foresight Centre Tea Danilov.

The 5th annual conference of the Foresight Centre will take place on 10 June 2021 at 10 a.m. in Worksup virtual platform.

The presentations of Professor Cass Sunstein, Tobias Schönberg and Øystein Berge can be viewed on the links below.

How social change happens? Can we nudge people towards better health and pension?
Prof Cass Sunstein (Harvard University Professor of Law and Behavioural Economics)


Smart mobility in German mobility scenarios
Tobias Schönberg (Senior Partner at Roland Berger’s Transportation Competence Center, Co-Head of the Berlin office)


Oslo urban mobility scenarios
Øystein Berge (COWI Department of Transport Analysis, Head of Section)