The Riigikogu passed two Acts:
The Act on Amendments to § 24 of the Pre-school Child Care Institutions Act (152 SE), initiated by the Cultural Affairs Committee, which provides that teachers at a child care institution are allowed to appoint their representative to the board of trustees of the child care institution, was passed with 80 votes in favour. Pursuant to the Act which is currently in force, the board of trustees of a child care institution consists of representatives of the parents of children from each group at the child care institution and a representative of the local government.
The Act on Amendments to the Penal Code (166 SE), initiated by the Government, which provides tightened punishments relating to crimes against computer system, was passed with 79 votes in favour. According to the Act, unlawful disturbing or hindering of the functioning of a computer system by entering, forwarding, deleting, damaging, modifying or blocking data is punishable by a pecuniary punishment or three to five years’ imprisonment (in replacement of the currently applicable one year to three years’ imprisonment). The same categories of punishment are established for spreading of spyware, malware and computer viruses.
Deliberation of foreign policy as a matter of significant national importance
At the beginning of his report, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet highlighted the supreme tasks of foreign policy of Estonia. These are ensuring the security of Estonia and improvement of the well-being of our people, the goals pursued by the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in all their activities. The common thread through all foreign policy activities of Estonia is expanding of the space of common values where democracy, human rights and principles of the rule of law are respected. “It is generally believed that we are living at a time of great changes. We are speaking of an increasing split between the core group of developed countries and backward periphery, of China who has already become an economic giant and India who is on its way to become one. We know that Russia is opposing itself to the democratic world with growing self assurance. Difficulties in finding energy resources are looming ahead, the condition of the global environment is deteriorating”, Paet noted. Cooperation of NATO and the European Union remains a linking point of a single and particular importance with regards to security. “By that we mean coordinated activities in conducting operations and the deepening of political dialogue. Cooperation would be natural and necessary in prevention of crises, not to speak of resolution of crises. This would enable us to take the best advantage of the existing possibilities and avoid jeopardising human lives on missions,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed. The Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) continues to be a major element in ensuring stability and security in Europe. “We support the efforts of NATO to uphold the Treaty with participation of Russia. Estonia for its part is ready to start negotiations for accession to the adapted Treaty as soon as it enters into force and is open to new parties seeking accession,” said Paet. There is no doubt that the role and development of Russia is also important from the standpoint of security. “Regardless of the results of the presidential elections I cannot stress enough the importance of continuing an active dialogue between the European Union and Russia,” the Foreign Minister emphasised.
Paet explained the tasks of Estonia in the European Union. One source of optimism for us was Estonia’s accession to the Schengen area exactly six months ago. “However, our immediate tasks in the European Union are related to bringing into force the Reform Treaty. Hopefully the Riigikogu will approve the Treaty early this spring and the Treaty will enter into force on 1 January 2009,” said Paet.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs pointed out the perspectives which the Treaty of Lisbon would open for Estonia and Europe. From the aspect of foreign policy, the significance of the Treaty lies mainly in the fact that it allows the European Union to play an enhanced role on the world scene, through a more self-confident and uniform foreign and security policy. “No less important is the fact that, when the Treaty enters into force, the argument that the European Union cannot extend on institutional grounds will no longer be valid”, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said.
Paet concluded his report: “Foreign relations today are intensive and many-layered – gone are the days when issues were decided at summits only, expert analyses of specialists and wisdom with qualification are gaining importance. Work in the institutions of the European Union and NATO has become our clear priority and daily routine. Foreign relations are not the exclusive competence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but involve participation of all our ministries and experts. The success of our foreign relations and foreign policy lies invested in effective and harmonious cooperation.”
The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Sven Mikser introduced the many-faceted foreign relations of the Riigikogu. This is seen to by the Foreign Affairs Committee, but also by other committees, the President and the Board of the Riigikogu, the factions, foreign delegations of the Riigikogu and parliamentary friendship groups of the Riigikogu, which have particularly boomed during this Riigikogu. “We are happy to acknowledge that more and more MPs wish and can discuss subjects like development cooperation and protection of human rights, which have an impact beyond our immediate environment,” Mikser noted. The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee said that energy policy and security have assumed a key position in security policy not only in Estonia but in the entire world. Closely tied to energy security is environmental protection. The possible negative environmental impact of the planned Baltic Sea gas pipeline caused one of the biggest controversies in Estonia during the past year. Although the project might still go ahead outside our economic zone, we must continue to keep an eye on this project which jeopardises the extremely vulnerable Baltic Sea ecosystem, and strongly advise our neighbours to do the same. The issues of cyber security were brought sharply to Estonia’s and the world’s attention last spring, when the web pages of Estonian authorities and businesses came under attack. “Cyber security has shaped into a kind of business card for Estonia, an image which will hopefully be consolidated and acquire full meaning when the Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence is accredited by the NATO,” Mikser said. The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee described relations with the neighbours in Nordic and Baltic countries. “I would just like to note that regular meetings with Finnish, Latvian and Lithuanian colleagues is a useful work format for members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu not so much in terms of setting up mutual relationships as for coordination of common positions with regard to regional and global problems. The traditional meetings of the chairmen of foreign affairs committees of the parliaments of Nordic and Baltic countries serve the same purpose,” Mikser said.
Marko Mihkelson, Raivo Järvi, Ester Tuiksoo, Enn Eesmaa, Valdur Lahtvee, Sven Mikser, Silver Meikar, Urmas Reinsalu and Jüri Tamm took the floor during debate.
The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) is available at: http://www.riigikogu.ee/?op=steno
The Riigikogu Press Service
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