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Prime Minister replied to interpellation concerning cooperation of Valga and Valka 

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip replied to the interpellation concerning provision of services to residents of Valga and Valka (No 51), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Heimar Lenk, Aadu Must, Marika Tuus, Inara Luigas, Jüri Ratas, Toivo Tootsen, Arvo Sarapuu and Jaak Aab on 19 March. The interpellators refer to the fact that abolishing of the state border with the Republic of Latvia has left several unresolved problems related to health care and other services. 

The Prime Minister explained that an inter-ministerial committee of Estonia and Latvia, established by the Ministers of Regional Affairs of Estonia and Latvia in summer 2004 for the stepping up of cross border cooperation had been operating since 2004. An inter-ministerial committee for the stepping up of Estonian-Latvian cross border cooperation was established at the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 2005. The agreement for launching the project “Valga-Valka: One City – Two States” was signed in April 2005 and the health care development plan for the region was prepared within that framework. In the development plan, Valga county and Valka district were regarded as a single health care region and the need for health services and staff was mapped on the basis of the demographic situation. Ansip said that there were no fundamental problems in the public transport at the moment calling for the intervention of the Governments. The Valka-Valga joint bus line which at present operates only on Saturdays and makes two trips was launched in December. Whether the practice of joint lines is extended and to what extent, will depend on the demand. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has agreed with the Latvian partner ministry that the joint lines of the two cities are regarded as local lines and the regulations pertaining to international carriages do not apply to them. In connection with such lines, the issue of subsidies will likely arise in the future. The current joint line operated by Latvians operates on commercial basis and the cost of bus ticket is 7 kroons. The resumption of the Riga-Valka train connection on 25 April after 7 years of interruption will certainly enhance Estonian-Latvian cross border cooperation and will add to the topicality of Valga-Valka cooperation. 

The Prime Minister also replied to the interpellation concerning development of oil shale technology (No 52), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Valeri Korb, Vladimir Velman, Helle Kalda, Lembit Kaljuvee and Tiit Kuusmik on 20 March. The interpellators referred to the cooperation for the development of technologies for processing of oil-shale which the USA and Estonia had begun in 2000 and they asked what the reason was for suspension of the cooperation and what the Government’s plan was for developing of a domestic science base of technologies for processing of oil-shale and for launching of a new USA-Estonian research cooperation programme. 

Ansip underlined that suspension of the cooperation of Estonia and the USA was out of the question. The Government is taking actual steps for further development of oil shale technologies by starting the Estonian energy technology programme which expects large-scale investments in the development of human resources as well as in research and development. “On the other hand, we are continuing cooperation with the USA and we hope to renew the cooperative agreement during 2008,” the Prime Minister said. 

The Minister of Education and Research Tõnis Lukas replied to the interpellation concerning upper secondary school reform (No 54), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Jaak Aab, Helle Kalda, Arvo Sarapuu, Toivo Tootsen, Olga Sõtnik, Jüri Ratas, Nelli Privalova, Eldar Efendijev, Enn Eesmaa, Kadri Must, Jaan Kundla, Valeri Korb, Aivar Riisalu and Kalle Laanet on 7 April. 

Lukas also replied to the interpellation concerning financing of boarding school facilities (No 56), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Jaak Aab, Eldar Efendijev, Kalle Laanet, Vilja Savisaar and Mai Treial on 17 April. 

The Riigikogu Press Service