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The Riigikogu passed with 72 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Status of Member of the Riigikogu Act (421 SE & 417 SE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction, the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction, the Estonian People’s Union Faction, the Estonian Reform Party Faction, the Estonian Centre Party Faction and the Estonian Green Party Faction. Upon the entry into force of the Act, compensation of the expenses of Members of the Riigikogu will reduce and the institution of assistant to a Member of the Riigikogu will be discarded. According to the amendments, work related expenses will be compensated for to Members of the Riigikogu on the basis of expense receipts in the amount of up to 10 per cent of the salary of a Member of the Riigikogu, instead of the current 30 per cent. This restriction will apply until the termination of the authority of the 11th composition of the Riigikogu. In the opinion of the initiators, this amendment would reduce the expenditure of the budget of the Riigikogu by an estimation of up to 10 million kroons per year. The present Act enters into force on the following day after its publication in the Riigi Teataja. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Income Tax Act and the Immovables Expropriation Act (400 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 70 votes in favour. The Act provides the right of public authorities to conclude transactions for the transfer of an immovable with the owner of the immovable for the acquisition of the immovable and ensures equal treatment of the owners of immovables. The release from the obligation to pay income tax may motivate the owners of immovables to enter into agreements with the state or local governments which will eliminate the need for so-called formal expropriation processes. The issues concerning the limit exempt from tax upon compensation for accommodation expenses of domestic assignments or assignments abroad and for the use of an automobile in personal ownership in the performance of official duties to a public servant, an employee or a member of the management or controlling body of a legal person were specified in the Income Tax Act. This Act enters into force on 1 July 2009. Clause 1 4) and § 2 of the Act enter into force on the tenth day after publication in the Riigi Teataja. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Structural Assistance for the Period of 2004-2006 Act (423 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 72 votes in favour. The purpose of the amendments is to extend the final term of the implementation of the projects of the period 2004–2006 which creates a precondition for the maximum use of the structural funds allocated to Estonia for the specified period. Extension of the implementation term of the period would allow maximum use of the structural funds allocated for the period of 2004–2006 and would thereby ease the complicated economic situation in the countries. The period of the implementation of the projects would be extended by a maximum of six months and this would allow completing of the projects which have already been launched and preparing and implementing new projects. The Act enters into force on the following day after its publication in the Riigi Teataja. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act (420 SE), initiated by the Cultural Affairs Committee, was passed with 68 votes in favour. According to the amendments, the manager of a school establishes the conditions of and procedure for admission to the school, including the procedure for the evaluation of knowledge, skills and experience upon admission to the secondary school (years 10–12). The specific authority to establish the respective procedure will be provided by a Regulation of the Minister of Education and Research. The director of the school will prepare the draft conditions of and procedure for admission to the school. Two members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act, nobody abstained. The Act enters into force on the third day after publication in the Riigi Teataja.
 
Deliberation of foreign policy as a matter of significant national importance was held in the Riigikogu today. Reports were made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Sven Mikser.
In his report, Paet stressed that trans-Atlantic cooperation was of crucial importance in coping with both security problems and the economic crisis. “It is in the foreign policy interests of Estonia to strengthen it in every way. We have to cooperate in the promotion of democracy, free market economy and the state based on the rule of law. Also, we have to cooperate closely with the USA in supporting the Eastern partners of the European Union neighbourhood policy,” said Paet.
Speaking about the principles of territorial integrity and inviolability of frontiers provided in the OSCE Helsinki Final Act, the Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that, in the post-conflict situation, the sticking to the mandates of the OSCE and UN (UNOMIG) observation missions active in the unstable Caucasian regions has to be guaranteed to the full extent. He added that the Russian-Georgian conflict has a wider impact upon our whole security space. The Minister promised that Estonia would continue to follow the humanitarian situation in Georgia and development cooperation projects.
The Minister believes that solutions to the problems can be found within the framework of the security architecture (UN; OSCE; NATO) existing in the world, through better use of their elements. “The OSCE is the most appropriate place for discussing the possible extension of security architecture,” believed Paet.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs also recognised the participation of Estonian soldiers in international missions in the crisis spots of the world – Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans. “I express my gratitude to all participants in the missions for the powerful contribution to the safeguarding of the wider security of Estonia,” said Paet.
Further, the Minister spoke about coping with new security risks like guaranteeing cyber security, but also about foreign policy which, due to the global economic crisis, is increasingly influenced by the need to address economic issues. Paet considers the issues of energy security very important for Estonia which is also becoming an equal component in the European common energy policy, besides internal market and sustainability. In the conclusion of his speech, the Minister of Foreign Affairs recalled that Tallinn is going to become the European Capital of Culture after a couple of years, and only nine years remain before the year 2018 when Estonia is going to hold the Presidency of the European Union for the first time, and preparation for that is one of the priorities of our activities in coming years.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Sven Mikser extended the discussion with an overview of the foreign policy activities of the Riigikogu to which the Foreign Affairs Committee, foreign delegations of the Riigikogu as well as members of the Board of the Riigikogu make a considerable contribution. In his report, Mikser touched upon the organisation of parliamentary cooperation of the Baltic states, cooperation with Georgia, energy policy, international military cooperation, as well as the economic crisis and the risks it entails.
Comments were presented by Members of the Riigikogu Marko Mihkelson, Aleksei Lotman, Enn Eesmaa, Kristiina Ojuland, Sven Mikser, Marek Strandberg, Ester Tuiksoo and Imre Sooäär.
 
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
 
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