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The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of the Bill on the Ratification of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (645 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic. The Constitutional Treaty consolidates all the earlier fundamental agreements into one document and repeals all the fundamental agreements dealing with functioning of the Union and the Community. The conditions for Estonia ‘s accession to the European Union continue to be valid. The Government submitted the Bill to the legislative proceeding of the Riigikogu on 5 May 2005.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet explained in his report why the ratification of the Constitutional Treaty was so important. Even if the Treaty should not be enforced in the present form, the ratification of the Treaty by the Riigikogu would be a clear message to Europe. It would show that the European values and political agreements included in the Treaty are of crucial importance to Estonia. “This would be Estonia’s way of saying that we must move on and strengthen our cooperation in these spheres which would increase the safety and well-being of the residents of the European Union. Thus it is also of interest to us, Estonians,” Mr. Paet emphasised. Minister of Foreign Affairs did not eliminate the possibility that the states who had rejected the Treaty in the present form, would ratify it at a later date. “The ratification of the Treaty establishing the Constitution for Europe is important for Europe and Estonia,” Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed.

The Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Urmas Reinsalu gave an overview of the deliberations of the working group and the Committee. Mr. Reinsalu explained the opinion of the working group that it is possible to ratify the Bill on the Ratification of the Treaty establishing the Constitution for Europe as an international agreement in the Riigikogu without having to make amendments to the Constitution first. The Chairman of the Constitutional Committee stressed that the proceeding of ratification of the present Treaty has a political significance. Mr. Reinsalu stressed that the Treaty will undoubtedly have an enormous impact on our Constitutional environment and, although the working group formed their positions in the above issues by consensus, there were numerous differences in positions in the working group in less important issues. The Constitutional Committee moved to conclude the first reading.

The representatives of the factions took the floor at the negotiations: Mart Nutt (Isamaaliit), Evelyn Sepp (Centre Party, Sergei Ivanov (Reform Party), Peeter Kreitzberg (Social Democratic Party), Janno Reiljan (Estonian People’s Union) and Marko Mihkelson (Res Publica).

The term for submission of motions to amend to the Constitutional Committee was established to be 8 March, at 6 p.m.

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The Riigikogu passed with 75 votes in favour (1 abstention) the Republic of Estonia Employment Contracts Act Amendment Act (763 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, Estonian People’s Union Faction and Estonian Reform Party Faction. The Act repeals sections which enable to terminate an employee’s employment contract when he/she attains 65 years of age.

The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Identity Documents Act and Imprisonment Act (749 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic.

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of three more Bills:

The Red Cross Designation and Emblem Bill (795 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic;

The Bill on Amendments to the Persons Repressed by Occupying Powers Act (803 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic;

The Bill on Amendments to the Territory of Estonia Administrative Division Act (814 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic.

At Question Time Minister of the Environment Villu Reiljan and Minister of Internal Affairs Kalle Laanet answered the questions about the environmental pollution.

The alternate member Aadu Must took the oath of office before the Riigikogu.

The questions asked at the Question Time and the answers to them as well as the verbatim record of the Riigikogu sitting are available (in Estonian) on the Internet at: http://web.riigikogu.ee/ems/plsql/stenograms.form

The Riigikogu Press Service

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