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The riigikogu passed with 66 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia (974 SE), initiated by 86 members of the Riigikogu. The purpose of the Bill is to amend the preamble of the Constitution, in order to give prominence and ascribe importance to the meaning of the Estonian language as the bearer of the Estonian culture and national identity. The motion to amend the Constitution was supported by the Constitutional Committee through the two consecutive compositions of the Riigikogu which means that for the enforcement of the amendment it must also be approved by the next composition of the Riigikogu, on the condition that the three fifth of the members of the Riigikogu are in favour of it.

The foreign policy as a matter of significant national importance was deliberated in the Riigikogu, with speeches made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Enn Eesmaa.

Mr. Paet said that as compared to the past, today Estonia has easier access to world politics and better opportunities to say its say. These rights have also brought along more obligations than we had before. “We contribute to ensuring peace and security in the world, proceeding from democratic values and our interests. Glancing at the contemporary world, we notice that global subjects attract more attention: energy security, environmental protection, climate changes, spread of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, illegal migration, trafficking in persons and drugs,” minister of Foreign Affairs explained.

Highlighting the matters related to Russia, Mr. Paet said that Russian economy which is based on oil and gas export, was intensely growing, the political system had been stable for the last years.  “Unfortunately Russia is moving away from democracy. This concerns, first of all, the rights and freedoms of citizens and the freedom of the press.  State supervision over the economy is constantly growing. According to a recent poll 94 percent of Russians feel that they cannot in any way influence the development of the events in their state. And this is alarming,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs said.

“We wish our neighbour to be democratic and predictable. We wish that Russia would share the basic understanding in international relations – that the success of one state takes something away from another. The free choice of Russia’s neighbours to adhere to the European values does in no way endanger Russia,” Mr. Paet stressed.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that the willingness of both parties was needed for good-neighbourly relations. “Estonia still has the will,” Mr. Paet stressed. Practical cooperation between Estonia and Russia is smooth and efficient in several fields. This concerns relations between our Border Guard, Police and other agencies and cultural relations. Good examples are the exchange of school and university students, tourism, cross-border cooperation. The soon to be enforced visa simplifying agreement between the European Union and Russia will contribute to the promotion of contacts. “As concerns the dynamics of our relations as a whole, we are not dreaming of a revolution in relations with Russia – we need an evolution,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs explained.   

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Enn Eesmaa stated in his report that one of the fundamental issues in relations with Russia, according to the opinion of the Foreign Affairs Committee, was Estonia’s active participation in shaping the foreign and security policy of the European Union, favouring the openness, solidarity, uniformity and consistency of the policy between the European Union and Russia. Mr. Eesmaa said that the negotiations with Russia who practises hard to define sovereign democracy would be difficult. Nevertheless it is important to involve Russia in all levels of deliberation of essential matters, beginning from energy policy to the mapping of threats to the global climate. “In the future Estonia must base its relations with Russia on the principles of constructive partnership and value political dialogues on different levels,” Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee stressed.

Mr. Eesmaa said that the Foreign Affairs Committee had considered Estonia’s energy security important enough to devote a dozen of sittings to the subject, including a public sitting in the White Hall of the Riigikogu. A more fruitful transatlantic cooperation in the field of energy security is in our interests. The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu considers it important that the problems of energy security should remain in the centre of NATO’s attention within the competence of the alliance. We must do everything we can to diversify the energy supply of Estonia and Baltic region. “It is true that the more we have new electricity and gas connections with different states, the better security we have in Estonia and in the Baltic region,” Mr. Eesmaa stressed. The creation of a power link between Estonia and Finland was a right step in their direction and the construction of the power link between Lithuania and Poland should also be supported. When developing the project of Ignalina’s new nuclear station, the legal, technical and environmental aspects should be fully taken into account, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee said.

Deliberations were held after the reports.

The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of two Bills:

The Bill on Amendments to the Healthcare Services Organisation Act and Estonian Health Insurance Fund Act (1093 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction and Estonian People’s Union Faction;

The Bill on Amendments to the Parental Benefits Act (1085 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic.

The verbatim record of the Riigikogu sitting (in Estonian) can be found at: http://web.riigikogu.ee/ems/plsql/stenograms.form 

The Riigikogu Press Service