Tallinn in the News April 2019

Tallinn has a new Mayor

Tallinn City has appointed a new Mayor in April 2019, 41-year-old Mihhail Kõlvart.

Kõlvart served as Chairman of the City Council from autumn 2017.

Prior to that, Kõlvart served as Deputy Mayor of Tallinn from 2011-2017 with a focus on education, culture, sports, youth work and integration.
“Thank you for your trust and support. It is an honour and a  great responsibility to be elected to such a prestigious position that has been held in the past by important historical figures,” Kõlvart said on being elected.

Kõlvart noted the historical significance of his appointment. He had become mayor at a key point in Estonian public life. This year is 800 years since the first mention of Tallinn in historical records. It is 150 years since the first song festival and the nation is still celebrating 100 years of independence. It is also the Estonian language year.

The mayor spoke of the need to bring different communities together which he sees as his primary task as mayor.

“Everyone living in Estonia should understand the importance of the Estonian language and its cultural context. However, we should acknowledge that Russians and other ethnic nationalities live beside us and value their language and culture.

“Cultures can complement each other and provided that there is no conflict between them, the different ethnic nationalities can enjoy the freedom of expression and support each other,”  Kõlvart said.

The mayor said that civic governance required a clear vision and available support structures. He promised to look at the city’s future in the round, planning what the city will look like in the coming decades.

“Vision means the ability to see the connections between the various elements of urban management. It also means the ability to design regular routines so as to allow harmonious development of the city and maximise accessibility and streamline municipal services,” Kõlvart said.

The Kõlvart said that he will try to strike a balance between modernity and heritage.

“Developing the City of Tallinn is a complex task because developing a modern European urban environment requires preserving historical as well as environmental values. And I will endeavour to do my best.”

Kõlvart was born in Kazakhstan in 1977 and immigrated to Estonia at the age of three. Kõlvart is an expert at kickboxing and taekwondo having won awards in martial arts competitions. He is a member of the Estonian Olympic committee.

Tallinn’s previous Mayor Taavi Aas was elected to Estonia’s Parliament Riigikogu and was sworn in as Minister of  Economic Affairs and Infrastructure in April 2019.

One of Kõlvart’s first acts as mayor was to reduce the number of deputy mayors from seven to six and reshuffle responsibility, Betina Beškina becomes the new deputy mayor in charge of the social affairs.  In the meantime, Züleyxa Izmailova stepped down as deputy mayor to focus on developing the Green Party.

Tallinn Airport opens new routes

Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport has expanded the number of destinations to 37 worldwide.

New destinations include Minsk, Belarus; Malaga, Spain, and Kutaisi, Georgia. Passenger volume doubled in March with the airport handling a quarter of a million passengers with the largest number of passengers coming from or going to London, Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Low-cost airlines now have a market share of  22% up from 15% at the same time in 2018.

Popular chartered flights holiday destination were Egypt and the Canary Islands,

Eighty-five per cent of scheduled flights departed on time in March. Eero Pärgmäe, Tallinn Airport commercial director, said he anticipated the market to slow for the rest of 2019.
”Many airlines are reviewing their strategic plans and setting new goals,” Pärgmäe said.
”Our task at Tallinn Airport is to offer good cooperation opportunities for the airlines and to introduce Estonia more widely as an interesting and developing tourism and business destination.
However, the summer season commencing in Tallinn should offer enough vacation opportunities both on direct flights and as a part of package holidays,” he added.
Tallinn Airport has undergone major refurbishments since 2009. A tram link direct to the terminal opened in 2018.

Tallinn develops Aegna Island

Aegna island is a spot famous for its bird life off the coast of Tallinn. Now the Tallinn City Government plans to make the island the go-to destination for nature tourism.

The project will take two years and cost 215000 Euros. Helsinki’s city government is running a similar project.

”In order to meet ecotourism requirements, waste management systems will be set up in Aegna and the visitor infrastructure will be improved,” Tallinn city government spokesperson Kristel Kibus.

The project, which also covers the Finnish island of Vasikkasaari near Helsinki, will reportedly develop the tourism concept and roadmap for ”urban” islands.

“These two islands are being marketed as eco-sustainable for nature tourism,” Kibus said.

Both islands will have trails and information centres for tourist.

The city is taking on the project to protect the environment and make sure the islands remain pristine despite the expected increase in tourist numbers.
”This ‘zero damage’ will be implemented by developing methods to minimise harmful effects on the island and maximise the positive impact of education and entertainment on the visiting tourists,” Kibus said.

Aegna is 1.5 km to the east of Tallinn and is administrated by the Centre City. It has 10 permanent inhabitants.  The three sq. km island was once a Soviet military base.

Tallinn Old Town Days

This year brings Old Town days once again to Tallinn.

Tallinn Old Town Days are dedicated to the local cultural heritage and community. Various music, theatre, art, and sports events are held for five days for both locals and visitors.

Both old and young guests can peak into the courtyards of the Old Town, learn about the long and impressive history of Tallinn, and participate in various activities.

The festival, which has been held since 1982, celebrates the beginning of summer.

As well as festivities, Old Town Days, has always been a place for more serious debate, Old Town Open Academy will on series of lectures which as accessible to non-speakers of Estonian on historical issues.

On May 31, at the Old Town Open Academy Presentation Day at 15:00 – 18:00 in Kanuti Guild Hall (Pikk St. 20), four renowned historians bring us themes from the early days of Tallinn.

The archaeologist Erki Russow raises the question “Who established Tallinn?” explaining who Tallinn became a powerful centre of commerce in the late middle ages.

Archaeologist Ain Mäesalu in his presentation “Armaments of Estonians and Crusaders at the Beginning of the 13th Century” focuses on armament at that time.

The historian Ivar Leimus will discuss how the city budget was run in medieval time.  The first coins in Tallinn were minted by King Valdemar II of Denmark shortly after the victory at Toompea around 1220.  Therefore coins were re-minted in Tallinn in the middle of the 13th century.
Historian Toomas Tamla will debunk myths of the history of Tallinn.