Estonia. Estonia was the only Baltic republic selected by the EU for further membership negotiations, and the adaptation to the Western structure greatly influenced the country’s political life. But during the year, the first significant opposition to EU membership also arose. No one is against the EU’s demands for combating crime, more efficient border control, better environment through less emissions, adapted laws and regulations, etc., but more and more worry that the small industry and agriculture will not cope with the fierce competition. Already today, free trade creates problems because Estonia’s imports are considerably larger than exports.
According to Countryaah, the capital of Estonia is Tallinn. The country’s economic success is still evident, although it slowed somewhat during the year, and inflation is relatively high. Former Central Bank Governor of Estonia Siim Kallas was indicted for involvement in irregularities that brought the bank Põhja-Eesti Pank to bankruptcy.
The Parliament (Riigikogu) has 101 members, and a minority government governs the country. A law banning election alliances was passed before the next parliamentary elections held in March 1999. Prime Minister Mart Siimann was laid off for stress, as was Norway’s Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, who was on sick leave for depression. Few ministerial changes took place during the year. The most important was the appointment of 46-year-old diplomat Raul Mälk as new foreign minister. Milk focuses more than its predecessors on relations with Russia without sacrificing the main foreign policy goals: EU membership and NATO, respectively.
In March 2016, the government initiated the construction of a 90 km long fence along the border with Russia. The country supported the Western discourse on the threat posed by Russia.
Estonia’s parliament was to elect a new president in August 2016. 4 candidates stood, but despite repeated electoral reasons, none of them could muster the required 2/3 support in parliament. Instead, independent and relatively unknown politician Kersti Kaljulaid was brought to the field. She ended up receiving the backing of 81 out of Parliament’s 101 members and thus became the country’s first female and at the same time the youngest president. Until 2004, she had been a member of the national conservative party Isamaaliit (Union of the Fatherland).
After internal power struggles, the government coalition burst in November 2016. The Center Party, the Social Democracy and the Fatherland Party instead formed a coalition government with Eesti Keskerakond as prime minister.
By the end of 2016, nearly 80,000 of the country’s residents were “stateless” – most Russians. In January the Native Law Act was amended so that newborns of stateless persons automatically obtained Estonian citizenship. The country continued to run counter to EU refugee policy, and in the first nine months of 2016, only received 130 refugees.