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Key Economic Data 
  2002 2001 2000 Ranking(2002)
Millions of US $ 6,413 5,500 5,100 100
GNI per capita
 US $ 4,130 3,870 3,780 74
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Estonia


Area ( 


ethnic groups 
Estonians 63.9%
Russians 29%
Ukrainians 2.7%



Arnold Rüütel


Update No: 284 - (26/07/04)

Estonia cleaves to the West
Estonia has just joined the EU, but having joined NATO means just as much, if not more. For the country has, as we shall see, had a controversial recent history.
Estonian Prime Minister Juhan Parts said at a press conference during the NATO summit in Istanbul at the end of June, that Estonia, in cooperation with NATO, is prepared to participate in training Iraqi military personnel.
"Of course, we should be ready for this. I am confident that it would make sense to share our experience with the Iraqi armed forces," Parts said. Estonian specialists may invite Iraqi military personnel to study at the Baltic College in Tartu, he said. 
Furthermore, Estonia is prepared to send five or six troops to service the Kabul air field as part of a NATO mission, Parts said. This step will not require budget adjustments, he said. The Defense Ministry can send additional personnel to Kabul within the existing budget plan, he said. A group of sappers will resume their work in Afghanistan after a six-month suspension, he added. 

Estonia's chequered history
The Estonians have had a turbulent history, never more so than in the twentieth century. Estonian soldiers in World War II fought with the German army against the Soviet Union, which had previously invaded the Baltic states, along with Finland, between 1939-1940. After German forces began their retreat from the Soviet Union towards the end of the war, the Red Army's advance was held up for some 8 months in Estonia, as Estonian fighters, many working with the German army, held off the Red Army, who were perceived as invaders, based on the previous experience of their occupation. 
The authorities of the Estonian town of Lihula are planning to install a monument to the soldiers who fought with the 20th Estonian SS division during WWII, an idea the city of Parnu had earlier rejected. 
It is planned to unveil the monument at the Tamme park in late August, on the anniversary of the restoration of Estonia's independence. Lihula district culture advisor Kersti Ajaots said the monument "should also remind the people of the students of the Lihula gymnasium [high school] who fought and died in WWII." The monument depicts a soldier wearing a German army uniform and a helmet, with the German Iron Cross on his chest. 
Such a monument was erected in downtown Parnu in 2002, but the city administration had nothing to do but remove it under pressure from public opinion nine days later. The Russian Foreign Ministry also condemned the idea at the time. 

Lazar asks EU to examine Estonia's policy on Nazism 
Russia's chief rabbi Berl Lazar has asked European Commission President Romano Prodi to evaluate Estonia's policy on Nazism. 
In his letter to Prodi, Lazar notes that a meeting of former SS servicemen and their supporters recently took place in Estonia. It was announced at this meeting that a monument to the supporters of Nazism will soon be opened in the center of the country. 
"The fact that the memorial to dead SS members and guards of concentration camps will be erected by the Estonian authorities next to a memorial complex built in memory of the soldiers who liberated Estonia from Hitler's occupation looks especially cynical," says Lazar's letter. 
The letter says that "all of this is happening as the United Europe celebrates the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Front and as it is preparing to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazism, which saved the European civilization from descending into the darkness of barbarity." 
Lazar notes that "this significant occurrence is not something completely unusual in modern-day Estonia," and that "the country's authorities are deliberately conducting propaganda to put a heroic image on those who fought against the anti-Hitler coalition." 
"This is especially insulting for us, European Jews," says the letter.

Foreign minister defends human rights situation
European agencies will not monitor the ongoing human rights situation in Estonia, despite Russia's concerns over the plight of ethnic Russians in the Baltic state, said Estonian foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland. 
"There are no strong reasons for this [a monitoring]. I do not see any. The human rights situation in Estonia has improved. The EU and NATO admit that we observe the Copenhagen conditions, and the Council of Europe could use our experience in the sphere of integrating non-native citizens," Ojuland told a press conference in Tallinn recently. 
She said that over the last six months, Russia's complaints about Estonia became more aggressive. "What is currently happening resembles the situation of the early nineties, when Estonia was still fighting for its independence. Obviously, someone is very upset over Estonia's accession to the EU and NATO," Ojuland said. 
Talking about the signing of the Russian-Estonian border agreement, Ojuland said that "Estonia has been ready to sign the agreement for several years, but Russia has to make the first step, showing political will." such questions in accordance with its interests."

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Estonia establishes diplomatic relations with Iraq 

Estonia recently established diplomatic relations with Iraq, although the Baltic country said it does not intend opening an embassy there. 
"Now it's important to do everything we can to give the new Iraqi government wide international support," Prime Minister, Juhan Parts, said at a news conference. 
Iraq recognized Estonia's independence from the former Soviet Union in 1992, but until recently the two countries did not have diplomatic ties. 
Estonia has 45 soldiers serving with US-led forces in Iraq and Foreign Minister, Kristiina Ojuland, said, a ministerial visit to the country was now possible. 
"The establishment of diplomatic relations is the first step towards planning a visit," Ojuland said, the Baltic News Agency (BNS) reported. 
BNS quoted Ojuland as saying Estonia did not plan to open an embassy in Iraq, but would appoint an ambassador who would reside elsewhere. 
Regarding Afghanistan, Ojuland said that establishing diplomatic relations was not on the agenda at present, but may be considered after the October elections there. 

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Tele2 boosts ownership in Estonia

Scandinavian Tele2 AB, the leading alternative pan-European telecommunications company, announced recently that it had obtained 100 per cent ownership in and full control over Tele2 Holding AS, located in Estonia, by acquiring the outstanding 10 per cent of the shares, New Europe has reported.
Tele2 Holding AS holds a 100 per cent share in UAB Tele2 in Lithuania and a 52 per cent share in Tele2 Eesti AS in Estonia. The remaining shares of Tele2 Eesti AS are controlled by the Tele2 group. Tele2 is Europe's leading alternative telecom operator, which has over 24 million customers in 24 countries.

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