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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 8,383 6,413 5,500 95
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 3,870 4,130 3,870 72
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 314 - (22/02/07)

Bad blood 
Relations between Estonia and Russia have never been exactly cuddly. Indeed, the Estonians and the Russians have no great love lost for each other. The former cordially detest the latter, of which the Russkis are well aware. 
The occupation of Estonia by the USSR in 1940 is regarded by every Estonian as an abomination. It is one country that wished that the Soviet Union had never existed. 
Soviet troops arrived in Estonia in 1940. They swiftly absorbed it into the Soviet Union. Nazi forces pushed them out in 1941. In this short period, the Russians virtually destroyed the Estonian middle class by mass deportations to Siberia, from which most never returned, and by individual executions. The Red Army returned in 1944 and remained for half a century, finishing off the destruction or displacement of a sizeable part of the Estonian population, and replacing them in the workforce with the forced immigration of Russians, and others from different parts of the Soviet Union - the cause of todays ethnic problems. Then in the 1990s Estonia declared independence from the Soviet Union. 
The Estonians can now scarcely believe their luck. They are free of the Soviet embrace.

Symbolism is all
But a major diplomatic row was brewing in early February over plans by the tiny Baltic state to demolish a monument to Red Army soldiers who freed Estonia from the Nazis back in 1944.
Estonia's unrepentant prime minister, Andrus Ansip, who heads a right-wing nationalist government, wants to get rid of the monument - arguing that it is a symbol of Estonia's occupation by the Soviet Union. Moscow disagrees. It says the plan to shift the memorial is an insult to the dead and an alarming sign of anti-Russian "fascism" in what it calls "revanchist" Estonia. 
Some 2,000 pro-Kremlin activists on February 8th staged a demonstration in Moscow calling on Estonia to think again. Russia has already formally protested about the move to the European Union, which Estonia joined in 2004. 
However, Mr Ansip said that he wasn't going to change his mind. In a defiant interview he said for Estonians there wasn't any difference between German Nazis and Russian communists. "Both the swastika and the hammer and sickle are symbols of occupation regimes in Estonia," he told the Russian News Agency Interfax, adding he wouldn't bend to "Russian threats." 
The row is made more bitter by the fact that some Estonians fought with the Nazis. The dispute over the statue in the capital Tallinn has become a symbol of the deep divisions in Estonian society. The country's large ethnic Russian population wants it to stay - with Russia claiming that ethnic Russians there suffer persecution. Estonian officials say they merely want to move the monument somewhere else. 
Either way, Estonia appears to be the latest post-Soviet state to have fallen out with its mighty neighbour, following the recent examples of Ukraine and Belarus- not to mention Georgia. If Estonia refuses to back down expect sanctions from Moscow next. 

No need for border treaties with Russia - Estonian PM
Estonia's prime minister said on January 6th that his country does not need any border agreements with Russia. Talks on border agreements between the countries have been deadlocked since Russia refused to ratify the document signed in 2005, citing new provisions inserted by Tallinn. 
"Of course, we would like relations between our countries to be more accurate and clear, which is why I advocate border treaties. But they have to be ratified by the Russian side. However, the absence of similar treaties is not a problem with the European Union, NATO or Schengen [countries]," Andrus Ansip said live on Radio 4. 
The two countries signed border agreements on May 18th, 2005, and the Estonian parliament ratified the documents on June 20th, but with additional demands linked to the 1920 peace treaty between Soviet Russia and Estonia. 
On September 6th, Russia notified Estonia that it was revoking its signature from the treaties because the 1920 document was no longer valid. 
Moscow said the new provisions in the ratification law could be seen as legally entitling Estonia to make some territorial claims on Russia. 
Moscow proposed including a provision "that all the previously signed agreements and treaties in bilateral history outlining the border are invalid" in mid-2006, but Estonia replied that it had no intention of resuming negotiations. 
Ansip said cooperation between the two countries' border guards was one of the best examples of interaction, despite the absence of border agreements. He added that many countries lived in peace and harmony without such documents being signed. 

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Alcatel-Lucent aids Estonia's Elion for broadband access


An Estonian telecom and IT provider, Elion Enterprises, recently tapped Alcatel-Lucent for the delivery of an IP-based broadband access network. According to local media, Alcatel-Lucent has already completed the first phase of the project by delivering the first nodes. According to a recent Alcatel-Lucent statement, its DSL system would enable Elion to offer triple-play services to its reported 141,000 subscribers. "The new agreement specifically calls for Alcatel-Lucent to deliver its 7302 Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM), an IP access platform, and its 7330 ISAM Fiber-to-the-Node (FTTN)," the statement said. "Alcatel-Lucent is presently helping us in a fast and efficient way with DSL deployment and that is critical to our business. Their IP access platform and experience in broadband access will enable us to evolve further in our triple play offering and expand to even higher bandwidth services," said Toivo Praakel, director of Elion's Internet and Datacom Division, in a separate statement, New Europe reported.

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TRANSPORT

Direct rail freight link to China is eyed by Estonia

The Estonian state-owned rail operator, Eesti Raudtee (ER,) is projecting the setting of a direct regular rail freight link from Tallinn through Kazakstan to China in 2007, New Europe reported.
According to reports, the rail delivery in 11-14 days would be competitive with the maritime cargo links to China, with the delivery time ranging from 35 to 45 days. The link would increase 50-fold the container transit volume through Estonia. The website railway-market.pl quoted Rene Varek, marketing director at ER as saying that the company would launch the direct rail freight link Tallinn-Almaty (Kazakstan), an extension to the Chinese launched Shanghai-Almaty link. ER targets to increase the container transit volume from the present 10,000 units a year to 500,000 units in the next 3-5 years. ER claims the development of the container transit sector is an integral part of the ports' made investments into the building of container terminals, such as the Port of Tallinn owned Muuga port and the private-equity Sillamae port. Varek however apprehended that the targeted rail link plan could be upset by Russia.

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