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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: 321 - (28/09/07)

The haunted homeland
Estonia is in a curious predicament. It knows that it will be forever adjacent to mighty Russia. Yet it would infinitely prefer to be a Western nation, like Finland over the sea across the Gulf of Finland, which itself is next to RUSSIA but has evolved a modus operandi with its giant neighbour, which Estonia has yet to do. 

The past is a foreign country," said LP Hartley. Well in Estonia it isn't. The Estonians, like the other Baltic peoples, are still smarting from the rape of their country by the Soviet Union in1940, which was repeated yet again in 1944-45, as the Germans were ousted. The victory of the Soviets over Nazi Germany was in local territorial terms a defeat for Estonia. It was, however, an achievement of which the USSR could be unequivocally proud (not true, given the Katyn massacre of Polish officers in 1940 and the repellent behaviour of its victorious soldiery; but war is mostly a matter of its dark sides).

The removal of a Soviet war memorial, with the bronze statue of a Soviet soldier, in April caused a serious rupture in relations with Russia. On April 26th, Tallinn police used force to disperse a crowd of people in central Tallinn, who were protesting against the demolition of the Bronze Soldier Monument. On the night of April 27th, the Estonian government took a decision to dismantle the monument and it was done at dawn on the same day. On April 28th, excavations of the remains of Soviet soldiers killed in World War Two buried there were started for reburial at a military cemetery. On April 30th, the Bronze Soldier Monument was unveiled at the Tallinn Military Cemetery.

This outraged Russian opinion. Putin has clearly given the green light to retaliation by economic means. The dispute is still having major repercussions. 

Estonian expert: Estonia can turn into European dead end
After the April events, Estonia lost half of the transit trade from Russia, which immediately resulted in a sharp slowdown in the growth of GDP, Academician Mikhail Bronshtein said in an interview to Pohjarannik, commenting on the situation in the Estonian transit business. According to Bronshtein's estimation, transit trade takes 25-30% of the Estonian GDP: "Transit trade means not only cargo flows, but what is manufactured and exported on the basis of Russian raw materials at Ida-Virumaa. Transit trade includes financial resources and logistics as well… Transit is a balancer of the economy, which is especially important in the current situation of economic depression." According to the academician, the cause of the current recession was the April events in Estonia: "I warned our statesmen then that sanctions would be a follow-up to those actions,"

Latvia gave up its own hostile rhetoric against Russia and is now skimming the cream off the transit trade - not only Russian, but the Chinese trade as well. It, not Estonia, is set fair to be 'the Hong Kong of the North'. Bronshtein believes that Estonia must fully comprehend its geopolitical location. 

According to international experts, a full use of the location as a bridge between East and West could increase the country's economic potential by 30%. And if Estonia turns into a European dead-end, it will forego that 30% as well.

The Estonian government decided to postpone until next week a decision on whether to allow surveys in Estonian waters for a future Baltic Sea gas pipeline project. 

Important energy issue impends
The government is considering whether to cooperate with a German-Russian consortium on energy exploration in the Baltic Sea. It said that it would continue discussions on the matter at its next regular session. Estonian authorities have promised to give a final answer by the end of September.

The request to carry out the surveys by the Russian-German gas company Nord Stream, partially owned by Russian giant Gazprom, has caused a rift in the governing coalition. 
The Reform party, led by Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, is inclined to give a green light; but the conservative Pro Patria-Res Publica has voiced strong opposition to the request and called on other coalition parties for support.

Ansip is eager to put the rift with Russia behind him and tackle the worsening trade situation. A deal over gas would be sending out the right signal here. 

But the Russians are not making his task easier, still smarting from the April events. They refer to countries through which Russian energy transits as 'parasites.' They are talking of deploying submarines to prevent 'the parasites doing any pilfering.' Altogether a lot of bad blood between Estonia and Russia right now.

   

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