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ESTONIA


 



In-depth Business Intelligence 

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)

Books on Estonia

 


Update No: 320 - (31/08/07)

Estonia is experiencing a massive boom, with inevitable inflationary consequences. It has also recently been in a 'cyber-war' with Russia - the first international one in history, assuming that someone in the Kremlin ordered it,(or more likely, 'authorised' it).

It remains angst-ridden about its former Soviet past. It appears the brother of its former president, Lennart Meri, its greatest dissident then, was a collaborator. It has won the plaudits of the EC, with a huge infusion of funds for its social policy. All this is enlarged upon below, as also the frivolous fact that it is taking to cricket. 

Slower growth and higher inflation expected in tiger economy
Estonian authorities lowered their economic growth forecast for 2007 and 2008 and said inflation would accelerate, but the finance ministry said there was no need to worry. Estonia's gross domestic product (GDP) is this year expected to increase by 8.1% compared with 2006, the country's finance ministry said, cutting back its earlier forecast of 9.2 %.

And in 2008 the economy is expected to grow by 7.0 % on the same basis, rather than the previously forecast 8.3 %.

'There is no need to worry about Estonia's economy,' said Finance Minister Ivari Padar. 'Despite growth being less than predicted, the budget will be growing, and despite the decline of growth we still predict that we will get more money in the budget next year than we predicted this spring.'

Estonia's GDP grew by 11.4 % in 2006, lagging just half a percentage point behind neighbouring Latvia, which topped the EU growth table last year.

But the ministry also said that inflation is set to be higher than expected. Average annual inflation is likely to hit 6.1 % this year, due to strong domestic demand and rising wages, outpacing the ministry's original forecast of 4.9 %.

It is then expected to reach 7.4 % in 2008, rather than the initially predicted 5.2 %, but is likely to lose pace from 2009 and drop to 3.5 % by 2011.

'The increase of prices is rapid but the increase of incomes continues also,' Padar said. 'We see it as a rather normal development that in a country with such a fast-growing economy, prices and salaries move closer to the EU average.'

But curbing inflation is a key plank of EU-set criteria for would-be eurozone members. Estonia's failure to keep its average annual rate under control put paid to the goal of adopting the European single currency at the start of this year.

Although no new date has been set for making the switch from the national currency to the euro, Estonian officials have suggested it may be possible by 2011.

The cyber wars
Earlier this year, there was a lot of kerfuffle about a so-called cyberwar which struck Estonia's government - the European correspondent of The Guardian, Ian Traynor, reported the details, and it became big news on the web.

The tale has got the Wired treatment, prompting former hacker Kevin Poulsen to write a really interesting and detailed blog post on Wired.com explaining why thinks the story is over baked.

Essentially his point is that Estonia (one of the world's most wired economies) took a bit of a beating, but the effects were overplayed thanks to overdramatic government response. The Estonia attack wasn't sophisticated, and cyberwar has already been with us for a while, he suggests.

In truth, U.S. network operators already deal with DDoS attacks of a similar, or greater, magnitude than the ones that hit Estonia. [Ralph] Peters argues unconvincingly that critical U.S. military networks and weapons systems could fall. Poulsen comments: "Malware is getting pretty sophisticated, I'll admit, but I've yet to see a bot that can send packets from the public internet to a classified, air gapped Air Force network. If it exists, it can also do your laundry and walk your dog".

New Freedom Monument 
Just days after Estonia unveiled the blueprints for its new Freedom Monument, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves called for the construction of yet another memorial, this time to the victims of Communism. Ilves announced his idea during an Independence Day speech on Aug. 20, saying that Estonia should never forget the evils of totalitarianism and those who fought it. 

But his vision could take years to come to fruition, if the new Freedom Monument is any indication. The winning design for the Freedom Monument was unveiled on Aug. 15. An artist's impression of the structure shows a 28-meter column topped by a large cross built into the hillside at Harjumagi.

Estonian Arnold Meri charged with genocide
Known at home as former President Lennart Meri's Soviet-sympathiser cousin, this Estonian , 88, has been charged with genocide for participating in the preparations of the deportation to Siberia of Estonian citizens from the island of Hiiumaa in March 1949.

More than 20,000 civilians were deported from Estonia to Siberia and other parts of the Soviet Union between March 25th and 27th, 1949. The purpose was to remove the middle-class, intimidate the rural population and to accelerate the collectivisation of Estonian agriculture.

Arnold Meri, the cousin of former President of Estonia,  is alleged to have been in charge of the deportations on Hiiumaa. In an interview with the Estonian daily Eesti Päevaleht on August 22nd, Meri again publicly acknowledged his involvement in the deportations. "It is clear that I participated in the deportations. But not in the role of which I am being accused", Meri argued.

According to Meri, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Estonia had authorised him to see to it that the deportations on Hiiumaa were conducted in accordance with the laws of that time. In practice, he had no possibility to do that. He is the 15th Estonian so charged.All the others received suspended prison sentences.

Meri also reported on his involvement in the deportations in the recent documentary film and book entitled Torjutut muistot ("Memories Denied") by dealing with the suffering of Estonian women during the Stalin years.

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Russia still remembers Arnold Meri as a war hero, and he was invited to Moscow in May when the country celebrated its victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Arnold Meri is the 15th Estonian to be charged in connection with the deportations of 1949 since Estonia regained its independence. The punishment for those convicted earlier has been suspended prison sentences. 

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Kremlin spokesman: Estonia "at war with the past"
Dmitri Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, has accused Estonia of living in the past in the wake of a decision to charge a former communist official with genocide. 

Speaking to the New York Times, Peskov said he hoped Meri would not have to stand trial for reasons "including the humanitarian one - the guy is 88 years old " 

"We are naturally very sorry that instead of looking into the future the Estonian government is still at war with the past," he added - a statement that is likely to cause disbelief and even hilarity in Estonia given the vehement Russian reaction to the relocation of a WWII Red Army memorial in Tallinn. 

Brussels to back Estonia 
The Estonian government has won approval from the European Commission for its 2007-2013 cohesion policy - a decision that is effectively worth more than 3 billion euros. 

The EC's regional policy Commissioner Danuta Hubner and Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimir Spidla congratulated the Estonian authorities on reaching agreement with the European Commission on the national plan which will underpin a large part of social policy for the next seven years. 

In their National Strategic Reference Framework the Estonian authorities described how they intended to invest EU funding of 3.4 billion euros that they will receive over seven years to deliver growth and jobs to their country. 

Commenting on the decision, Hubner said: "Estonia is a high growth economy with a great development potential and I am very happy that the Estonian authorities will use the assistance of the cohesion policy to build on the progress made. The Estonian NSRF is strongly geared towards strengthening and stabilizing the achievements made in the economic, environmental and social development fields with strong investments in research and development, environmental, transport and educational infrastructure as well as training and social inclusion of non-Estonian speakers. I consider this as a strong signal for a continued focus of Estonia on key areas to its development and well-being as well as a proof of Estonia's commitment to the Lisbon Strategy." 

Commissioner Spidla added: "The Estonian strategy contains a strong commitment to promoting the quality and intensity of investments in human resources. This shows once again that more and better jobs lie at the heart of the European reform agenda. With the priorities chosen by Estonia, workers will be able to better adapt to changing circumstances. The strategy will also boost employment and promote social inclusion." 

The six main targets of the Estonian NSRF are education, research and development, connectivity, sustainable environmental practises, balanced regional development and improved administration. These six goals will be translated into three operational programmes for human resources development, economic development and environmental development. 

Estonia sent its proposals to the EC in February 2007. Approval of the NSRF is a legal prerequisite for adoption of the operational programmes, negotiations on which are currently at their final stage. 

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A WELSH village cricket team has become the first to taste success against a national side.

While the Baltic state of Latvia may not rank highly on cricket's world stage, the giant-killing act by Carmel and District Cricket Club was one of many firsts achieved during a recent tour.

The North Wales side are also thought to be the first touring side in history to play cricket in Moscow, and the first touring side to win the Helsinki Sixes in its 12-year history - defeating Estonia in the final.

In the process, they managed an impromptu knockabout on St Petersburg's Palace Square, which Lenin's Bolsheviks had stormed 90 years earlier. And they got mugged by a Russian gang on the city's metro and forced the postponement of the Moscow Cricket Union League.

The team, from near Holywell, now hope to found a North Wales International Cricket Festival as early as next year, where developing teams from around the world can compete.

But when team captain Tim Abraham suggested the watershed tour earlier this year, he was met with stunned responses of, "Don't we normally go to Shrewsbury?"

"It was an obscure idea, suggested on a whim," said Mr Abraham, 26, from Rhyl.

"We've played enough games against local teams, and the chance to play an international side isn't one you get too often. This was a fantastic opportunity to spread the gospel of cricket.

"But it was met with a bit of scepticism and a few people thought it was a joke."

The team, which plays in the North Wales Cricket League, toured Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Russia.

"There were looks of complete bemusement from Russians on the outskirts of St Petersburg as a band of 30 people, most dressed in white, began setting up a cricket match on a former Soviet military training area," said Mr Abraham.

"Cricket in St Petersburg is not played regularly and they could rarely get a team together."

Cricket in Estonia - where the team is known as The Baltics - and Latvia is more developed, with the teams sporting several British, Australian and Indian expats, although they rely on touring teams to survive.

The Baltics' website says, "Without the interest of touring teams, Estonian cricket would find it difficult to survive, so we would like to thank the 50 or so touring teams that we have played against."

Nevertheless, their top batsman boasts an average of 45, and last year teams from, among others, the Lords Taverners, the MCC and one led by Sir Tim Rice visited.

The Latvian Cricket Club began in 1998, when British Embassy staff formed a team, and now sports 60 members.

In Moscow, Carmel played at the International Baseball Stadium, "the most scenic and certainly the best ground we played on while on tour," according to Tim.

"Rumour had it that there was meant to be a Madonna concert at the stadium on the Saturday but they had to postpone because history was about to be made," he joked.

The Russians had, in fact, suspended the 11-team Moscow Cricket Union League for the visit, cherry-picking the league's best players for a national XI, which included Australian expats and a former Pakistan Under-19 bowler.

Meanwhile, their feat in beating Estonia drew a wry comment from Montgomeryshire MP Lembit Opik, whose parents were refugees from Estonia.

"The Baltic states know as much about cricket as Carmel and District CC knows about pickled herring," he said.

"But, all the same, their results suggest that Carmel might be an appropriate substitute for the English cricket team in their next Test match."
   

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