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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
A WELSH village cricket team has become the first to taste success against a
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
"It was an obscure idea, suggested on a whim," said Mr Abraham, 26,
"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
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
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
"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