Estonia Economy and Defense
Economy and energy
The economic transition to the free market was carried out decisively and efficiently and led to record growth rates between 2000 and 2007. However, the global economic crisis had a particularly negative impact on the Estonian economy, generating, among others things, a serious employment emergency: the number of unemployed has come to touch 20% of the entire workforce, and then slowly decrease to the current 8.8%. After the adoption of the euro in January 2011, Estonia stood out for being one of the few Eurozone countries to have managed to keep its deficit within the Maastricht parameters, which allow for a deficit / GDP ratio.maximum of 3%. Currently, the Estonian government openly supports the German position on the need for austerity and austerity policies to revive the EU economy.
While remaining the smallest economy in the European Union in absolute terms, the Estonian economy has a high level of GDP per capita ($ 28,781) when compared with that of the other countries of the former Soviet bloc. From the point of view of trade, Tallinn maintains important relations with the geographically closest states: Finland, Germany, Sweden and the other two Baltic republics.
From an energy policy point of view, ever since Russia’s gas supplies were cut off in the winter of 1993, the country has chosen to rely heavily on its coal reserves and limited oil fields off its coast. For this reason today Tallinn, although it depends on Moscow for its natural gas supplies, imports relatively little (0.71 Gmc / a, compared to the 1.5 Gmc / a it imported in 1990) and not such as to represent a threat to national energy security.
Defense and security
The goal of Estonian security policies is to preserve the country’s independence and territorial integrity. Although the national security doctrine, approved every year by parliament, does not explicitly refer to it, the greatest threat is posed by possible attempts at interference by Moscow. The same doctrine indicates Russia as a state “ready to use military force to achieve its objectives”, once the political, economic and energy levers at its disposal have been exhausted. On the other hand, in April 2007, during the serious street riots in Tallinn, the country was the first confirmed victim of a cyber attack by Moscow.
The following year, the Russian military intervention in Georgia, justified by the need to protect Russian citizens residing in the country, reinforced Estonian mistrust. With the worsening of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, and following the annexation of Crimea by Russia, Tallinn has expressed some concern about its proximity to Moscow; US President Barack Obama’s visit to Tallinn in September 2014 was seen as an attempt to reassure himself about the protection afforded by NATO membership.
Given the small size of the Estonian army, the defense strategy adopted is that of deterrence, which aims to convince any foreign aggressor states that the damage resulting from an attack on Estonia would be greater than the possible benefits. Joining NATO in 2004 guarantees support from the allies in the event of an attack. The need to prevent possible new cyber attacks (Russian in particular) and to pursue a security strategy within the Atlantic Alliance has led the Tallinn authorities to invest in Information technology, making this sector an excellence of know- how Estonian. These capabilities have also allowed the government to host the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence, a pioneering center against illegal activities in cyberspace.
Estonia actively participates in the peacekeeping missions of the Atlantic Alliance: it has deployed a contingent of 160 soldiers in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan and previously participated in the KFOR mission in Kosovo. He also took part in the main civilian and police missions of the European Union in Afghanistan (Eupol), Kosovo (Eulex), Bosnia (Eupm and Eufor-Althea), Georgia (Eumm) and Iraq (Eujust Lex); it is currently engaged in the Eutm mission in Mali. Between 2005 and 2009, Estonia also deployed its own contingent in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The ‘Boot of Saatse’, the last fragment of the Russian Empire
Since 1991, the year of independence, Estonia has maintained some disputes over land and sea borders with Russia. Among the disputes, the so-called ‘Saatse boot’ is certainly the most curious case. Saatse is a small village of 90 residents located along the southeast border between Estonia and Russia, connected to nearby Värska by a road that crosses a Russian enclave on Estonian territory. The dispute arose due to the continuous territorial encroachments from Russia to Estonia and vice versa. Russian territory was crossed at various points on the Estonian Värska-Saatse road connection and for this reason many people were arrested (the road did not require customs controls, but was only accessible by means of transport and not on foot) and taken to the checkpoint. closer or to Pskov, Russia. Moscow and Tallinn had already signed a border agreement in 2005 but it had not been ratified because a clause of the treaty was territorially disadvantageous to the Russians, opening up, according to them, the possibility for future Estonian territorial claims. Only in May 2013 did the two parties reach an agreement, which established that the ‘Boot’ represents Estonian territory in all respects and imposed on Estonia to cede to Russia, in the form of compensation, a number of hectares equivalent to those obtained: 128.6 in total. The agreement also includes a delimitation of sea areas in Narva Bay and the Gulf of Finland and an implementation of bilateral cooperation on cross-border and freight transport, infrastructure development, environmental cooperation, trade, economy and technology.