In 2015, the population of Estonia was estimated to be around 1.3 million people. The majority of the population is ethnically Estonian with a small percentage of other ethnicities such as Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and Finns. The economy of Estonia is primarily based on services and industry, with exports of electronics, machinery and textiles making up a large part of its GDP. In terms of foreign relations, Estonia is a member of several international organizations including the European Union (EU), NATO and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). See ehealthfacts for Estonia in the year of 2005.
In 2015, politics in Estonia were dominated by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves who had been in office since 2006. He was re-elected in 2011 with an administration that focused on economic development through foreign investment, public works projects and infrastructure improvements. Opposition to Ilves’ government came from both civil society groups who wanted more democratic reforms and opposition parties who wanted less government intervention in economic affairs. In addition, there were tensions between Estonia and its neighbors over border disputes which led to disputes over access to regional waters.
Estonia. According to COUNTRYAAH, Tallinn is the capital of Estonia which is located in Northern Europe. When Estonia went to the elections at the beginning of the year, a tense security policy situation prevailed with the Russian Federation’s involvement in Ukraine, Russian military maneuvers near the Baltics and repeated violations of Estonia’s airspace. The government appealed to NATO to send more troops to Estonia, which has so far received 150 US soldiers.
- Also see AbbreviationFinder.org for Estonia country abbreviations, including geography, history, economy and politics.
A few days before the election, a military parade was held in Narva at the Russian border, where about 95% of the city’s residents are Russian-speaking. Soldiers and military vehicles from the United States and NATO took part in the parade with the Estonian military on Estonia’s Independence Day. At the head of the military vehicle column, the Swedish-made Tanks drove 90, led by Dutch NATO soldiers. It was NATO’s first official show of strength near the Russian Federation. Moscow responded with a few thousand paratroopers practicing in the Pskov region, bordering Estonia and Latvia.
The parliamentary election was a loss for Prime Minister Taavi Rõiva’s coalition government, which lost its scarce majority. Although Rõiva’s Liberal Reform Party was the largest with 27.7% of the vote, the Social Democratic coalition partner backed to 15.2%. The leftist opposition party Center, which mainly has Russian-speaking voters, rose slightly to 24.8%. The Right Alliance IRL, also in opposition, returned. Two newly formed right-wing parties, the Free Party and the Conservative People’s Party, entered parliament.
After difficult negotiations, Rõivas formed a new and broader government with the Reform Party, the Social Democrats and the right-wing Alliance IRL. It took office in April.
The new Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus soon faced political problems due to a family business that went bankrupt. A court ruled that the minister was partly responsible for the company’s debts. She was forced to resign, and as new Foreign Minister, the experienced diplomat Marina Kaljurand was appointed ambassador to Moscow and Washington, among others. Kaljurand’s mother tongue is Russian.
In August, Estonian security police Eston Kohver was sentenced by a Moscow court to 15 years in prison, accused of spying, crossing the Russian border illegally and illegally possessing weapons. Kohver, who has been detained in the Russian Federation for nearly a year, was robbed under gunfire from Estonian territory, according to Estonia. The Russian verdict received harsh international criticism, including from the US Foreign Ministry and from the EU Foreign Minister, who, like Estonia, demanded release.
Following the ruling against Kohver, the Tallinn government declared that Estonia should erect a fence along the border with the Russian Federation beginning in 2018. The motivation was that the security of Estonia and the Schengen area should be protected.
In September, Kohver was released by the Russian Federation in exchange for an Estonian citizen sentenced to prison in Estonia for espionage on Russian behalf. Kohver’s release came just before the Russian president would speak before the UN General Assembly.
Several high-level corruption deals were discovered during the year. The biggest attention was given to the prosecution in September against opposition leader Edgar Savisaar. The center leader and Tallinn’s mayor Savisaar were accused of receiving large sums of money in bribes, which he refused.
A fierce debate raged during the year about refugee reception. There was widespread popular resistance to refugee reception, and Estonia had accepted eight asylum seekers per year over the past decade. The government therefore rejected the EU’s quota of 1,064 refugees. A former foreign minister talked about threats against the white race and ran a campaign against refugee reception, which received strong support on Facebook. President Toomas Hendrik Ilves then explained that Estonia cannot count on solidarity in its own distress unless it is prepared to take responsibility in the EU refugee crisis. During the autumn, the government decided to receive 500 refugees in two years, which will be redistributed from Italy and Greece, among others.
Estonia’s only refugee facility was set on fire in September. Police suspected murder, but none of the 70 people in the building were injured.
The Center for Human Rights in Estonia noted in November that racial incidents have increased in the country in connection with the refugee crisis in Europe. Dark-skinned people had been harassed in public.
During the year, the state television launched a Russian-language channel with news and social information in Russian to Estonian Russian-speaking residents, who mostly watch TV channels from the Russian Federation.