Foreign relations of Estonia


Foreign relations of Estonia

Following restoration of independence from the Soviet Union, Russia was one the first nations to recognize Estonia's independence (the first country to do so was Iceland on 22 August 1991). Estonia's immediate priority after regaining its independence was the withdrawal of Russian (formerly Soviet) forces from Estonian territory. In August 1994, this was completed. However, relations with Moscow have remained strained primarily because Russia decided not to ratify the border treaty it had signed with Estonia in 1999.

Since regaining independence, Estonia has pursued a foreign policy of close cooperation with its Western European neighbors. WWII memorial in Tallinn. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6604647.stm BBC NEWS | Europe | Estonia blames Russia for unrest ] ]

An important element in Estonia's post-independence reorientation has been closer ties with the Nordic countries, especially Finland and Sweden. Indeed, Estonians consider themselves a Nordic people rather than Balts, [ [http://web-static.vm.ee/static/failid/220/eesti_elu.pdf Estonian foreign ministry publication] , 2004] [ [http://web-static.vm.ee/static/failid/273/Eesti%20elu.pdf Estonian foreign ministry publication] , 2002] based on their historical ties with Denmark and particularly Finland and Sweden. In December 1999 Estonian foreign minister (and since 2006, president of Estonia) Toomas Hendrik Ilves delivered a speech entitled "Estonia as a Nordic Country" to the Swedish Institute for International Affairs. [ [http://www.vm.ee/eng/nato/1210.html NATO :: NATO :: Estonia as a Nordic Country ] ] In 2003, the foreign ministry also hosted an exhibit called "Estonia: Nordic with a Twist". [ [http://www.sm.ee/eng/pages/goproweb0689 Estonia - Nordic with a Twist ] ] And in 2005, Estonia joined the European Union's Nordic Battle Group. It has also shown continued interest in joining the Nordic Council.

Whereas in 1992 Russia accounted for 92% of Estonia's inter­national trade, [ [http://www.heritage.org/Research/WorldwideFreedom/bg2060.cfm The Estonian Economic Miracle] ] today there is extensive economic interdependence between Estonia and its Nordic neighbors: three quarters of foreign investment in Estonia originates in the Nordic countries (principally Finland and Sweden), to which Estonia sends 42% of its exports (as compared to 6.5% going to Russia, 8.8% to Latvia, and 4.7% to Lithuania). On the other hand, the Estonian political system, its flat rate of income tax, and its non-welfare-state model distinguish it from the other Nordic states, and indeed from many other European countries. [http://www.investinestonia.com/pdf/ForeignTrade2007.pdf Foreign investment]

Estonia is a party to 181 international organizations, including the BIS, CBSS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EU (member since 1 May 2004), FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, International Maritime Organization, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC, NATO, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WEU (associate partner), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO.

Disputes — international:Estonian and Russian negotiators reached a technical border agreement in December 1996. The border treaty was initialed in 1999. On 18 May 2005 Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and his Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov signed in Moscow the [http://web-static.vm.ee/static/failid/394/Est-Rus_border_treaty.pdf “Treaty between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Russian Federation on the Estonian-Russian border”] and the “Treaty between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Russian Federation on the Delimitation of the Maritime Zones in the Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Narva”. The Riigikogu (Estonian Paliament) ratified the treaties on 20 June 2005 and the President of Estonia Arnold Rüütel announced them on 22 June 2005. On 31 August 2005 Russian President Putin gave a written order to the Russian Foreign Ministry to notify the Estonian side of “Russia’s intention not to participate in the border treaties between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Estonia”. On 6 September 2005 the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation forwarded a note to Estonia, in which Russia informed that it did not intend to become a party to the border treaties between Estonia and Russia and did not consider itself bound by the circumstances concerning the object and the purposes of the treaties.

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