Basic information about the territory
- System of governance and political tendencies in the country
- Foreign policy of the country
The system of governance and political tendencies in the country
Official name of the country: Republic of Estonia (Eesti Vabariik, Republic of Estonia)
Statehood was declared on 24/02/1918, independence was restored on 20/08/1991. The country has a stable politics, several parties alternate in the government – the new government took office on 26/01/2021 (14 members + Prime Minister). Check computerminus to learn more about Estonia political system.
Composition of the government:
- Kaja Kallas , Prime Minister (Reform Party),
- Eva-Maria Liimets, Minister of Foreign Affairs (Centre Party)
- Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Minister of Finance (Reform Party)
- Kristian Jaani, Minister of the Interior (Centre Party)
- Kalle Laanet, Minister of Defense (Reform Party)
- Taavi Aas, Minister of Economy and Infrastructure (Centre Party)
- Maris Lauri, Minister of Justice (Reform Party)
- Liina Kersna, Minister of Education and Science (Reform Party)
- Urmas Kruuse, Minister for Rural Affairs (Reform Party)
- Signe Riisalo, Minister of Social Protection (Reform Party)
- Andres Sutt, Minister for Foreign Trade and IT (Reform Party)
- Jaak Aab, Minister for Public Administration (Centre Party)
- Tanel Kiik, Minister of Social Affairs and Health (Centre Party)
- Erki Savisaar, Minister of the Environment (Centre Party)
- Tiit Terik, Minister of Culture (Center Party)
President: On 31/08/2021, Alar Karis (former rector of the University of Tartu and current director of the Estonian National Museum) was elected president in the 2nd round of the presidential election (which is an indirect election in the EE system).
Parliament: The Riigikogu is unicameral and has 101 members. For a political party to enter parliament, it is necessary to overcome the 5% threshold in parliamentary elections. The head of the Riigikogu has been Jüri Ratas , a former Prime Minister from the Center Party, since March 2021.
Political trends: The Estonian political scene in 2021 was mainly dominated by the resignation of Jüri Ratas and the fall of his government, which resulted in the relatively quick formation of the government of the Reform Party and the Center Party under the leadership of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. Since then, however, its popularity has steadily declined, mainly due to (from the point of view of the press and the public) the unsuccessful handling of the pandemic, the faltering of the vaccination campaign, poor communication or confused messages and, more recently, to an increased extent, the inability to cope with the sudden increase in energies. However, since the beginning of Russian aggression towards Ukraine, preferences have changed again. The main winner of the election polls is again the Prime Minister’s ruling Reform Party. According to current polls, 31.2% of voters would vote here, which is roughly the same result that the party recorded at the time of the appointment of the government in January 2021.
Foreign policy of the country
Estonia has been a respected and trusted member of the EU (including the Eurozone since 2011) and NATO since 2004, and it is in its interest to further strengthen this position. It is very sensitive to its geopolitical location in the north-east of Europe and persistently strives for the greatest possible attention, especially from NATO, the USA and Great Britain, on the events in this region. Estonia considers the permanent presence of NATO troops on its territory to be the most important, for which it made available a part of the military area and training area in Vesta Tapa (eFP NATO forward presence unit) and the Ämari air base (NATO protection of the Baltic airspace).
In relation to the European Union Estonia belongs to the countries that comply with EU rules to the maximum extent. Within the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe, Estonia emphasizes a less ambitious approach, which should not result in changing the founding treaties or address issues of institutional relations, but should focus on issues relevant from the citizen’s point of view and on achieving specific results and recommendations. Estonia remains a firm supporter of the EU enlargement policy, which it also perceives as Europe’s geostrategic investment in its own stability. Estonia emphasizes compliance with the principle of conditionality, clear expectations and transparency in the enlargement process. Estonia also supports the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. Estonia supports maintaining the EU’s ambitious and active approach towards the countries of the Eastern Partnership, agrees to grant candidate status to Ukraine. Check relationshipsplus for Estonia defense and foreign policy.
Estonia wishes to have good and constructive neighborly relations with the Russian Federation and Belarus , but this is not possible at the moment due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. The country is now among the most outspoken critics of both countries, supporting the strictest possible sanctions, including increased regulation of cryptocurrencies to close loopholes used to circumvent sanctions; in addition, disconnecting all RU banks from SWIFT and closing European ports to Russian vessels and European airspace to Russian aircraft. Estonia supplies weapons to Ukraine, there are now about 35,000 Ukrainian refugees living in the country and this number continues to grow.
In China Estonia has no special economic interests, mutual trade is minimal (less than 3% of Estonian trade, China is Estonia’s 11th trading partner) and likewise Chinese investments in Estonia are not high (27 million € in 2019 – 0.1% of total foreign direct investment). Estonia sees cooperation with China as more and more complicated, over the past ten years the attitude towards China has fundamentally changed and former enthusiasm has been replaced by prudence and caution. A significant irritant in mutual relations has become the annual report of the Estonian foreign intelligence service EFIS, which openly warns of the growth of Chinese influence operations in Western countries. In 2021, the first verdict for espionage in favor of China was also handed down. Oceanographer and military analyst Tarmo Kouts, who was supposed to be in
The country is trying to strengthen its relations with Asian countries: Estonian embassies were opened in Singapore and South Korea in 2021, the first resident ambassador of India arrived in Estonia in the same year. Estonia has been supporting the strengthening of EU cooperation with Africa for a long time and, based on political agreements with several of them, is transferring its experience with digitization and e-governance.
An important part of Estonia’s foreign policy is regional cooperation, especially within the Baltic and Nordic regions (Nordic 5 and Baltic 3 formats), Estonia is an active member of the Three Seas Initiative. In 2020–2021, Estonia was a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Estonia has an area of 45,277 km2 and 1,331 million inhabitants, so the population density is very low. After the capital Tallinn, with 430,000 inhabitants, Tartu is the second largest, followed by Narva, Kohtla-Järve and Pärnu. Estonia’s population growth has stagnated and is expected to continue to decline. By 2030, the population is expected to drop to million, and by 2060 even to 860,000. Ethnic composition: 69% of the population claim to be Estonian, 25% are Russian, and 6% are of other nationalities.
Religion: A total of 74% of citizens have no religion or do not state it, 16% are Orthodox Christians and 10% are Lutherans.