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Estonia

Yearbook 2016

Estonia. In January, it was reported that Estonia and Finland were seeking EU funding for a tunnel project in the Gulf of Finland. The plans could become reality in the 2030s.

2016 Estonia

In February, three men were sentenced to prison on charges of espionage for the Russian security service. According to the prosecution, they had, among other things, provided information about the activities of the Estonian military.

According to countryaah, Estonia started construction of a fence on the border with the Russian Federation. On the one hand, they talked about the risk of an upcoming wave of refugees from the Russian Federation, and on the other, they had decided to strengthen the border guard since an Estonian security police had previously been kidnapped by the Russian Federation.

Estonia accused the Russian Air Force of regularly violating Estonian airspace. In May, British NATO planes rose several times from Ämari airbase in Estonia to reject both combat planes, transport planes and spy planes approaching the Estonian border.

In May, one of the largest military exercises was carried out after Estonia's exit from the Soviet Union. It was a three-week maneuver with about 6,000 soldiers from Estonia and allied NATO countries, including the United States, Britain and Germany.

Estonia and the other Baltic countries felt that NATO's presence in the Baltic was too small and symbolic to deter the Russian Federation, whose annexation of Crimea in 2014 was perceived as a warning in the Baltic. NATO's plans to expand its presence in, for example, Estonia were followed in June by President Vladimir Putin's declaration that the Russian Federation must strengthen its combat readiness in response to NATO's "aggressive actions" near the borders of the federation.

The commander of US forces in Europe said that NATO's current readiness was not enough to defend Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania against a possible Russian attack. According to the general, the Russian military could take Tallinn in a couple of days.

At the NATO summit in Warsaw in July, the alliance decided that a new battalion of approximately 1,000 men should be stationed in each of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland from 2017. In Estonia, the United Kingdom will have a main force of 800 men, including tanks, backed by soldiers from Denmark and France.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the United States said in July on a question about a supposed Russian attack on the Baltic states that the United States would defend other NATO countries only if they had fulfilled their duties to the United States. Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves rushed to tweet that Estonia lives up to the NATO requirement of 2% in defense spending and that Estonian soldiers fought in NATO's operation in Afghanistan.

When US Vice President Joe Biden visited the Baltics in August and met with Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian presidents, he declared that they would not take Donald Trump's statement seriously. Biden assured that it was a sacred promise from the United States to defend other NATO countries in attack, and he assured that there was a majority among both Democrats and Republicans in the United States to stand by this commitment.

In August, the Russian Federation conducted an unannounced military maneuver in the western part of the country, bordering the Baltic States.

Estonia's economy was expected to slow somewhat during the year and growth is expected to be 1.5%. The important oil shale industry in the Narva area in the northeast went poorly due to the low oil price and unemployment in the region reached over 12%, compared with about 5% in the country as a whole.

When the parliament elected a new president in August, the parties failed to create a two-thirds majority for any of the five candidates. The election therefore went on to an electoral college with both parliamentarians and local politicians. But even the electoral college failed. In the decisive round, neither of the two remaining candidates got enough votes for a simple majority.

Parliament then got the election back, and the government parties and the opposition negotiated a broad consensus on an unpolitical candidate. It was Kersti Kaljulaid, 46, who was, among other things, active at the EU Court of Auditors. As Estonia's first female head of state, she was supported by 81 of Parliament's 101 members.

In November, the government collapsed when the Social Democrats (S) and the right-wing Alliance IRL shared a common cause with the opposition and voted down Prime Minister Taavi Rõiva's Liberal Reform Party. A new government was negotiated between the leftist Center Party, S and IRL. It became possible since the Center Party made internal revolt against its longtime leader Edgar Savisaar and elected Jüri Ratas, who now also became new prime minister.

During the year, Estonian police revealed a league that smuggled Swedish snus to Estonia and earned a million dollars. The sale of snuff was banned in Estonia the year before, and the league is suspected of smuggling about 8 tonnes of snuff from Sweden and made a profit of close to EUR 2 million.

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