Estonia. At the beginning of 1996, one of the first major
investors in Estonia, Svenska Tobaks AB, moved its
manufacturing to Sweden after the Estonian government
refused to grant the company continued tax privileges.
Later, SAS failed to buy into Estonian Air. Instead, Danish
Maersk Air joined as a partner in the company.
At the turn of the year, a conflict within the Orthodox
Church was raised about who was a legitimate heir to the
Church's assets. The battle was between the Esther and the
Countryaah.com, the protracted fishing conflict between Estonia and
Latvia in the Gulf of Riga was resolved following
negotiations between the heads of government. In June, the
Baltic Presidents visited US President Clinton to discuss
NATO accession. They made no promises. Later, however, the
United States, partly in collaboration with Sweden, worked
for Baltic membership in the EU as a kind of compensation
and a step on the road.
During the autumn, the Estonian and Russian foreign
ministers met in Karelia and reached an oral agreement on
the border crossing between the countries. Estonia accepted
the border once drawn by Stalin when he separated a few
thousand km 2 of land from Estonia that existed
during the interwar period.
After the failure of the presidential election in
Parliament, an electoral assembly, composed of MPs and
representatives of the municipalities, returned Lennart Meri
to the presidential post for another five years.
During the autumn, municipal elections were also held,
which indirectly also led to a government crisis due to a
cooperation agreement that the leading government party
Samlingspartiet (Koonderakond) had signed with Center Center
(Keskerakond). The Reform Party (Reformierakond) left the
government, which continued to govern as a minority
In the election to a constitutional assembly in November
1917, the Bolshevik esters received only 35.5% of the vote.
On February 24, 1918, Estonia declared itself independent of
the Soviet Union and created a provisional government. The
day after German troops occupied Tallinn, and the Estonian
government was forced into exile.
After Germany's defeat in World War I, Estonia's
liberation war began. In February 1919, the Estonians
defeated the Red Army, in November a force of German
mercenaries and subsequently again the Red Army. With the
Tartu Treaty of February 2, 1920, the Soviet Union
recognized Estonia's independence.
Along with Lithaun and Latvia, Estonia joined the League
of Nations in 1921. The country got a constitution based on
the Swiss model and became a parliamentary democracy. The
government initiated the reconstruction of the land and
implemented a land reform. In 1920, the country's first oil
refinery was built.
Estonian legislation guaranteed the rights of minorities
while the government worked to ensure that all ethnic groups
received schools in their own language. The economic crisis
of the early 1930's led to several changes in the country's
constitution from a near dictatorial regime in 1933 to a
presidentialist-parliamentary regime in 1937.
Secret documents in the non-attack pact between Germany
and Russia - signed by Foreign Ministers Molotov y
Ribbentrop in 1939 - stated that the Baltic countries were
in the Russian sphere of interest. At the same time, Tallinn
signed a mutual assistance agreement with Moscow, allowed
the Russians to build naval bases in Estonian territory.
1940 Russian and German occupation
In June 1940, Stalin made an ultimatum to Estonia
demanding that Russian troops be allowed into the country
following alleged disappearances by soldiers. Estonia
rejected the ultimatum and Stalin responded by dismissing
the Tallinn government and replacing it with members of the
local Communist Party. Following the holding of elections
during this occupation, the Communist Party officially
assumed power in the country.
Like the neighboring countries of Lithaun and Latvia, the
country now adopted the name, Estonia's Socialist Soviet
Republic and allowed itself to be incorporated into the
Soviet Union. Acc. the official history of the 3 Baltic
States then voluntarily supported the Soviet Union. In 1941,
around 60,000 esters were deported to Siberia (see Gulag).