Estonia. At the beginning of the year, Estonia and
Finland presented a joint study that showed that a tunnel
can be built between Tallinn and Helsinki by 2040 for a cost
equivalent to up to SEK 200 billion. The Gulf of Finland
would then have the world's longest railway tunnel at just
over 100 kilometers, and travel time would be reduced to
about half an hour from one and a half hours by ferry. Tens
of thousands of Estonians commute to Finland for jobs, and
1.7 million Finns visit Tallinn annually.
During the year it was revealed that banks in Estonia
have long been used for large-scale money laundering by
customers in the Russian Federation and other former Soviet
states. The worst hit was Danske Bank's office in Tallinn,
which according to the Financial Times may have washed the
equivalent of about SEK 270 billion. Although whistle
blowers sounded alarms in 2013, the business has continued.
The Estonian Government promised an independent
In February, an exchange took place at the Russian
border, where an Estonian businessman sentenced to prison
for espionage in the Russian Federation was exchanged for a
Russian convicted of espionage in Estonia. According to
Estonian authorities, Russian spy activity has increased in
Countryaah.com, US President Donald Trump's negative rhetoric against
NATO and his positive attitude towards Russian Federation
leader Vladimir Putin worried Estonia's leadership, which
saw NATO as the country's guarantee against any Russian
cross-border aggression. The US ambassador to Tallinn, who
has come to know the Baltic unrest, left his post in protest
of Trump's treatment of the US allies in NATO and the EU.
Tallinn urged both NATO and the EU to arm the region.
President Kersti Kaljulaid said that the EU must increase
its resources to defend the Union's external borders, as
Estonia cannot use its own resources on its military
Estonia is one of the few countries that meets NATO's
requirements of at least 2% of its military defense GDP.
When Foreign Minister Sven Mikser visited the United States,
he said that NATO must increase its efforts in deterrence
against the Russian Federation. Mixer stated that the Baltic
states were used to threats and hostile propaganda from
Moscow, but that this kind of activities increased. He
emphasized in particular the importance of identifying
Mixer criticized the President of the European Commission
when he said that the EU must speak to the Russian
Federation on an equal footing. That's not possible,
according to Mikser. The EU's strength is based on
democracy, the rule of law and respect for fundamental
rights, while today's Russian Federation does not share this
value base and it limits the relationship the EU can have
with the Kremlin, according to the Estonian Foreign
Minister. Europe must speak to the Russian Federation with
strength, united and based on a stance of principles, Mikser
Tensions between Estonia and the Russian Federation
increased when the Tallinn government in coordination with
the EU in March expelled a Russian military attaché citing
the nerve poisoning attack on a Russian former spy and his
daughter in British Salisbury. At the same time, a
21-year-old Russian in Estonia was sentenced to four years
in prison for spying for the Russian intelligence service
Later in the year, two men, father and son, were arrested
on suspicion of conveying state secrets to the Russian
military intelligence service for five years. The son had
worked as an officer in the Estonian defense. They are both
ethnic Russians with Estonian citizenship. According to the
chief of defense, they have caused significant damage to
Estonia as well as to its allies in NATO.
The former state-carrying Reform Party had undergone a
difficult leadership battle, but in April, EU
parliamentarian Kaja Kallas was elected new party leader.
She thus became the Opposition's candidate for the Prime
Minister post for the coming years.
Estonia experienced higher economic growth during the
year than most EU countries. In the second quarter it was
3.7%, which was also the IMF's forecast for the whole year.
Unemployment was lower than the EU average, 5.3% in July,
but was expected to rise somewhat by the end of the year.
Unemployment among young people in Estonia was noted at
In the Narva area on the Russian border, where the
Russian-speaking population predominates, unemployment was
twice as high as the country as a whole. During the year,
private investments corresponding to just over SEK 800
million were presented for new jobs in the area. The
government also contributed to efforts in border areas,
which are considered vulnerable to propaganda by the Russian
President Kaljulaid considered that Narva had been
treated unfairly earlier, and she decided to seek to
contribute to a positive image of the city with
opportunities to emerge from the post-industrial recession.
The president therefore submitted her work to Narva four
weeks during the year, where she lived at a local guesthouse
and invited locals to receive new foreign ambassadors.