No. 22




The Republic of Estonia on its way home: constitutional development 1990–1992

  • Jüri Raidla

    Jüri Raidla

    Attorney-at-Law, founder of Ellex Raidla Law Firm Foundation for State Reform, Chairman of Supervisory Board 2018–2019

The author finds that Estonia was successful in the restoration of the state and the legal order in the years 1990–1992 and thereafter owing to several different circumstances.

Politics was done not so much in the streets as mainly in representative bodies, by using parliamentary methods. Destruction of the Estonian SSR and the Soviet Union was carried out by legal measures. It was a war of laws, where Estonia’s position did not depend on the inequality of brutal force but on our legal reason and rationality and political balance. We were strong in that. The restoration of the Republic of Estonia and building of the state based on the rule of law was carried out according to the principles of the rule of law as far as possible. In basic issues, reasonable political agreements were reached between the main political forces who were striving for independence. The axis and foundation of all Acts and other legislation having general political influence was of course the concept of legal continuity which is of greater significance and meaning than may seem at first glance. It is the conceptual axis which served as the supporting point for all events of the restoration of statehood and establishing of the legal order and the related political discussion. At the same time, legal continuity has also functioned as a practical concept, a striking example of which is the ownership and land reform carried out in Estonia. It was thanks to reliance on legal continuity that a complex Principles of Ownership Reform Act could be passed in 1991 which had a clear fundamental concept and which in the end enabled to move assets in the right and fair direction in the course of the reform.

Full article in Estonian