No. 23




The Third Phase of the Estonian Foreign Policy – Normal Business Day *

15 June 2011


RiTo No. 23, 2011

The author divides the Estonian foreign policy after the restoration of independence into three large periods.

The first covers the years 1990–2004, from Lennart Meri’s becoming the Minister of Foreign Affairs until Estonia’s accession to the European Union and NATO; the second lasted from 2004 to 2010, until Estonia’s accession to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the euro area, and the third period began in January 2011. By now the normal business day in Estonian foreign policy has arrived. We no longer have any new international organisation to dream of; we are “in” everywhere. This makes the author ask: how can Estonian diplomacy organise its normal business day life in such a way that the national interests of Estonia are protected, that there would still be excitement and swing for ourselves, and that we deserved the interest of and respect from our partners? As our resources will always be very limited, the author thinks that first of all it is necessary to set our foreign policy priorities more clearly than before. Secondly, our priorities should be followed more purposefully and comprehensively than before. Thirdly, how to attract and maintain international visibility. The latter is not an issue of vanity. The international position of a country of Estonia’s size greatly depends on to what extent we are known and respected by our partners abroad. The answer is both extremely simple and, taking into account Estonia’s capacities, devilishly complicated. Namely, it is necessary to participate constructively and visibly in the discussions on the most burning problems that the European Union, NATO and our allies are facing. These are the crisis of the euro area, crumbling solidarity of the European Union, decreasing defence expenditures, and the ability of both the EU and NATO to face global challenges. If Estonia can give a visible and constructive contribution in these discussions, we can feel much more secure, but – NB! – never complacent.

*This article reflects the personal views of the author.

Full article in Estonian