No. 30




Estonia Begins with Ida-Virumaa

15 December 2014


RiTo No. 30, 2014

  • Aimar Altosaar

    Aimar Altosaar

    Project Manager, Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership; Editor of the column “Meie Eesti”, Postimees

After the Soviet occupation Ida-Virumaa has become a county that lags behind the Estonian average both in its social and economic development. The population of this region is one of the fastest declining and ageing in Estonia; besides that, different social and ethnic-cultural groups are mutually little integrated and the region as a whole has also remained alien to other regions of the country.

Before World War II, the eastern part of Virumaa was a prosperous and idyllic region with highly developed agriculture and industry, especially textile industry and oil shale chemistry. The region had many cultural and historic monuments, like the Baroque old town of Narva, and an internationally known resort Narva-Jõesuu. The number of population before World War II was under one hundred thousand, but after the war had ended, there were only some tens of thousands of people. In this region of Estonia, the Soviet power implemented especially intensive colonial policy, and according to the census of 1989, there were 221,111 people living in Ida-Virumaa; only 40,836 of them, or 18%, were Estonian. By 2014, the population of the county has decreased by a third because in addition to the returning of immigrants, there has been a steady migration to Tallinn and Harjumaa, and to a lesser extent to other Member States of the European Union. On 1 January 2014, there were 149,483 people living in the county, 19.5% of them were Estonians. The percentage of non-Estonians who can speak the official language of Estonia and use it on a daily basis has up to now remained modest.

The Government of the Republic has dedicated special attention to the region since the first days after the restoration of independence. Generally, the activities of the state power in Ida-Virumaa can be divided into the following periods: political integration in the beginning of the 1990s; economic stabilisation in the second half of the 1990s; restructuring of economy and investing from the turn of the century to economic crisis. A new period began in 2010, when the Ida-Virumaa action plan for 2010–2014 was drawn up under the direction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In the new action plan for 2015–2020, the experience of the previous action period has been taken into account and new priorities are set.

  1. To increase the presence of the state in Ida-Virumaa visibly, convincingly and permanently.
  2. To promote entrepreneurship by making necessary investments to the infrastructure of industrial and logistics parks and keeping the level of taxation in balance between private and public interests.
  3. To create a diverse living environment that enables active way of life. Th promote the development of community spirit and regional identity among all groups of population.
  4. To guarantee better quality and availability of health care and social security measures.
  5. To strengthen internal security by staffing the agencies of relevant fields and equipping them with the best technology, and also by developing psychological and informational defence capacity.

The action plan that is being prepared will show how the government will amend the existing situation in 2015–2020 and establish conditions for making Ida-Virumaa a dynamically developing region that is coherently connected with the rest of Estonia, and characterised by diverse and high-quality living environment and highly productive economy.

The action plan will devote great attention to the reputation of the county, and the activities that are connected with internal and external security of the state. In order to ensure internal security, it is necessary to have well-motivated personnel and technical conditions corresponding to the requirements of today; in order to ensure external security, it is necessary to pay more attention to the development of social and intellectual environment.

Full article in Estonian