From accession negotiations to the treaty
The article gives an overview of the beginnings and course of European Union entry negotiations, as well as problems and solutions that have emerged during the talks.
The role of popular diplomacy is also discussed. Popular diplomacy over those five years was invaluable – especially as practiced by MPs, the head of state, government members through visits to member states and to the European Commission, and the participation of all Estonians – both representatives of the state and the private sector – in conferences and seminars, networking with politicians, businessmen and non-government sector, the yearly meetings of the Riigikogu and the European parliament, meetings between the speakers of member states and candidate states’ parliaments. It was through such personal contacts that the basic system and understanding of Estonia as a European state was created.
During the course of negotiations, there were repeatedly situations where a position had to be adopted on issues that for various reasons had not become clear over the course of Estonia’s sociopolitical debate. There were situations where politicians who, at home, stridently demanded solutions from negotiators, then cavalierly (or so we assume) neglected to support their own demands while on their own trips and meetings abroad.
These situations naturally always create frustration, especially when the public is awaiting positions and solutions, and expects negotiators to provide them. But these did not ultimately have enough decisive weight and faded away.
The accession talks with the European Union have given us a unique and invaluable experience through our participation in the complex backstage world of European relations.