Foreign relations of Estonia

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Politics and government of

Following restoration of independence from the Soviet Union, Russia was one of the first nations to recognise Estonia's independence (the first country to do so was Iceland on 22 August 1991). Estonia's immediate priority after regaining its independence was the withdrawal of Russian (formerly Soviet) forces from Estonian territory. In August 1994, this was completed. However, relations with Moscow have remained strained primarily because Russia decided not to ratify the border treaty it had signed with Estonia in 1999.


Trends following re-independence

Since regaining independence, Estonia has pursued a foreign policy of close cooperation with Western European nations.

The two most important policy objectives in this regard have been accession into NATO and the European Union, achieved in March and May 2004 respectively. Estonia's international realignment toward the West has been accompanied by a general deterioration in relations with Russia, most recently demonstrated by the controversy surrounding relocation of the Bronze Soldier WWII memorial in Tallinn.[1]

An important element in Estonia's post-independence reorientation has been closer ties with the Nordic countries, especially Finland and Sweden. Indeed, Estonians consider themselves a Nordic people rather than Balts,[2][3] based on their historical ties with Denmark and particularly Finland and Sweden. In December 1999 Estonian foreign minister (and since 2006, president of Estonia) Toomas Hendrik Ilves delivered a speech entitled "Estonia as a Nordic Country" to the Swedish Institute for International Affairs.[4] In 2003, the foreign ministry also hosted an exhibit called "Estonia: Nordic with a Twist".[5] And in 2005, Estonia joined the European Union's Nordic Battle Group. It has also shown continued interest in joining the Nordic Council.

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