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Estonia - Foreign Relations

Estonia is party to most major international organizations. It is a UN, EU, and NATO member and a strong ally and partner of the United States on all fronts. It is deeply committed to good transatlantic relations and to promoting democracy and free-market economic policy globally. In the EU, Estonia's priorities include supporting continued EU enlargement; raising EU competitiveness through innovation; developing a unified European energy policy; enhancing and fostering the European Neighborhood Policy; and improving the EU relationship with Russia. Estonia has active development assistance programs in many of the former Soviet countries (with a focus on Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova), as well as in Afghanistan.

In 1999, Estonia joined the World Trade Organization, adding to its previous membership in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

In November 2002, Estonia was one of seven Central and East European countries to be invited to join NATO; it officially became a member on March 29, 2004. Since re-establishing independence, Estonia has proven itself to be an excellent ally, having built a military capable of participating in ever more complex and distant military operations.

European Union (EU) accession negotiations proceeded rapidly, and Estonia joined the EU in May 2004, along with nine other countries, including its Baltic neighbors. The final decision was conditional on the outcome of a national referendum, which was held in September 2003 and returned a large majority in favor of membership. Estonia joined the Schengen zone in December 2007 and adopted the euro as its currency in January 2011.

Estonia has developed into a strong international actor through its membership in the EU and NATO; it is a capable advocate and promoter of stability and democracy in the former Soviet Union and beyond. Estonian troops have been in Afghanistan since 2002 and were in Iraq from 2003 through 2008. It participates in the NATO training mission in Iraq. Estonia also provides peacekeepers for international missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Lebanon and contributes to EU battlegroups, NATO Response Force rotations, and the EUs anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia. It supports democratic developments in key countries of the former Soviet Union and beyond by providing training to government and law enforcement officials as well as non-governmental organizations. It has valuable experience to offer new democracies from its own recent history, and it works hard to promote democracy, freedom, and stability worldwide.

On 11 February 2010, FM Urmas Paet presented an overview of Estonia's foreign policy to the Estonian parliament. His main themes were: (1) Estonia will remain in Afghanistan as long as needed; (2) Estonia wants to launch joint development projects with USAID; (3) NATO should expand further, while also being on the watch for territorial threats from Russia; (4) Europe needs to work more providing energy security; (5) trade and tourism with Russian are developing well; and (6) relations with the United States are excellent.

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Page last modified: 06-11-2012 17:15:19 ZULU