Tere Tulemast! Estonia joins the Community of Democracies Governing Council
On August 23, 1989, more than 2 million people stood together to form a 600km-long human chain linking the capitals of the three Baltic States: Riga (Latvia), Tallinn (Estonia) and Vilnius (Lithuania). The “Baltic Chain”, as it became known, represented the strong aspirations of the three nations for freedom, independence and democracy. Around the world, the Chain became a symbol of the democratic wave sweeping the region. Many regarded the desperate attempts by Soviet leaders to block these aspirations as the Empire’s swan song, and by September 1991, the Estonian flag was already flying proudly at United Nations buildings.
From the beginning, it was clear to the young country that democracy offers the best direction, and that independence without democracy could not satisfy its people’s thirst for freedom. Estonia immediately undertook reforms of its political system and ratified a new constitution. In September 1992, the new state held its first free and fair elections.
The country made substantial progress in the two decades that followed. Today, despite its very small size and population, it is a regional democratic leader and economic role model. Estonia has been called “The Little Country that Could”.
One of the showcases of Estonian democracy is its nationwide e-governance project. In an article from last January, The Atlantic called the Estonian government “The World’s Most Tech-Savvy Government”. E-Governance brings democracy into the 21st century, and uses technology to improve the way that democratic processes are conducted: citizen participation, decision-making processes, government services and access to information are revolutionized by Estonia’s innovative thinking.
Through the Community of Democracies, Estonia has already shared its knowledge and experience to improve democratic processes around the world: it co-chairs the LEND Network, a global forum for politicians, administration officials and civil society leaders from Moldova, Tunisia and Ukraine, funds projects and recommends experts for CD initiatives.