In March 1999, Mart Laar was appointed prime minister. In
the area around Lake Peipus, which forms a significant part
of the border with Russia and where 95% of the population
speaks Russian, a program was started to reduce social
aftermath, following extensive redundancies of
Russian-speaking non-Estonian speakers. Estonian families in
the city of Narva took in Russian-speaking young people to
reduce social distress.
See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how EE can stand for Estonia.
In Tallin, the funeral of an Estonian officer who led a
Nazi unit during World War II led to protests. Prime
Minister Laar described the officer as one of the country's
most prominent soldiers, stating that it was the country's
duty to show him similar honor, but the parties representing
the Russian-speaking minority perceived the incident as
support for fascism.
In October 2001, Arnold Ruutel took over the presidential
post. He was formerly a member of the Central Committee of
the Communist Party.
In 2001, Prime Minister Laar handed over the mayor's post
in Tallinn to the opposition, triggering charges of treason
from his own government coalition. He therefore resigned
from the post in January 2002.
The EU summit in Copenhagen in December 2002 approved
Estonia's accession to the Union on 1 May 2004. It was
subsequently confirmed by a referendum in Estonia in
September 2003, with 67% voting for the accession. In
parallel, NATO accession was negotiated in place, and
Estonia was formally admitted in April 2004.
The March 2003 election was won by a center-right
coalition that inserted Juhan Parts as prime minister.
At a summit in January 2004, the Presidents of Estonia
and Cyprus signed two cooperation agreements - one on
education and culture, and one on combating organized crime.
It was considered by international observers the beginning
of a new era of cooperation between Estonia and the
On May 1, Esland, along with 9 other countries, joined
the EU, whose membership reached 25.
In November, Secretary of Defense Margus Hanson resigned
from the post after classified documents were stolen from
his home. The legislation clearly states that these types of
documents must not be brought out of government offices.
That the government offices also did not offer great
security proved when documents in the same case disappeared
from the Foreign Ministry. Foreign Minister Kristiina
Ojuland was then dismissed.
In March 2005, Justice Ken-Marti Vaher lost a vote of
confidence in Parliament on the basis of a number of
questions for the anti-corruption program. As a result of
the lost vote, Prime Minister Parts resigned. In April,
Andrus Ansip from the right-wing Reform Party was appointed
as new Prime Minister.
On May 9, 2005, the Estonian Parliament ratified the EU's
new constitution. It didn't matter. A few weeks later it was
voted down by referendums in France and the Netherlands. A
few weeks later, Estonia voluntarily abandoned the target of
being admitted to the Eurozone in 2007. The country was
above the allowed maximum inflation level. Instead, a new
plan was drawn up, aiming for inclusion in the zone in 2008.
The 2006 presidential election was won by Toomas Hendrik
Ilves of the Social Democracy. The elections took place in
parliament, where after the first round of elections he had
no counter-candidates. Ilves was born in exile, grew up in
the United States and worked in the 1980's as a journalist
on Radio Free Europe - the United States propaganda
station targeting Eastern Europe.