The three Baltic Republics were the first to leave a Soviet Union in its death throes. But unlike Lithuania and Latvia, Moscow’s military pressure was hardly felt in Estonia. Following a referendum, in which even the pro-Russians participated, requesting a no vote and thus legitimizing it, in 1991 the northernmost Baltic Republic recovered the independence lost five decades earlier with the Molotov-Ribentropp Pact.
The integration of the Russian minority, a quarter of the population, is still one of the recurrent items on the Estonian political agenda, although it has generated less instability than in neighbouring countries. On the other hand, its development as a state has been marked by a political preference for liberal and conservative positions and a strong westernization, looking insistently toward the European Union and NATO. Economic recipes with low taxes and facilities for foreign investment have led to rapid growth and helped its imminent entry into the Euro Zone. This growth, with social services as the victim, was suddenly cut short by the international economic crisis.
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