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Estonia Democracy and Rights

Democracy and rights

Estonia is a well-functioning democracy. Human rights are respected and the situation of the Russian minority has improved in recent years.

Estonia is the Baltic country that receives the highest score in the international organization Freedom House's annual survey of the state of democracy in world countries 2018. The democratic institutions are strong and the opposition has real opportunities to act and influence public opinion.

  • Countryaah: Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Estonia, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.

Freedom of assembly and association is guaranteed in the Constitution and is followed, as is freedom of religion. There is no legislation limiting the activities of civil society organizations.

Fundamental rights are enshrined in the Constitution for ethnic citizens as well as foreign nationals and stateless persons. But the lack of citizenship can, according to Human Rights Watch, still lead to discrimination, including in the labor market. Russians who came to Estonia during the Soviet era must pass Estonian language tests and inquire about the constitution to obtain citizenship. From 2016, children gain stateless automatic citizenship, which is seen by human rights organizations as an improvement. The authorities also offer free language training in Estonian.

According to the Constitution, women and men have the same rights, but women are still under-represented on higher positions in business, politics and the media. In Parliament, 30 out of 101 members in 2018 were women. There are laws that prohibit domestic violence.

During the Soviet era, homosexuality was prohibited by law. The ban was lifted in 1992, but the tolerance for sexual minorities is still low and discrimination exists. Partnerships between people of the same sex were allowed in 2016 (See Social conditions).

Democracy and Human Rights of EstoniaCorruption is being prosecuted and described as less and less prevalent. In Estonia, 2018 ranks 18th on the Transparency International Index for perceived corruption, which is an improvement of three places compared to 2017.

Freedom of expression and media

Freedom of speech and freedom of expression is ensured in the constitution and respected. The government does not restrict or interfere with access to the Internet.

In Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index for 2019, Estonia is ranked in eleventh place by 180 countries, which is a snap up compared to 2018.

Judicial system and legal security

The constitution guarantees an independent judiciary, which also applies in practice. According to the European Commission, the country's legal processes are among the most effective in the Union.

The death penalty was abolished in 1998.

2019

October

Former security official convicted of espionage for Russia

October 4th

A court sentenced a former employee of the intelligence service for spying on Russia. The man is sentenced to five years in prison.

May

The reform party is also biggest in the EU elections

May 26

The ruling Center Party comes in third place in the European Parliament elections with just over 14 percent of the vote and gets a mandate. Winners, as in the recently held parliamentary elections, become the Reform Party with 26 percent of the vote and two seats. The Social Democrats, surprisingly, also receive two seats with just over 23 percent of the vote. The right-wing Ekre government party turns four and gets a mandate.

April

Ratas may again form government

April 17

Parliament approves Jüri Rata's proposal for a new government. Ratas is prime minister of the outgoing government and leader of the Center Party, which came second in the March 3 election. Ratas was tasked with forming the government of President Kaljulaid since the parliament on April 15 said no to Kaja Kalla's coalition between the Reform Party and the Social Democrats. In the vote in Parliament, Rata's tripartite coalition between the Center Party, Conservative Isamaa and right-wing populist Ekre gets support from 55 members while 44 vote against.

Called asked to form government

April 5

President Kersti Kaljulaid asks Kaja Kallas, leader of the Reform Party, the party that received the most votes in the parliamentary elections (see March) to form government. Kaja Kallas would, if she were to form a government, become the country's first female prime minister. Kallas invites outgoing Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, leader of the Center Party electoral victory, to discuss government cooperation, but Ratas declines no.

March

The Reform Party wins the election

March 3rd

In the parliamentary elections, the Reform Party wins by a clear margin, 34 seats, over the ruling Center Party, which gets 26 seats. The two other government parties Isamaa and the Social Democrats get 12 and 10 seats respectively in the new parliament. The right-wing populist, anti-immigrant and EU-critical Ekre will become the third largest party with 19 seats, an increase of 12 seats compared to the election four years ago.

February

Former officer convicted of espionage for Russia

February 11

A former officer is sentenced to 15 years in prison for treason when he spied for Russia. His father is also punished for treason with six years in prison. Secret military information has been transmitted to Russia for a decade. The former military should have been awarded a total of € 20,000 for the tasks.


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