March and October elections: The Center Party captured the most
votes in Parliament during the national elections held in March. A
coalition agreement among Moderates, Pro Patria Union and the Reform
Party created the triple alliance, the currently ruling government
headed by Prime Minister Mart Laar. The trio went on to win the
majority in the October local elections in Tallinn and Tartu.
WTO: Estonia became the 135th member of the world's largest
governing trade body in early November, just in time for the Seattle
Language laws: Parliament approved controversial amendments to the
language law in February which required that all public sector
employees and business people have proficiency in the Estonian
language. The amendments received criticism from Russian parties and
the OSCE. In July, implementation of the law went into effect.
Corporate income tax: In August, the Coalition Council agreed to
abolish corporate income tax from reinvested profits, a move seen by
many as consistent with Estonia's reputation for progressive,
liberal economic policies. On Dec. 15, Parliament passed the 2000
budget which included scrapping the income tax.
Anti-NATO protestors: The NATO air campaign over Kosovo struck a
nerve in Estonians as it did around the world. Instead of rallying
around the organization the country is fervently trying to join,
Estonians went to the street to protest the alliance's action. Over
six-months later, support for NATO is growing among Estonians.
Estonia ferry: Estonians commemorated the fifth anniversary of the
Estonia ferry disaster on Sept. 28. The ferry sank in 1994 en route
from Tallinn to Stockholm claiming 852 lives, the worst tragedy on
Europe's seas since World War II.
Police cuts: In late September, then Minister of Internal Affairs
Juri Mois announced his plan to slim down Estonia's police
departments by sacking 536 police officers - the first of a series
of administrative reforms that were aimed at cutting ministry
expenses. Two months later, the ministry announced 655 officers
would actually be layed off, a miscalculation not welcomed by
precincts around the country.
Shipping war: Finnish refusal to unload two Estonian ships docked
at Finnish ports in December 1998 started an all out shipping war
between the two countries that still continues. The boycott - that
was dragged through the Finnish court system and dominated Estonian
media in the early part of this year - started because of a
complaint by the Finnish trade union that Estonian shippers are paid
less than their Finnish counterparts. In April, the Estonian company
canceled one of its routes to avoid the boycott. The dispute is said
to have cost the Estonian Shipping company 20 million kroons.
Pork war: Baltic unity hit a new low when Latvia's parliament
slapped a 70 percent protective tariff on imported pork from
Lithuania and Estonia effective June 1. The tariff expired on Dec.
17, but was renewed for another two years. Most recently, Estonia
threatened sanctions against Latvia, claiming violations of WTO