Prime time— Tallinn


Estonia has a brand image as a modern hi-tech nation, but today it’s dealing with some old-fashioned troubling issues. In his private offices at Stenbock House in the capital Tallinn, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip talks to Monocle about difficult neighbours, adopting the euro and why it’s his moral duty to send troops to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, Rebranding, Stenbock House, hi-tech

Estonia may have a population of just 1.3 million, but since winning back its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the country has constantly found itself in the headlines.

The world’s business press has marvelled at the feverish growth rate of this Baltic tiger’s economy – and its recent brutal taming. Political pundits have picked over the nation’s strained relations with Russia – in 2007 the decision to move the Red Army war memorial, and the soldiers buried beneath it, from the centre of Tallinn to a graveyard on the outskirts of the…

Andrus Ansip’s CV

1956: Born in the city of Tartu, Estonia
1979–1981: Tartu State University, Organic Chemistry chair, senior engineer
1981–1983: Military service in the Baltic Fleet
1986–1988: Estonian Communist Party, Tartu District Committee, instructor of industry department, head of organisational department
1987–1989: Estonian Academy of Agriculture, speciality in agronomy
1992: Attends business management course at York University, Toronto
1994–1998: Radio Tartu, chairman
1998–2004: Mayor of Tartu
2004–2005: Minister of economic affairs and communications
2005: Becomes prime minister

Wired for power: inside the cabinet office

Estonia is not only known as a rent haven in the private sector, it also governs in a thoroughly modern manner via its paperless e-cabinet room.

Power explained

Ministers need only bring their typing fingers to Estonia’s paperless cabinet meetings.

  1. Dell laptops power the paperless government. Travelling ministers can log in and post comments.

  2. The lions on Estonia’s coat of arms are relics of Danish rule in the 13th century.

  3. The PM gets a gavel and an Estonian flag to mark his place at the table. The flag dates back to 1922 and was banned under the Soviets.

  4. The cabinet room is in Stenbock House, completed in 1792 for Count Stenbock.

  5. The interiors are by Estonian firm Vaikla Design which also chose the table and chairs.

1918: Estonia declares independence from Russia, one year after the Russian revolution.
1940: Soviet Union invades Estonia. Mass deportations.
1941: German troops seize Estonia, at first seen as liberators, but country ransacked by Nazis.
1944: Country taken back by advancing Red Army. Thousands flee to Sweden and Germany: from 1946 to 1955, 14,000 settle in Canada, 6,500 in Australia. Under Stalin, 20,000 Estonians were deported to labour camps.
1989: Singing Revolution. As USSR begins to collapse, a human chain of two million people, stretching from Lithuania to Estonia, calls for sovereignty.
1991: Independence declared.
1994: Last Russian troops leave Estonia.
2001: Estonia wins Eurovision Song Contest.
2003: Skype founded in Tallinn.


0:00:00 0:01:00

Drag me