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History of Estonia

Estonia’s history begins in the early Middle Ages with mutual looting between Estonia and Sweden and Denmark. Later in the Middle Ages, Estonia was attacked by Russians, Danes and Germans alike, and the country gradually became a popular area for crusades. The Germans ruled most of Estonia from the 13th century. In the 16th century, the Russians attempted to conquer Estonia, but the country was instead divided between Poland, Sweden and Denmark. In 1648 Denmark ceded its share to Sweden and in 1721 (the peace in Nystad) all of Estonia became Russian.

In 1918, Estonia declared itself independent from Russia. During World War II, Estonia was occupied and incorporated into the Soviet Union. From the 1980s there was a national awakening with demands for economic and political independence, and at the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Estonia again declared itself independent.

History of Estonia 2

Early Middle Ages

At the beginning of our time, Estonia was inhabited by Finno-Ugric tribes. The Estonians were first mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus (about 100 AD), but he probably used the word as a common name for several peoples of the Baltic Sea. These had trade relations with the Roman Empire, among others.

The earliest Estonian social order consisted of areas with local chieftains in consultation with assemblies of free men. From the 8th century Vikings found their way through Estonia, and from the 1000s trade and looting was also made the other way, from Estonia towards Sweden and Denmark.

Estonia was attacked by Russians a number of times from the 11th century to the 13th century, especially in the southeast (including in Tartu ). German and Danish attacks in the same period were gradually given a religious rationale, since the Estonians were not yet Christian.

Invaded by Danes and Germans

Estonia – like the other Baltic States – became a popular crusade area for warriors ( knights ) from various parts of Europe, and in 1202 the German Bishop Albert founded the Order of the Swordsman in Riga. The Estonians were beaten by a mixed army of German knights, Latvians and livers in 1217 at the battle of Viljandi (German Fellin), and the Estonian leader Lembitu was killed. The southern part of Estonia was placed under the sword knights and bishop of Riga.

To break the Estonian resistance in the north, the Germans entered into an agreement with the Danish king Valdemar Seier, who with a large army conquered this part of the country, including Tallinn (“the Danish city”, German Reval). The conquest was not followed by any Danish colonization, and after several Estonian revolts, the largest of which were in 1343–1345, King Valdemar sold Atterdag in 1346 Northern Estonia to the German Order, which the Swordsmen had become part of in 1237.

The Germans became Estonian rulers for centuries. Several of the cities (including Tallinn and Tartu ) joined the Hansa Federation and benefited from a certain wealth through trade with Russia. The Estonian peasants retained their personal freedom at first, but in the 16th and 16th centuries became viable with increasing labor duties. The Reformation began as early as the 1520s to take root in the Baltic and contributed to the weakening of the Order State. At the same time, the surrounding powers of Russia (Moscow) and the United Poland-Lithuania posed a growing external threat.

East of Estonia had tsar Ivan 3 placed under his Novgorod in 1471. His attempt to take Livonia (which also included South Estonia) were unsuccessful, and he consolidated the position by in 1492 to erect the fortress Ivangorod opposite the Teutonic Knights castle Herman Borg, who was located in the trading town of Narva on the Estonian side of the Narva river.

In 1558 Livland was invaded by Tsar Ivan the Cruel, and Narva and Tartu were conquered. The German state of state disintegrated, and the Russians ravaged for several years. An attempt by the knights to form an alliance with the Catholic Poland-Lithuania against the Russians met opposition from many of the Protestant Germans. In 1559, Denmark acquired the islands of Dagö (Hiiumaa) and Ösel (Saaremaa) and Wiek ( Läänemaa ) on the Estonian mainland.

Bishop Albert of Riga was the founder of Riga

The Swedish Age 1561–1721

Wars and conflicts

Swedish forces under King Erik 14 took Tallinn in 1561 and started the Swedish government in Estonia, which for the time being only covered the northern part. The southern part was incorporated into Poland-Lithuania as part of Livland. Ivan the cruel had not given up on subjugating Estonia, and Russian troops ravaged the country for decades. The battle between Russians and Swedes ended with a Swedish victory at the Battle of Narva in 1581 (ceasefire in 1583).

Estonia also became a battleground for several wars in the following decades, and the period from 1558 to 1629 was marked by great devastation and state of emergency. During the Thirty Years’ War, Sweden, under King Gustav 2 Adolf, Southern Estonia and Latvia, was granted the Altmark agreement in 1629. The Swedish rule of Estonia was complete when Denmark had to renounce Ösel at the peace in Brömsebro in 1645. Dagö and Wiek had previously relinquished to Sweden in 1583.

Language and culture

Under the Swedish rule, the German administration language remained, and the German nobility and the free cities retained their rights. Some big Swedish immigration did not take place, but some Swedish noblemen took len. Estonia became an important supplier of grain to Sweden, and Sweden gained control and revenue of the Baltic Sea trade in general. A large part of the Swedish enlisted army was placed in Estonia and Livland as a strategic measure against Russia. Tallinn became the third largest city in the Swedish empire, after Stockholm and Riga.

In the 1600s, the Swedish kings introduced several reforms to limit the power of the German nobility in Estonia. The serf peasants’ duties were made less arbitrary, mandatory reading and writing were introduced, and a university was founded in Tartu in 1632. The New Testament was translated into Estonian in 1686, and it was demanded that ministers and other government officials had to learn Estonian. The Swedish will for reform went in waves and depended, among other things, on the king who sat on the throne. However, the German nobility continued to be the most important power factor locally. Although it was often limited what came out of the reforms, the period in Estonian folk tradition has been referred to as “the good old Swedish era”.

The Great Nordic War

During the Great Nordic War of 1700–1721, Estonia was repeatedly hit by a plague and plague in addition to the country being repeatedly a scene of war. The civilian population was severely affected both materially and by a significant decline in the population. In 1700, Karl 12 won a great victory over the Tsar’s forces at Narva, but as Karl and his main force moved on to Poland, the Russians in the following years increasingly undermined Estonia.

In 1710, the last Swedish forces capitulated in Tallinn. The war led to the end of the Swedish regime. Estonia instead came under Russia ; the formal renunciation happened with the peace in Nystad in 1721.

In November 1700

Russian rule

In practice, the new Russian Baltic Sea provinces continued to be a kind of autonomous noble republics, but now under the supremacy of the tsar. In addition, young noble sons were now given the opportunity to pursue a career in the Russian army or in the bureaucracy. Estonia was organized as a separate province (government) and included today’s northern Estonia. The southern part belonged to the government of Livland.

The long period of peace after all the wars made it possible for reconstruction and further economic development. But socially the peasants’ position became worse under Russian rule; the landlords were given more freedom to pressure their viable farmers than under the Swedish government. There were several peasant uprisings, including in 1782. Following the initiative of progressive nobles, the Russian government in 1816 abolished the life property of the province of Estonia and in 1819 in Livland.

The reforms had little to say in practice; the peasant liberation happened without the farmers being granted any of the land. And they were still exposed to the landlords’ arbitrariness when it came to rent and duty. A number of smaller peasant uprisings throughout the 19th century were knocked down by Russian troops.

From the 1850s, other reforms followed, including the farmers being allowed to buy their own land (but at prices determined by the landlord), and the duty work and the landlords’ judicial authority ended. In the late 1800s, farmers owned 40 percent of the land. Several peasant sons were educated, and esters eventually broke the German dominance of the city’s economic and intellectual life. In Tallinn, the proportion of esters increased from 52 per cent in 1867 to 89 per cent in 1897. As a result of migration from the countryside and Russian immigration, the cities gradually lost their German character. The growth of the cities was closely linked to the development of communications (railway lines from Russia to Baltic port cities) and the beginning industrialization of the late 1800s.

The University of Tartu was reopened in 1802 and became an important site for the development of Estonian national consciousness. The relatively high level of education meant that national romantic ideas easily found their roots from the mid-1800s. Around the year 1900, illiteracy was practically eradicated in Estonia. From the 1880s, a strong Russification began, which lasted until 1905. Russian was introduced as a management language instead of German, the judiciary and the school system was Russified and the University of Tartu (now called Russian name, Jurjev) had to switch to Russian in 1893. Russification led to the rise of Estonian nationalism. Jaan Tônisson founded the first liberal political party in Tartu. In Tallinn wasConstantine Päts the leading name.

Requirements for self-government

The rebellion in Russia in 1905 ( the bloody Sunday ) spread to Estonia, and the parties demanded political autonomy. A large workers’ demonstration in Tallinn was brutally beaten by Russian soldiers, 60 workers killed. In the countryside German manors and rectangles were looted and burned. Over 300 esters were shot before the uprising was over. After 1905 the Esters were represented in the new State Duma in St. Petersburg, and private schools in Estonian were allowed.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 ended the Russian rule in Estonia. After the March Revolution, all political parties in Estonia demanded internal autonomy, and in April the Provisional Government of Petrograd allowed all Estonian territories (the province of Estonia, Northern Livonia and the islands) to be merged into one province. It was to be governed by a government commissioner with an elected council (Maapäev) by his side. The German nobility was strongly opposed, but was not taken into account. The Council was elected in June. In September, proposals for Estonian independence came – in union with the other Baltic and Scandinavian countries – but the majority still wanted Estonian autonomy within a Russian federation.

After the Bolshevik coup in Petrograd in November 1917 (the “October Revolution”), the non-Bolshevik majority in Maapäev nevertheless called for full Estonian independence, and on November 28, Maapäev proclaimed himself the highest authority in the country.

Also in Estonia, a council movement ( Soviet ) had taken shape, primarily in the cities, where there was a significant influx of Russian workers. Within the Soviet Union, the Bolsheviks, as in Russia, steadily increased their power during 1917, and in November the Soviet Military Committee took control of strategic places in Tallinn. This may be considered the first Estonian Soviet Republic, although it had no control over the entire country. Shortly after Maapäev declared himself the country’s highest authority and prepared for independence, it was chased apart by the Soviet power in Tallinn.

Estonian War of Independence

In February 1918 elections were held for a constitutional assembly. When the Bolsheviks were able to get far fewer votes than expected, the elections were canceled. Instead, revolutionary military units were formed that both confiscated landowners’ land and waged terror against “class enemies,” including Social Democrats. Many politicians fled or went into hiding.

However, the Bolshevik takeover in the spring of 1918 was halted by German operations at the end of the First World War. German troops had entered Estonia in September 1917, and most of the country was under German control in February 1918. The Bolsheviks fled Tallinn. In the short gap between the escape of the Bolsheviks and the Germans’ march, on February 24, 1918, a liberation committee set up by the presidency of Maapäev declared Estonia as an independent state and appointed a provisional government led by Constantine Päts. It was only allowed to sit until the next day, when the Germans occupied Tallinn.

The peace agreement between the new Soviet state and Germany in Brest-Litovsk on March 3, 1918, determined that Estonia should be occupied by the Germans for the time being. In a supplementary agreement of 27 August, the Soviet government had to state its demands on Estonia.

The German military collapse in the fall of 1918 left Estonia defenseless for a Soviet offensive. The Narva was taken on November 29, and the same day an Estonian Soviet Republic was proclaimed (“Estonian workers’ municipality”). Its leader was Jaan Anvelt. This government was recognized by Moscow a week later. The Russian offensive continued in December, but was fought back in January 1919. Crucial to the “red” offensive was the help of a British naval squadron and a contingent of 2,700 Finnish volunteers.

On February 24, 1919, the Provisional Government took control of the entire country, one year after the new Estonian state was proclaimed. A recent communist attempt to revolt on the island of Saaremaa (Ösel) in February was turned down after a few days.

A peace treaty between Soviet Russia and Estonia was signed in Tartu on February 2, 1920. Thus, the Soviet government became the first to recognize Estonia’s independence.

empowerment

The new state was facing major problems. There were widespread material damage, and the business world had difficulties in transitioning as the Russian market collapsed. But both the country and the business community were rebuilt. Britain took over as its largest trading partner, from 1937 Germany took over that role.

The great social differences in the countryside were reduced by a radical land reform (1919), which particularly affected the German landowners. The number of farms doubled, more than 50,000 new ones were created, and the forest was taken over by the state. An almost symbolic replacement was later given to the old owners. The centuries-long economic and political power of the German landowner was thus crushed. Cultural life also experienced a strong upturn, and national minorities gained rights in education.

Political system

In April 1919 a constitutional assembly was elected, which on June 15, 1920 passed a constitution. Estonia became a republic and got a parliamentary form of government with a one-chamber system (parliament, Riigikogu) and proportional elections, three-year terms and voting rights for both genders. Parliament had a great influence over the government, advisory referendums were built into the system, and there should be no head of state. The necessary functions were to be taken care of by the Prime Minister, who was called “the Righteous” (Riigivanem). There were no barriers to elections, and Estonian politics was dominated by a large number of parties with no majority, and there were frequent changes in government.

The most important parties were the Conservative Peasant Party (also with membership in the citizenship), the Liberal People’s Party and the Social Democrats (from 1925 the Socialist Labor Party). Among the leading politicians were Constantin Päts (the Peasant Party), Jaan Tônisson (the People’s Party) and August Rei (the Social Democrats). The Communist Party got ten percent of the vote in the 1923 parliamentary elections, and in 1924 the Communists carried out an armed uprising in Tallinn. It was quickly knocked down, but dozens of people were killed both during the action itself and later by standing. The Communist Party was then banned.

Freedom Fighter League

The economic world crisis around 1930 hit Estonia hard. Unemployment increased, agricultural commodity prices dropped sharply and government finances were strained. The partisan political divide made it difficult to form powerful governments. In 1933, the Fascist Freedom Fighter League won a majority in a referendum for a radical constitutional reform that would give Estonia a presidential office with wide powers over the Riksdag. The freedom fighters were originally an organization of volunteers from the Estonian Freedom War in 1918-1920, but it soon gained an anti-parliamentary character, inspired by the Finnish Lappo movement, etc.

After the referendum, the country’s established politicians were intimidated by the Freedom Fighters’ progress in local elections and an increasingly violent behavior. In March 1934, Prime Minister Konstantin Pät introduced the state of emergency and conducted a coup with the support of officers and other political leaders. The freedom fighters and other extreme organizations were banned. Next year, the other parties were also banned and replaced with a “government party”, the Patriotic League. The dictatorship was relatively mild. A coup attempt by the Freedom Fighters was struck down in 1935.

In 1938, Estonia got a new constitution, with great power for the president and less for the new two-chamber national assembly. The new National Assembly met in April 1938. The opposition gained 17 out of 80 seats in the Second Chamber. Päts was elected the country’s president, and in May appointed a government. There were signs in 1938–1939 that Päts was interested in reintroducing democracy, but with the outbreak of World War II, threats to Estonia’s continued existence as an independent state became the most important issue.

Foreign Policy

The goal of Estonia’s foreign policy in the interwar period was to protect the newly gained independence. The country became a member of the League of Nations in 1921 and was neutral in relation to the great powers. The Soviet Union was fundamentally skeptical of Estonia and the other Baltic states and regarded them as a Western march against Soviet interests. At the same time, there was little interest in engaging in security politics in the Baltic States, both from the Western powers and the Scandinavian countries. Attempts to cooperate were rejected in both Finland and Sweden for fear of being blended into something that could threaten neutrality. A Baltic collaboration with Poland was impossible due to the conflict between Poland and Lithuania over Vilnius.

Attempts at Estonia-Poland approach in the 1930s only contributed to straining Estonia-Lithuania relations. Mutual regional cooperation between the Baltic states was attempted, with modest results: Estonia and Latvia signed a defense agreement in 1923, and in 1934 it was extended to Lithuania in the form of an agreement on diplomatic support and cooperation (“Baltic Council”). Estonia entered into non-assault pacts with the Soviet Union in 1932 (renewed in 1934) and Germany in 1939, without helping the least against the aggressive intentions of the two great powers.

In a secret addition to the German-Soviet non-assault pact of August 23, 1939, Estonia was placed in the Soviet sphere of interest.

World War II

After the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, the Soviet Union demanded a military alliance with Estonia and bases on Estonian territory. The Estonian government found it futile to resist the threats from Moscow, and an agreement was signed on September 28. Latvia and Lithuania had to accept similar agreements shortly thereafter, after which Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov assured that the Soviet Union would still respect the sovereignty of the Baltic States. At the same time, Germany was preparing to give the Soviet Union control of the Baltic; the German-Baltic population, with roots in the area 700 years back, was relocated to Germany.

When the winter war between the USSR and Finland broke out on November 30, 1939, the Soviet Union took over even more military bases in Estonia. The end of this war in March 1940 gave the Estonian leaders hope that the danger of further pressure from the Soviet Union was over.

Soviet occupation

On June 16, 1940, Estonia and Latvia received an ultimatum from the Soviet Union demanding an expanded military occupation and a new government that was willing and able to “honestly implement the assistance pact”. The deadline was eight hours. Moscow’s rationale was that the two countries had cooperated militarily against the Soviet Union. Lithuania had received a similar ultimatum on June 14, and surrendered. The Estonian and Latvian leaders saw no possibility of military resistance either, and accepted the demands.

On June 17, 1940, the Soviet march began, and within a few days all three countries were occupied. Following Soviet pressure and communist street protests in Tallinn, President Päts appointed a Soviet faithful prime minister, Johannes Vares-Barbarus. The new government legalized the Communist Party, passed a new electoral law by decree (in violation of the Constitution) and organized an election on 14-15. July characterized by cheating, and where opposition candidates were refused to stand. The official result was 92.9 percent for “the working people’s block”.

At its first meeting on July 21, 1940, the new parliament proclaimed an Estonian Socialist Soviet Republic. The next day, the Republic applied for entry into the Soviet Union. At a meeting of the Supreme Soviet in Moscow on August 6, Estonia was then incorporated into the Soviet Union. All parties except the communist were banned, and most of the business was taken over by the state.

President Konstantin Päts was deposed and deported to Russia in July, even before Estonia was incorporated into the Soviet Union. He died in Soviet captivity in 1956. A host of other leading men were also arrested and deported. At the largest single deportation on June 14, 1941, over 10,000 were sent to Siberia.

German occupation

Following the German attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Estonia was occupied by Germany. The Germans were initially hailed as liberators, but it did not take long before the Estonians realized that Germany would not give the country any greater freedom than the Soviet Union had done. The three Baltic countries, together with the western part of Belarus, were organized in the administrative unit Ostland with Hinrich Lohse as national commissioner. The prime minister of the entire occupied eastern regions was Alfred Rosenberg, the leading Nazi ideologue born in Tallinn.

During the three years of German occupation, several thousand esters were executed. Of the approximately 5,000 Estonian Jews, 4,500 were killed by the Germans. Several young Estonian youth were mobilized for employment services – some were also transferred to the Waffen-SS. Thousands escaped to Finland, many of whom volunteered in Finnish war service against the Soviet Union rather than fighting directly for Germany.

When the German military recession began after the Battle of Stalingrad, an Estonian National Committee was established on March 23, 1944, hoping to declare Estonia’s independence again before the Red Army moved in. Since President Päts was in Soviet captivity, the last lawful Prime Minister (1939-1940), Jüri Uluots, took over the president’s powers and in September 1944 appointed Otto Tief as the head of a provisional government. Uluots had several times during 1944 urged the Estonians to fight with the Germans to prevent a new Soviet invasion. Estonian units helped to delay the Soviet offensive by the Narva River.

The Provisional Government under Tief proclaimed Estonia’s independence on September 20, 1944, but all on September 22, the Soviet forces captured Tallinn. By the end of November, all of Estonia was occupied, and Estonia again became a Soviet republic. Over 60,000 people fled, about half to Sweden. Many perished on the sea. From Sweden, many were later extradited to the Soviet Union.

During the new Soviet occupation, about 20,000 were deported in 1945-1946. During a new deportation wave in 1949 in connection with the agricultural collectivization, several tens of thousands were deported.

Soviet Republic

Estonia was once again subjected to communist unification. In 1950–1951, local Estonian Communists were also purged in favor of Estonians raised in Russia or Russians. The country’s economy became part of the Soviet planning economy. This meant strong industrial growth, with great Russian immigration and rapid urbanization. Agriculture was collectivized. Although the standard of living was low, it was higher than the average in the Soviet Union. It increased until the mid-1970s, but then stagnated and gradually fell in the 1980s.

The extreme isolation that the country was exposed to in the first era was somewhat eased in the 1960s. There was ferry traffic to Finland, and it became possible to catch Finnish television. At the same time, several leading positions in the Estonian Communist Party and State were born in Estonia.

From the late 1970s, a new Russification of cultural life began, and immigration of Russians continued. In 1980, 40 leading Estonian intellectuals wrote during an open letter of protest against the Russification. That same fall there were major student protests and a major strike at a factory in Tartu. The requirements were primarily financial. Several opposites were arrested in the 1980s. The best known were Mart Niklus (born 1934) and Jüri Kukk (1940-1981); the latter died in a Soviet labor camp in Vologda.

The road to new independence

The celebration of the first spring day in Tallinn in 1989 became a mark of independence. The contents of the songs were nationalistic, and some had brought with them an Estonian flag of freedom. The image is taken from the paper lexicon Store Norwegian Lexicon, published 2005-2007.

Following Mikhail Gorbachev’s takeover of power in the Soviet Union in 1985 and the subsequent perestroika policy, a new movement for democratization and national independence in Estonia started. During the first protest period, from 1987, environmental issues were central. Later it was mobilized for Estonian independence and its own culture. In 1987, the Estonian cultural heritage company was founded. The Russification had led to the esters in 1989 making up only 62 per cent of the population. Both the cultural heritage company and others, which among other things revised the official history writing, had a clear national angle on their work. The deportations and executions in the 1940s were extensively discussed.

In 1987, a proposal for economic independence was presented to Estonia. In 1988, a “national front for the perestroika” was formed. The starting point was to support Gorbachev’s reform policy. Thus, liberal party members could also get involved. But the national front quickly became an active forum for thinking independently. In the summer of 1988, a series of large singing conferences were organized with hundreds of thousands of participants. It was these conferences that gave the independence process in Estonia the name “the singing revolution”.

A large demonstration in Tallinn in June 1988 with 150,000 people prompted the resignation of the reformist party leader Karl Vaino (born 1923). He was replaced by Vaino Kiesas (born 1931), who gradually oriented himself towards the opposition’s independence requirements. Another leading Communist who became more nationalist was Arnold Rüütel (born 1928). He was chairman of the Supreme Soviet (later Supreme Council) from 1983 to 1992.

Estonia was the first Baltic country to declare independence. The decision was made by Estonia’s Supreme Soviet on November 16, 1988. This meant that Estonian laws should prevail over Soviet ones, and that Estonia should be able to prevent Soviet laws in Estonia. The decision was not accepted by the Soviet Union and declared unconstitutional. In Estonia, however, a new language law was followed up in January 1989. Estonian became the official language of the republic, and it was demanded that the language be mastered in many public positions. This provoked the Russian minority and contributed to the establishment of a new organization, the International Front (Interfront), in March 1989. Both conservative Communists and supporters of reform, but who wanted the Soviet Union to continue to exist, applied for the new organization.

On the 40th anniversary of the German-Soviet pact, on August 23, 1989, a chain of about two million people was formed throughout the Baltic from Vilnius to Tallinn. They stood close together and held each other’s hands as an expression of the demand for independence. In November declared Estonia’s highest council that the Soviet annexation was illegal, and by the first free elections on March 18, 1990, supporters of independence 2 / 3 majority. When the newly elected Supreme Council met in April, Edgar Savisaar became prime minister. He had previously been head of the State Planning Commission and Deputy Prime Minister.

Many Estonians would not accept that a body that was a direct continuation of the Communist era’s Supreme Soviet should be the Estonian National Assembly. Therefore, in 1989–1990, radical nationalists organized voluntary voter registration for an alternative assembly, the Estonian Congress. Only those who had been Estonian citizens before 1940 and their descendants were entitled to vote. A majority of ethnic Estonians registered, and elections were held in February – March 1990. Congress first met in March, but lost some of its attractiveness during 1990 and 1991. Many feared that radicalism could create a dangerous situation in relations with the Soviet Union. Gradually also increased confidence that Estonia’s top councils really represented national interests.

Supporters of continued Soviet rule feared just such a development, and in May 1990 they held powerful demonstrations in Tallinn. In March 1991, Estonia boycotted the Soviet Union referendum on a new union agreement (March 18). Instead, two weeks earlier a separate referendum was held in Estonia which gave a majority of 78 per cent for independence. When the proportion of esters in the population was 62 per cent, this means that many of the minorities also voted for independence.

As in the other Baltic countries, the last phase of the independence struggle was facilitated by the failed coup d’état against Gorbachev in the USSR 19-21. August 1991. Estonia’s highest council took the opportunity to declare full independence on August 20. It was at the same time as Latvia, and was a follow-up to Lithuania’s Declaration of Independence from March 1990. In the next few weeks, the three Baltic states were recognized by a number of countries, including Norway. On September 6, the Soviet recognition of independence came, and the countries soon became members of the UN and KSSE.

Some sections of the Estonian Constitution of 1938 were reintroduced in May 1990. Following the independence in 1991, a new constitution was drafted. The form of government was supposed to be Republican and parliamentary, but with a relatively strong presidential position. The first president should be elected by direct election. Then the president was to be elected by parliament. The Constitution came into force on July 3, 1992 after being approved by a referendum in June of the same year.