Cooperation with Nordic countries is important to Estonians

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Inspired by the 100th anniversary of the independence in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia commissioned a telephone survey in order to gauge public opinion regarding cooperation with the Nordic countries.

“It was satisfying to see that 91% of Estonians think that the cooperation with the Nordic countries is important (65%) or very important (26%) and that a clear majority would like to cooperate even more,” said Christer Haglund, the director of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia. “That means there’s demand for more joint projects and for a strong Nordic presence in Estonia.”

According to the respondents, the basis of cooperation with the Nordic countries is the need for small countries to cooperate and their geographical proximity. The economy, education and science are considered the most important sectors for cooperation. Estonians named the development of the IT sector and digital services as the best contribution Estonia can make in cooperation with its Nordic neighbours. Increasing trade and competitiveness, in addition to learning from one another, are considered the greatest benefits of cooperation.

However, there are also Nordic characteristics which are not quite as appreciated: immigration policies and openness to refugees are clearly things that Estonians in particular are sceptical about, much more so than their neighbours in Latvia and Lithuania.

When asked to spontaneously name a person or character that comes to mind when thinking about the Nordic countries, Estonian respondents mentioned Finnish president Sauli Niinistö most frequently.

The opinion poll was carried out by Turu-uuringute AS between 16 February and 9 March, during which time 600 Estonian residents aged 16+ were interviewed. This is the first such poll ever conducted in the Baltic States by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia has a history of 27 years of operations in the country. ‘Together we are stronger’ is a Nordic slogan, and it also applies to Nordic cooperation with the Baltic States. This cooperation is based on equal terms and shared values concerning human rights, tolerance, equality and good governance. Each year thousands of Estonians take part in activities initiated or supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The results of the opinion poll will guide operations in the Baltic States in the coming years. 

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