Because most comparative studies of post-communist transitions concentrate on only a handful of countries (Russia, Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine, and Hungary being the most common), little Estonia has largely escaped wider notice-many consider it the most successful of all thirty-two transitions.
Laar's account is probably the most extensive study of Estonia's transition to date, detailing the problems that the new country inherited from the Soviet collapse and the policies that it adopted to manage those issues to become a ""normal"" European democracy on the verge of joining the EU and NATO. Little Country is the story of a dramatic turnaround, written by the CEO himself.
What comes across in Little Country is how Estonia managed not only to learn from other transitions, but also to invent new lessons and paradigms of its own, mainly by defying advice from "wise" foreign experts. The classic example is the IMF's advice to the caretaker (Tut Vahi) government not to leave the ruble zone by launching a new currency. (The IMF later admitted its mistake). Another was Estonia's defiance (already under Laar) in pursuing the de facto lustration of government, which some in the West called "harsh" or "witch hunting." Later, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe actually passed a resolution recommending lustration to post-communist countries. Estonia also made citizenship laws in defiance of Western groups that called them "apartheid" but later fell silent. Estonia's ultra-liberal free trade regime also raised eyebrows in Europe: "EU officials could not believe that any economy could possibly function without customs tariffs" (237). Last, but not least, Estonia went against conventional wisdom on tax reform. Eventually Eaar's flat tax proved a winner not only in Estonia, but also in the other two Baltic republics and in Russia, where it doubled tax collection while lowering and simplifying rates. Laar admits that "Estonia had to stick its neck out and hope that the ideas elaborated and proved by scholars would find verification in reality" (272). All this defiance emphasizes another of Laar's dictums: "Listen to the advisors, but in the end use your own head." Reading those passages on defiance against the mighty IMF and EU by a group of thirty-somethings, one cannot help but recall the painting by Repen, Cossacks Writing a Letter to the Sultan.
Dr. Mart Laar (born April 22, 1960) is an Estonian statesman, historian and a founding member of the Foundation for the Investigation of Communist Crimes. He was the Prime Minister of Estonia from 1992 to 1994 and from 1999 to 2002, and is the leader of the conservative party Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica. Mart Laar is credited with having brought about Estonia’s rapid economic development in the 1990s.
Laar’s reforms are referred to as the most thorough in the region and are occasionally used as a model for other transitions. The contributions to the study of transitions made by the Estonian reforms are often categorized as mainly three: lustration, economic reforms and geopolitical reorientation.
The results of the radical reforms have been recognized by Transparency International (which ranked Estonia the least corrupt country in the post-communist region), the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal (whose index qualified Estonia as the most economically free in all of Europe), the United Nations Development Program United Program (whose Human Development Index measured Estonia’s rapid rise in such quality-of-life parameters as education, health, income and environment ), and the Cato Institute, which awarded Laar the Cato Institute’s Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty in 2006.
The Acton Institute awarded Dr. Laar their Faith & Freedom Award on October 24, 2007.
The World Bank's Doing Business project has several times recognized Estonia as the top reformer in improving the business environment. Estonia is currently ranked 17 (of 178 economies) on the ease of doing business index.
Mart Laar has been appointed to the Advisory Board of the European Association of History Educators (EUROCLIO).
Личен сайт: http://www.martlaar.ee/eng/