Estonia has been the leader of the Baltic states in most economic measures since independence from the Soviet Union. Now it appears poised to be a leader in Europe at large.
Baltic Business News reports that Estonia boasts the lowest government debt in the entire European Union. In this, it beats not only obvious candidates such as Greece and Italy, but also those proud Northern states such as Germany who have gotten by on a better reputation for austerity than their actual performance dictates. In case anyone from Germany is reading this and scowling, it is worth adding that Estonia’s numbers were also the lowest by percentage of GDP.
The ongoing tragedy of the former Soviet Union is that there are so many dynamic people and countries waiting to be unleashed, held back even now, two decades later, by nearly a century of brutal oppression and the destruction of their civil societies. Estonia — who like her Baltic sisters, desperately longed to rejoin the West while in captivity — is showing the way. The question now is whether the other states are ready and willing to catch up — and whether a Europe that fumbles its own identity and its own finances is prepared to accept them.