Estonia for U.S. officials
Estonia, a tiny Baltic nation dwarfed by neighboring Russia, isn’t a premier American tourist destination. But when Vice President Mike Pence arrived there on Sunday he was just the latest in a parade of senior Washington officials to visit in recent months.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) led a congressional delegation to Estonia in December and so did Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) in June. America’s top NATO general dropped by in March, followed soon after by House Speaker Paul Ryan in April. President Barack Obama himself gave a September 2014 address in the Estonian capital of Tallinn.
Why all the fuss over a nation of just 1.3 million with a landmass roughly half the size of Maine? The short answer is Russian President Vladimir Putin. And the whole world's fears of a possible invasion through the Baltics.
In that sense all three Baltic nations — Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia – have stepped up their diplomatic contacts with the U.S. in recent years. The countries together host thousands of NATO troops stationed along Russia’s border as part of the alliance’s "enhanced forward presence". Over 11,000 troops participated in an annual exercise known as SABRE STRIKE in the Baltic region last month. Estonia has bolstered its cyber defenses and know-how. The country is home to a NATO cyber center and hosts an annual cyber war game called “Locked Shields,” which U.S. European Command participated in last year.
So now U.S. officials describe Estonia as the brightest of the Baltics, thanks to its strongly pro-U.S. posture, robust defense spending and relative sophistication of its economy.
“Both from the e-commerce and the business side of it, the military aspects, and sharing best practices, Estonia is really leading the way in that region of the world,” the senior administration official said.
The tech-savvy nation—the birthplace of Skype and sometimes called “e-Stonia”—has moved governance onto the cloud. Each citizen has a chip-enabled national ID card which allows them to file taxes, complete public school forms and even vote online. And it is only a part of all the innovations.
One will typically ask: so what? Why may this information be interesting to event professionals? Well, we suppose this is a great sign of country's and Baltic region's potential for arranging huge events. If it is ok for NATO "parties" than we have all the chances to host other massive festivities and to overcome our biggest fear of having no practive and no venues for really big occasions.
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