Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Tallinn in Estonia. The Estonian government has asked the EU Commission to make a review of Estonian innovation policies, and I was asked by the Commission to be part of the review expert group.
Estonian innovation policy makers are extremely well oriented as regards the latest thinking on systemic innovation policies and the role of learning and innovation in economic development — much more so than most of their colleagues in the “old” member countries. It seems to me that this is a reflection of a general aspect of the development of post-Soviet Estonia: A great ability to learn quickly, work hard and do what it takes to catch up with rest of Europe.
And although the Estonian’s themselves are impatient people and will complain about economic difficulties and the ongoing conflicts with Russia, they are doing very well. The economy is growing at a breath taking pace, and as far as Tallinn is concerned, what I saw was a modern, successful, European county.
(The suburbs and other parts of the country will tell you another story, they told me. I am sure it will, but what has happened in Tallinn demonstrates the possibilities).
Tallinn is a well kept and beautiful city, presenting a harmonious mix of buildings from the middle ages and up to the 19th century. For some reason the old city was protected from the ravages of Soviet concrete brutalism during the post-WWII period (apparently because of a lack of money), which means that everything inside the old city walls is worth a closer look.
Tallinn and Estonia reflects a history of shifting alliances and overlords. The Danes, the German Knights, the Swedes and the Russians have all been here and have left their imprint on the city. The close relationship to Finland is also apparent (Estonian and Finish are both Finno-Ugric languages). Now Estonia is part of both the EU and NATO.
All the pictures in this post are taken in the old city.
To get to Tallinn, you may make use of one of the many flights from various European cities. Many also take the ferry from Helsinki in Finland. The city is full of Finns, Swedes and Norwegians.