The White Book: A summary with observations (11)
Archived Articles 07 Jul 2006 Viktor VirakEWR
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The Sillamäe industrial complex and waste depot was one of the main sources of pollution concerns. In 1948, the processing of uranium ore began. There were several phases in its development. As the uranium content was low, it was replaced later by a more rich ore from Eastern Europe. 4 million tonnes of uranium ore was processed over time. In parallel, the plant started to process loparite, a radioactive mineral mined in Kola Peninsula.

Storage was enlarged to accommodate processing waste of uranium ore. There was a chance that the radioactive waste could slide into the Gulf of Finland. This concerned all Baltic Sea states. A working group was established in 1997 to resolve the problem, and make the pollution source safe by 2006. The work is funded by the European Commission and the governments of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia.

The article draws the following conclusions about the environmental situation:

1) The environmental damage caused by the Soviet Union and Russia is huge;

2) Neutralization of the damage is a long term process;

3) The damage can be neutralized only with the assistance of international co-operation. However, the main problem is that the real situation is thought to be even worse...

IX Economic Damage

In the introduction, the author states:

“If history had taken another turn and Estonia could have developed in the same political and economic conditions as Finland, and supposing that the development level of Estonia were equal to that of Finland (measured as the per capita GDP), then Estonia's GDP should have been EUR 37.2 b in current prices in 2003. The actual GDP of Estonia was only EUR 8.0 b, or one-fifth of the hypothetical value that year. (In 2003 the per year capita GDP of Estonian and Finland were 5,941 and 27,496 euros, respectively.) This is the most general and adequate assessment, albeit for one year only, of the economic damage done by the occupation and annexation of Estonia.”

Continuing, several detailed topics are discussed.

Methods to assess the damage were determined. Economists decided to analyze the results of the termination of Estonia's independence and of five decades of occupation. That is, assess the damage done by destruction of the market, based on Estonian economy. The national income not received in the past and not to be received in the coming years was thus assessed. This assessment had to be based on economic assumptions and projections. For instance, regarding oil shale, what would have been the future achievements of the industry against the background of world markets? The “socialist reconstruction” of Estonian economy, carried out in the imperial interests of the USSR, was not sustainable nor competitive at the international level.

This discussion leads to the topic of colonization of Estonia. Occupied Estonia was merged into the economic system of the USSR, as the “restoration and socialist reconstruction of Estonian economy.” It had all the characteristics of classical colonization:

a) purposeful destruction of national economic structure, created 1920-1940;

b) importation of production structure which served interest of the occupying power;

c) extensive and predatory exploitation of the local natural resources;

d) employment and migration policy, aiming to assimilate the native population;

e) isolating Estonia from the world economy.

All this was implemented, proven by very thorough statistics and descriptions in this paper. The magnitude of losses and its effect is scientifically documented

Effects of the war provided an opportunity to reorganize the economic structure of Estonia, bringing it into conformity with the interests of the Soviet Union. Required investments became a means of colonizing Estonia. The following Soviet-oriented development of Estonia was facilitated by relatively well developed production and social infrastructure and high work culture. In this situation, the most important external factor was the nearness of Leningrad. For the same reason, the industrialization was mostly based on oil shale, as described in the following.

Transformation of Estonia into Leningrad's hinterland, in economical and political sense, was the main reason why Estonia received more attention from the Central powers than other Soviet republics. Oil shale was the main factor — it provided to the population of Leningrad oil shale gas; industry and transport received liquid fuel manufactured from oil shale. Substantial investments were made in Estonia regarding oil shale resources, with two main goals: a) creation of an ex-territorial economy sector in Estonia, by subordination to the central authority, orientation to export, and low prices set on exported goods; b) by means of “socialist” industrialization of Estonian economy, assimilation of local population was achieved. In 1951-1989, Estonia population increased by 466,000, of which 241,200 (51.7%) were immigrants (from Russia).

These activities brought structural changes in economy. During the first five years of occupation, the production structure of Estonia was based on the needs of the USSR. The functional and organizational integrity of Estonian economy was liquidated; the economy of Estonia was isolated from the world economy. After 1965, the emphasis was centring to all-Union needs in the Estonian economy. This was “legalized” in the Estonian SSR constitution of 1978: “The economy of the Estonian SSR shall be a component of the unitary national economy complex, which includes all the segments of social production, distribution and exchange in the territory of the USSR.” Estonia was transformed into industrial-agricultural country, with under-development in the other sectors.

Arnold Purre commented succinctly: “The only benefit that the Estonian nation derived from the quite massive Soviet industry in the Estonian territory consisted in the possibility to get employment and earn money for sustenance.”

In the historical sequence, the period of 1957-1964 of National Economic Councils did not render the national economy of Estonia more autonomous. Indeed, interestingly it can be noted that this “local” policy brought in the biggest immigration wave (from Russia) in the post-war years.
(to be continued.)
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