Case 251 - After the Empire: Estonia and Russia Negotiate Borders and Citizenship
Thompson, Wayne C.
Border disputes are among the most complicated, serious international conflicts in which any nation can be involved. This two-part case study describes the contentious Estonian-Russian negotiations following the collapse of the Soviet Union, which were further complicated by the controversy surrounding Estonia’s restrictive citizenship laws. Looking at the connection between both issues, this case highlights the interaction of domestic and foreign policy. It also illustrates how few nations have the luxury of isolating certain important domestic political problems from other competing domestic challenges, or from their relations with the outside world.
Students will discover how bitter historical memories, public opinion, the press, nationalist sentiments, and elections in democratic countries make reaching agreements more difficult; how large and small neighbors deal with each other; and how the international setting affects the search for negotiated solutions. This case can be taught as a role-playing exercise. Other case studies which could usefully be assigned on this general topic include “From Russia to Kaliningrad: The Case of Russian Transit Rights Through Lithuania” (Case Study 230) and “The Long Good-Bye: The Withdrawal of Russian Military Forces from the Baltic States” (Case Study 231).