Ansip unimpressed by Putin’s boycott appeal

Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip has stressed he is not worried about his country’s economic performance despite calls for a boycott of products.

The conservative politician told Austrian magazine profil: “I do agree that there is room to improve our political relationship with Russia. However, the economic cooperation is getting better. A tenth of our exports go to Russia despite Mister Putin’s (Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin) appeal to boycott products from Estonia.”

Estonia became the 17th member of the Eurozone in January 2011. Asked whether he regretted the decision to introduce the Euro as the Baltic country’s currency considering the economic turmoil in Greece and other member states, Ansip said: “We are still content with our decision because the Euro is important for our economic development.”

The Estonian prime minister explained foreign investors were less sceptical about doing business in the country now than in the global crisis in 2009.

The Estonian government carried out a strict spending cut scheme to get in shape economically for the Euro. Nevertheless, Ansip’s Estonian Reform Party was confirmed in the most recent elections. “I’m grateful that Estonians showed patience and understanding for the urgently needed reforms. (…) We don’t want to burden our children and grandchildren with debts,” the prime minister told profil.

Estonia has a leading role in slashing bureaucratic barriers by focusing on the internet. Most households are connected to the internet and, according to profil, 94 per cent of tax declarations are handed in online.

“We had to catch up a lot after having declared our independence in 1991. At the same time, we wanted to abandon the old, Soviet-style bureaucratic system. It was just a logical step to create an efficient e-services network,” Ansip said.

Meanwhile, Austria was found last in Europe as far as the average time people spend online is concerned. Residents of the Alpine country – which joined the Eurozone in 2002 – surf the World Wide Web (WWW) 14 hours a month, which is half the European average. People living in the Netherlands are ahead with 35.2 monthly internet hours, followed by Britons (33.9 hours) and residents of Turkey who go online 31.8 hours a month.

Tax concerns and other issues can be handled online in Austria as well. However, many people are still hesitant about using the WWW to do so.