Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Robert Blobaum


This study examines the process of European integration of Estonia from the perspective of memory politics. The main assumption of the research is that the Estonian political elite often refers to the Soviet past of the country and its reflection in Estonian national memory to frame and guide the political discourse of European integration. In order to test this hypothesis, I analyze the speeches delivered by the leading representatives of the Estonian political elite in the process of post-Soviet transformation. The findings of the study reveal development that is seemingly a paradox. Members of Estonian political elite have attempted to move away from and maintain continuity with the Soviet past at the same time. Politicians present the achievements of their country in the process of European integration as opposed to its Soviet experience, thus stressing the negative side of the latter and emphasizing the European character of Estonia even more. In the process, politicians wish to distance Estonia from its communist past and demonstrate that this period was an aberration for Estonians. At the same time, the Estonian political elite is constantly reminding the international community of the necessity to recognize and condemn the communist crimes as was done with regard to the Nazis immediately after the end of World War II. The findings of my analysis also indicate the gradual change in Estonia's national memory narrative from backward to forward-looking. Estonian politicians wish Estonia to be seen as a European, not post-Soviet country. If in the beginning stages of postcommunist transition the main arguments for this consisted of references to the legal continuity with the First Republic of Estonia that existed in the interwar period 1918-1940, then later stages have been characterized by the replacement of the symbols that glorified the past with the future-oriented image of an innovative nation that can be a model to follow for other European states.