An Estonian inspiration
A CORNWALL councillor visited the Estonian Parliament to learn how a small nation can run its own affairs.
Mebyon Kernow's Andrew Long, who represents Callington on the unitary authority and also sits on the town council, was invited to the Estonian Parliament – known as the Riigikogu – while visiting friends and family in the Baltic State.
The new republic gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
"It was a great opportunity to see how a small nation can run its own affairs while being an equal and active part of a wider Europe," said Mr Long.
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"Estonia has 11,000 years of history and a rich and varied culture, which has many similarities to the Celtic culture of Cornwall and the Celtic arc of nations.
"The effects, however, of more than 45 years of Soviet occupation will take decades to recover from, and the stark history is in plain view across the country with the abandoned state farms particularly prominent."
Mr Long said he was impressed with the way the country had embraced new technology, not only for voting in the Parliament itself, but for the electors of Estonia.
He said they could now vote in a number of ways including online in local, regional, national and European elections.
Mr Long was given the tour of the Riigikogu by Aare Heinvee, the Reformierakond (Reform Party) MP from Harjumaa district to the south of the capital of Tallinn.
His constituency includes the town of Keila, which has a friendship link with Callington.