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Since the restoration of its independence in 1991, Estonia has become a global leader in e-governance. It is the first country to let people from anywhere in the world become one of its 100,000 e-residents, among them Trevor Noah and Angela Merkel.
This focus on digital can bring real benefits. All Estonian citizens must register for an electronic ID, and can use it to vote online, register a company in a matter of hours, or declare their taxes in just three minutes. However, it also comes with significant vulnerabilities. In 2007, just seven years after the e-Estonia project began, the country was hit by one of the world’s largest ever cyberattacks. It took down not just government websites but banks, communications systems, and the media.
As technology continues to develop, how will Estonia find new ways to bring e-governance to its people? How can it manage fresh challenges? And how can Estonia’s experience as a digital democracy inform other countries’ policies?
Join Perry World House and the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy for the final installment of this year-long series on Democracy and Emergent Technology, examining the intersection of emergent technologies, politics, and democracy. Hear from Estonia’s Ambassador to the United States Kristjan Prikk about his country’s history pioneering the concept of e-governance and the challenges ahead.
Please note that this event is in-person only, and that a public reception will follow the program.
Ambassador Kristjan Prikk has served as Estonia’s ambassador to the United States since May 2021. This is his third diplomatic posting to Washington, DC. Before assuming his current duties, Ambassador Prikk served for nearly three years as the permanent secretary of the Estonian Ministry of Defense. In this role, he was responsible for the management of the Ministry and for the coordination of activities of the agencies under the Ministry, including the Estonian Defense Forces, the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service, and the Centre for Defense Investments. Prior to becoming the Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Prikk worked as undersecretary for defense policy in the Ministry of Defense from 2017 to 2018. From 2015 to 2017, he was the director of national security and the Defense Coordination Unit of the Estonian Government Office, coordinating the development and implementation of a whole-of-government interagency approach to national defense in Estonia and advising the Prime Minister on these issues. Ambassador Prikk holds a master’s degree from the Strategic Studies Program of the United States Army War College and a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from the University of Tartu.
Maia Otarashvili is the Director of the Eurasia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. She is co-editor of FPRI’s 2017 volume Does Democracy Matter? The United States and Global Democracy Support. Her research interests include geopolitics and security of the Black Sea-Caucasus region, Russian foreign policy, and the post-Soviet “frozen” conflicts of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria. Maia is a PhD candidate at the War Studies Department at King’s College, London. She holds an M.A. in Globalization, Development and Transition from the University of Westminster in London, with emphasis on post-authoritarian transitions.