The Berlin International Economics Congress

An Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Roles of Global Politics & Civil Society in International Economics

(Berlin; February 4th - 7th, 2010)

Mart Laar

Former Prime Minister of Estonia

Mart Laar was born on the 22nd April 1960 in Viljandi, a town in Southern Estonia. He went to school in Tallinn and afterwards attended Tartu University where he received a degree in history in 1983. He went on to teach history for three years before being appointed Head of the Historical Memories department at the Ministry of Culture. Following Estonia’s independence from the Soviet Union he was elected to the Estonian Parliament in the early nineties with as a candidate for the conservative Pro Patria Union party.

In 1992 he was subsequently appointed as Prime Minister, a position he held until 1994. He was credited with planning and implementing the more pervasive economic and political reforms amongst the post-communist Eastern European countries. The reforms included a restructuring of the banking sector to make it more transparent and market-oriented, a programme of privatisation of many state-owned industries and introducing a new fiscal regime centred around the flat tax.

In foreign affairs, Laar’s government prompted a geo-political orientation towards the West and the European Union while distancing itself from Russia. In 1999, when he headed his second government, he was instrumental in promoting Estonia in EU accession talks and in leading Estonia to NATO membership. He is internationally acclaimed for the success of his policies by the UN Development Programme and many international foundations.

Mart Laar is also a historian: he received his MA in 1995 and published many books on Estonian and Soviet history, including the internationally acclaimed title War in the Woods: Estonia's Struggle for Survival, 1944–1956.