Estonian government opens doors to an eager public

Tallinn - Government ministries in the Baltic nation of Estonia threw their doors open to the public Wednesday as part of the country's celebrations to mark 90 years since it first declared independence.

Estonia prides itself on its open governance, frequently scoring well in international surveys for its low levels of corruption and high transparency of information.

But on Wednesday, designated "Citizens' Day," it took things one step further by inviting the general public through the hallowed portals of government.

All state ministries, plus the president's chancellery, were opened so that visitors could listen to lectures, view exhibitions, meet ministers and participate in debates.

The open house day was devised to mark the fact that 90 years ago many Estonian state institutions were first established.

At the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, visitors heard a debate between three ministers on the future of the Estonian economy, plus lectures on energy, economic development, the domestic market and transport.

At the Ministry of Defence, a lecture covered defence policy, and a photo exhibition on the Russian-Georgian war was on display.

Other ministries covered topics including e-health, pensions, euro adoption and the environment.

Riina Soobik, a spokesperson with the state chancellery told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa the response from the public had been excellent, with several hundred participants at each of the larger ministries.

"It seems that interest in visiting the chancellery is very big - almost all available places have been filled," she said. (dpa)