teisipäev, november 29, 2005

Fancy a Cup of Estonian Tea then?

Well, everybody hold your breath. Tony is coming to town! This is better than Jõulumees! Well sort of. Because it appears Jõuluvana Tony will be bringing his Baltic pals a lump of coal, namely an EU budget cup proposal that will make Eestimaa lose $320 million euros of investment. (sigh)

Well, on Thursday the British PM will enjoy some time with Estonian PM Andrus Ansip, and the Latvian and Lithuanian PMs, whoever they are. [They are currently Aigars Kalvitis and Algirdas Brazauskas, yes they are Balts, and yes they end every word with a folksy 's']

According to the AP, security will be tight:

Estonia has put in place stricter border controls ahead of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's visit to Tallinn for a meeting with his Baltic counterparts, the Estonian interior ministry said.

"From today until Friday, the data of all persons crossing the Estonian border are to be checked against an electronic data base," said interior ministry spokeswoman Katrin Vides.

The article goes on to say that:

Blair will hold talks in Tallinn on Thursday with his Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts focusing on the contentious EU budget and other issues related to next month's EU summit.

Britain holds the rotating presidency of the EU until the end of 2005.

Blair's visit will be the first by a British prime minister to Estonia, which, like its Baltic neighbours, was occupied by the Soviet Union for five decades after World War II and joined the European Union in May 2004, 13 years after regaining independence from Moscow.

First I'd like to commend the AP for getting its history right. But also I would like to add that this is a pretty historic visit. It is both easy and difficult to imagine that Blair is the first British PM to visit Tallinn. But when you think of his predecessors - John Major, Margaret Thatcher, and long before them, Winston Churchill, Neville Chamberlin, Stanley Baldwin, and Ramsay MacDonald - you get the idea that being an EU member really is a big deal when it comes to relations with your European neighbors.

Though Tony is tarnished and not his 1997 Cool Brittanic self, it's nice that he popped in for a Saku and to hear some whinging from his Baltic friends. However, I am not so sure that the...ahem...Milton Friedman disciples of the Ansip government will be jazzed about signing off on a budget that denies them a government handout. ;)

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