So I had warm feelings towards Parts' government in '03 when they came into office because they were young and seemed like they cared. But after the nightmare of watching the ritualistic sacking of minister after minister in the Parts government in '04 and '05, I started to believe that Parts belonged in the opposition because he makes a great critic. And Juku didn't let us down yesterday when he scathingly tore into Estonian foreign policy:
“If we take stock of our foreign policy of recent years, we get a bleak result,” the MP from the merged opposition party Pro Patria and Res Publica Union said in his comments following a keynote address by the minister of foreign affairs ahead of a foreign policy discussion in parliament.
“We’ve lost to Russia in the propaganda war in Estonia and in Europe alike. And that is only because of our own sluggishness and passivity,” the former leader of Res Publica said in his remarks to fellow lawmakers after the speech by Foreign Minister Urmas Paet.
Parts said that Estonia at this point has no clear-cut mission in foreign policy, it lacks initiative and acquiesces in mirroring the policy of large European nations.
Parts described Estonia’s foreign policy of recent years as mediocre and lacking ambition.
Parts in right. The Russian foreign ministry has at least three English-language news services pumping out its version of Estonia to the world 24/7. And what does Estonia have? A generous post by Radio Free Europe? A helping hand now and then from The Economist? Every day when I put "Estonia" into my search engine, it comes back with four articles of Russian foreign ministry-approved pornography about those swastika-loving fascist Estonians who force their poor "compatriots" to speak to them in Estonian. So yes, in that sense, Estonia is very much losing the propaganda war. Even Georgia has its own "news service" with its own "point of view" - but Estonia has none. At the very least, the Estonian foreign ministry should have its releases circulated via all international press wires. They post it on their website, but nobody reads it!
Still, I don't like Juhan's tone. He sounds agitated, almost as if he'd rather use Russia to score points against the Reform Party (which leads in most polls for the '07 parliamentary elections) than actually work with the Reform Party so that Estonia has a coherent foreign policy. I, for one, think that it does. How "coherent" is Finnish foreign policy or Danish foreign policy? Estonia is just 1.3 million people - how "big" a foreign policy do you expect it to have? Over the past two years the country has expanded its foreign presence considerably, worked with its Nordic and Baltic partners, built up its relations with key partners like Sweden, Germany, and the UK, and scored visible visits from high-profile world leaders. That's a lot of work for one large building on Iceland Park.
So my reaction to Parts' comments is mixed. In some ways he is very right. In other ways is a living example of the phrase, "An Estonians' favorite food is another Estonian."