neljapäev, detsember 21, 2006

Londongrad, Here We Come!

Well this is good news for the unemployed of Ida-Virumaa county, the ones that Amnesty International is worried about. Today, the Council of the European Union has decided to permit non-citizen residents of Latvia and Estonia to travel in the EU without visas.

The decision, approved by the EU's 25 agriculture ministers yesterday at the advice of the European Parliament and EU justice ministers, opens the Union's doors to more than 500,000 "resident aliens" of mainly Russian origin.

I've said this many times, but I'll say it again. The reason there is higher unemployment in Ida Virumaa is because Soviet population transfer policies created an unsustainable demographic situation, where thousands of people were enticed to live in a region that cannot, in the long-term, support them.

For example in Kohtla Järve, the population went from 20,000 in 1959 to 80,000 in 1989. That's crazy. Hopefully those newcomers that couldn't make it in Estonia can press their luck elsewhere.

32 kommentaari:

the other mel ütles ...

I think that is an over-simplification and borderline racist way of looking at things. As much as I resent Soviet policies and occupation, there are good, solid people in Ida-Virumaa. We bad mouth Sillamäe, but Silmet (Vähi all...) has actually been a contributing factor to stability in Ida-Virumaa and to Estonia's economy.

The biggest problems was that the initial set of investments focused on Tallinn and where there was a labour pool. The amount of investments into Kreenholm early on was better than other parts of Estonia, so Ida-Virumaa was doing okay. But the problem was it was not high value products and the jobs were soon lost due to China (well, Elcoteq was seen as a "boom" for Harjumaa too but look what happened there too).

Ida-Virumaa is symptomatic of a lack of investment outside of Harjumaa and Tartumaa and maybe Pärnumaa. Jõgevamaa isn't doing much better and they are not as burdened with the history issue.

I used to live a few blocks from the 'Kalinka' shop. Next to it is an Arab-owned convenience shop that sells Polish beer. And the owner speaks both Polish and Russian. So maybe you are right, especially considering the council binliners (that's city garbage bags to you Yanks) are also printed in Russian...

But Giustino, please don't just blame people that were pushed into Ida-Virumaa. They are at least trying. They do not subscribe to the BS visions of Putin, Lavrov & sõbrad.

Giustino ütles ...

But Giustino, please don't just blame people that were pushed into Ida-Virumaa. They are at least trying. They do not subscribe to the BS visions of Putin, Lavrov & sõbrad.

This is a sensitive topic that can be easily misconstrued especially from an Estonian historical viewpoint. But my point is not that this is "good for Estonia" but that it is good for those people that can't make it in Estonia.

I think that here in the Americas we have similar situations where economic policies moved people to work in projects that evaporated. Then the people were left to make ends meet without the safety net that once existed for them.

Take Oakland, California for example. During World War II, Oakland was a hub of ship building and attracted a large labor pool from the South. During the war years they enjoyed considerable prosperity. But when those industries relocated, the workers' standard of living pluemmeted, until Oakland in the 1960s was a center of poverty and crime.

It's comparable to what has happened in Ida Virumaa. People came for work that eventually went elsewhere. Now they are stuck with higher unemployment and the problems that accompany it - alcoholism, drug use, and associated consequences (HIV).

If they are free to move around the EU with less bureaucracy then that's good for them! If they just can't get a good deal in Estonia, then why not try life elsewhere?

Purc ütles ...

Well there are thousands of Russians who obviously resent Estonia and Estonians, this is a good chance for them. They will not have to put up with the "fascism" in Estonia and Estonians will not have to put up with the friends of Stalin who sicken everyone with their hammers and sickles.

Giustino ütles ...

Jõgevamaa isn't doing much better and they are not as burdened with the history issue.

Between 1990 and 2005, Ida Virumaa lost about 50,000 people, 22 percent of its population.

Jõgevamaa lost about 5,000 people, or about 12 percent of its population.

Interestingly, the number of ethnic Estonians in Ida Virumaa is about 34,000 (40,000 in '90) - similar to Jõgevamaa. They have declined at a similar rate to Jõgevamaa, too.

So it is my interpretation that the huge flood of emigrants you see in Ida Virumaa is reaction of the newer urban population to the collapse of the Soviet economy.

I guess some can argue that the Estonian government is not attracting enough investment to Ida Virumaa. That could be true. I'm interested to hear more.

cbr ütles ...

Not enough investment to Ida-Virumaa? What about Sillamäe port, Silmet, new energy blocks of Narva's power plants, the brick factory in Aseri (single biggest foreign investment to Estonia at ~2billion EEK, IIRC). VKG (Viru Keemia Grupp) is developing nicely. I don't think it's so bad, it's just nobody wants to take care of the old buildings and that's why it still looks bad in general. Youngsters in Kohtla-Järve better beat up city property than paint their house.

Estonia in World Media (Rus) ütles ...

Unfortunately doesn't solve their problem a bit. Can travel, can't work.

Giustino ütles ...

Unfortunately doesn't solve their problem a bit. Can travel, can't work.

Of course they can work! They just can't work legally.

Anonüümne ütles ...

"I guess some can argue that the Estonian government is not attracting enough investment to Ida Virumaa. That could be true. I'm interested to hear more."...
actually, my company is trying to shift some work from tallinn to ida-virumaa due to the labour-market situation in tallinn...and all what i have seen in ida-viru during my first trips' in that region...there are investments, there are already companies who have worked before in tallinn...there is the estonian government trying to improve the situation in ida-viru through agencies like:
http://www.investinestonia.com/
or the ida-viru enterprise center www.ivek.ee ...
so, there is progress but, from our point of view as willing investors', also ida-viru will soon reach a level of wages/unemployment rate as it is in tallinn...bad luck for us but good for the people there...

Anonüümne ütles ...

Hey - the Russian-speakers may even learn English too ... or will they complain that they've been discriminated there too and run to Amnesty?

Huw, Wales
http://walesworldnation.welshblogs.co.uk

Estonia visitor ütles ...

"Hey - the Russian-speakers may even learn English too ... or will they complain that they've been discriminated there too and run to Amnesty?"

I don't think this is as big a problem as getting them to learn Estonian. There isn't the same "pride" issue, I guess. Plus in the grand scale of languages, I believe English comes across as just ever so slightly easier than Estonian. I remember when I went to Narva-Joesuu (spelling???) in the summer, and all the service staff there spoke very good english to me, it was only when they had to answer my girlfriend in Estonian that they gave halting replies (but at least they were TRYING - it annoys me when Estonians, including my girlfriend, take the piss out of the Russians who do try, even if not perfect).

On another note, let's see, according to various sources, I live in "Londonistan", now "Londongrad"... what next??? It's getting a bit annoying. You could apply the same logic to New York I believe! Giustino, isn't Brighton Beach full of Russians and Ukrainians? Aren't parts of the city predominantly latin-immigrant based?

Giustino ütles ...

Hey - the Russian-speakers may even learn English too ... or will they complain that they've been discriminated there too and run to Amnesty?

Huw, Wales
http://walesworldnation.welshblogs.co.uk


Better yet, they can learn Welsh!

It annoys me when Estonians, including my girlfriend, take the piss out of the Russians who do try, even if not perfect.

Estonians want it both ways. They want their Slavs to join Estonian society but at the same time they are very protective of their society. Therefore you get Estonians encouraging Slavs to learn, and then criticizing their skills.

There's also a "look whose the boss, now" attitude among some. And I'll have to add that just as some Estonians can be dicks, so can Russian speakers. Can you imagine standing in your own land and having someone tell you to speak a "human language" like Russian (which sounds like someone blowing their nose and is written in some alien alphabet)?
I can see how this attitude became reversed.

Giustino, isn't Brighton Beach full of Russians and Ukrainians? Aren't parts of the city predominantly latin-immigrant based?

I tried parking in Brighton Beach and stuck my head out the window and asked someone a question in English, to which came back a startled look of surprise and the reality that many people there only speak Russian.

But I welcome Russian (and Polish - there are a lot of Poles near where I live too) because it competes with Spanish which is the de facto second language of the city. So many things are printed in both languages - and it can be confusing. For example, the back of my metro card is in Spanish. I can basically understand it from reading it - but still it's a force to be reckoned with.

Too bad we don't get more Brazilians up here. I like Portuguese more than Spanish. Spanish is fast and monotonous. Portuguese is comforting and funky.

Estonia visitor ütles ...

One thing I wondered, why are the EU AGRICULTURAL ministers the ones to decide on this issue? Seems a bit odd...

"Russian (which sounds like someone blowing their nose and is written in some alien alphabet)?"

Now now... leaving aside the politics of the situation, many people do consider it a rich and beautiful language! No offence, but I have heard English spoken by some New Yawkers and it's not exactly a selling point for the language!

"Of course they can work! They just can't work legally."

So they are now in the position of the Bulgarians and the Romanians as of January 1.

"I tried parking in Brighton Beach and stuck my head out the window and asked someone a question in English, to which came back a startled look of surprise and the reality that many people there only speak Russian."

Sounds like Lasnamae! (just substitute Estonian for English).

There are some who seem to think the more Russians out of the country the better, but is that really true? Isn't there already a draining of the workforce? If a significant part of the population of Estonia decided to up sticks and move, it would have pretty serious consequences for the country's economy, wouldn't it? And then Estonia would be in the position of having to import workers, and given the comparatively low wages (by EU standards) the only places from which they could attract these workers would be the slavic countries to the east... going right back to square one...

One thing I know, just browsing professional ads in the papers here in London, a young Russian-Estonian with full working rights who has fluent English and Russian would be more in demand than a young ethnic Estonian with fluent English and Estonian.... just the way of the world, Russian is a widely spoken language. I saw an ad for a Russian speaking secretary for close to $50,000 a year!

All I'm saying is, if the Estonians and Latvians don't want them, there are plenty of firms across Europe who would be happy to have EU citizens with fluent knowledge of a language spoken by what, 250 million people? Especially given the growing importance of Russia and other former Soviet Republics when it comes to energy supplies... So... be careful what you wish for, you may just get it!

OK enough of that, got to get out of here, cos like the title says, I'm "itching for Estimaa". Actually was supposed to go last night but the fog that's hit much of England forced all the flights to be cancelled. Kurat! What a scene! Dozens of Finns and Swedes and a few Estonians, pissed off because our connecting flight thru Stockholm got cancelled. True to form, the Finns complained quite loudly while the Estonians were very softspoken and shy... Anyway, hope my flight tomorrow isn't cancelled and I'm sitting with a saku this time tomorrow evening!

Giustino ütles ...

Now now... leaving aside the politics of the situation, many people do consider it a rich and beautiful language! No offence, but I have heard English spoken by some New Yawkers and it's not exactly a selling point for the language!

Oh God, it's awful. I wonder why people talk like they do, they make everything sound worse than it is.
The beautiful sounding "flowers" becomes the awful sounding "flauwazz." Gross.

All I'm saying is, if the Estonians and Latvians don't want them, there are plenty of firms across Europe who would be happy to have EU citizens with fluent knowledge of a language spoken by what, 250 million people?

It's a good thing. People that don't have a future in Estonia and don't want to go to Russia have other options now. That's fine.

I think Estonia in the long-term should invest more in IT, financial services, biotechnology and the like. Even with 1.3 million people it's not a great sell for manufacturing. And with all this talk about energy recently, I wonder why people aren't investing more in wind farms or solar power - especially in a northern country like Eestimaa.

dresolve ütles ...

Now that they will be able to legally travel in the EU visa-free the stateless people in Estonia have even less of an incentive to learn the language of their country of residence.

I wonder if this change will encourage Russians in Estonia to travel to another EU country or beyond and declare political asylum citing the "discrimination" they have endured as part of their claim.

To do so would certainly reinforce the narrative/myth that "Russians are discriminated against in Estonia" which Russian Gov't keeps repeating and which seems to me more and more people across the world are starting to believe or even worse not bothering to acknowledge as invalid.

That this narrative from Russian government has become so pervasive and accepted scares the crap out of me. I’m not going to discuss here its implications in the event of future political instability in former USSR. But in the present day Russia is using this myth as a bargaining chip with Europe. I wish more of European and world leaders cared enough and had the balls to call bullshit on Russia and its misinterpretation of history. At the very least officially acknowledge in current dealings with Russia that the Soviet Union OCCUPIED the Baltics. If the Soviets were really liberators the Baltics would have regained their independence after 1945. If Russia is going to act as successor to the Soviet Union then it should be called to task for the bad as well as the good points of its history. Instead Europe and the world largely remains silent on this issue and gives the Russian argument credence as a result. Silence is dangerous.

Anonüümne ütles ...

There are some who seem to think the more Russians out of the country the better

There are obviously SOME who really feel that way. I call them crazy.
But if you replace the word "Russians" with "Soviets", you'll get the opinion of the large majority...

cbr ütles ...

I wonder why people aren't investing more in wind farms or solar power - especially in a northern country like Eestimaa.

On the solar power comment - hello! 3 months of darkness and relatively low sun all year round. Not very profitable.
And people are actually investing in wind farms.. but the energy grid can't take too much of them and Eesti Energia doesn't seem exactly happy to integrate too many of them because mining oil shale is just so much more profitable.

dresolve ütles ...

George Bush during his visit to Estonia:


We talked about the fact that Estonians want to be able to travel to America visa-free. Both the President and the Prime Minister made this a important part of our discussions. They made it clear to me that if we're an ally in NATO, people ought to be able to come to our country in a much easier fashion. It is clear to me that this is an important issue for the Estonian people, as well. I appreciate their leaders being straightforward and very frank. There's no question where they stand.
I am pleased to announce that I'm going to work with our Congress and our international partners to modify our visa waiver program. It's a way to make sure that nations like Estonia qualify more quickly for the program and, at the same time, strengthen the program's security components.
The new security component of the visa waiver program would use modern technology to improve the security regime for international travelers to and from the United States. In other words, we need to know who is coming, and when they're leaving. And the more we share -- can share information, the easier it will be for me to get Congress to make it easier for Estonians to travel to the United States.


If we were to suppose for a moment that Bush wasn’t really blowing smoke and it would one day be possible to travel visa-free to US with an Estonian passport, maybe that would be an incentive for a stateless person in Estonia to pass the language requirement and become a citizen?

I wonder what the age and geographical breakdown is for stateless citizens in Estonia. Would anyone with access to Estonian resources be able to further enlighten English-speaking audience on this topic? If many stateless residents left in Estonia are older the appeal of visa-free travel to US may be “not so much.”

Giustino ütles ...

Would anyone with access to Estonian resources be able to further enlighten English-speaking audience on this topic? If many stateless residents left in Estonia are older the appeal of visa-free travel to US may be “not so much.”

The data is all over the place. I have read that there are anywhere between 100,000 and 130,000 stateless persons in Estonia.

According to the Population Affairs Ministry, as of three weeks ago the number of stateless was 127,837. The number naturalized since 1992 is 142,985.

This is really a question for an expert. But I think we won't have a thorough picture until the next census in 2011.

T. ütles ...

Giustino, how much do you know about Russian langauage and culture? You probably don't separate any words when you hear it...For me it was the same wih French until I started to learn it. It seemed unbelievable that this sound is made up of words and can be understood:) I wonder, have you read any Russian novels or poetry? Seen any films, plays? Have you liked any of them? (I'm just curious :))

Giustino ütles ...

Giustino, how much do you know about Russian langauage and culture? You probably don't separate any words when you hear it...For me it was the same wih French until I started to learn it. It seemed unbelievable that this sound is made up of words and can be understood:) I wonder, have you read any Russian novels or poetry? Seen any films, plays? Have you liked any of them? (I'm just curious :))

I really enjoy Russian classical music. But I am not a big consumer of intellectual fare. I will say that I have seen a lot of Scandinavian films and Italian and French films.

That just happened in life -- I didn't seek it out. When I was younger we just happened to watch Ingmar Bergman, Fellini, and Jeunet and Caro films.

HOWEVER, my comment was purely for the purposes of being an asshole :)
Like all languages, Russian can sound gorgeous and it can sound ugly. It depends on the speaker and the context, not on the language.

STILL, I read many stories that say something like, "Russians in Estonia are being forced to learn the very difficult Estonian language" and I occasionally seek to remind people that Russian isn't that much easier (for an English speaker) and perhaps even more difficult for an Estonian speaker.

I mean, which is easier for me to read, Äripäev or Арипяев?

t. ütles ...

It seems to me that you are focused on Russian politics only, and it makes you angry, which is so understandable. But there is more to Russia than politics. If you had had personal experience, contacts,you'd see it differently, I think. You could find deep humanism, great values in Russian films, literature. This probably is a paradox, having regard to the politics... There is so much to enjoy in Russian culture, and even in contacts with the simple people. It is a whole different world. You can discover it and take the best of it to enrich yourself, you don't have to accept or approve it all.

I'm not sure if I can explain what I mean...For me as an Estonian, Russia is something that I think I understand pretty well, and I see its faults and its values, and I can enjoy the values...It is not what I am, but a part of the world around me, just like Scandinavian and American culture etc. I think I just choose to concentrate on the positive of Russia.

You see, Epp does the same - she likes the old good Russian cartoons and her kind, simple neighbours...I think if you'd try to see the Russian topic also from the non-political point of view, it could be interesting for you. And useful, especially if you will study the Baltics:)

notsu ütles ...

... and there really are very different Russian languages around. Even within the "E-Russian" dialect, the Russian spoken by a student of semiotics and the Russian spoken by a drunk who has had 8 yrs of education are two different worlds.

If you like European art-house cinema, then I think you'd like Tarkovsky, for instance, too. But there is much more in Russian cinema.

Of less artsy films, I recommend "Sherlock Holmes" with Livanov and Solomin (I think the latter has made the most naive Watson, ever).

Giustino ütles ...

It seems to me that you are focused on Russian politics only, and it makes you angry, which is so understandable.

One of the purposes of this blog is to counter false statements about Estonia, most of which come from the Russian media and foreign ministry.

I think if you'd try to see the Russian topic also from the non-political point of view, it could be interesting for you. And useful, especially if you will study the Baltics:)

You know, before I met Epp, I was planning to visit a very nice Russian woman in St. Petersburg, but, as you see, life turned out differently.

I have never had a bad personal relationship with a Russian person. Nearly every single person I have met that is Russian has been friendly and open.

On the flip side, I can't say that I enjoy places like Brighton Beach as much as Epp does. She truly enjoys the chaos of Russian culture, but I always feel sick at the end -- it's too chaotic, the 80s-style pop music gets on my nerves after awhile, et cetera. When I leave I always feel relief -- as if I got off a rollercoaster.

I much prefer places like Estonia or Finland -- where life is quiet and peaceful -- to that. To me, the Nordic countries (including Estonia) are like one big dose of aspirin.

For whatever reasons, other art has figured more prominently in my life. So often I have heard, "you've got to see this Spanish film!" but I never hear "you've got to see this Russian film."

There are other European countries like that. Germany, for example, doesn't seem to export a ton of cinema to the US. The last German language film I remember seeing was "Run Lola Run." That was in 1998.

But I am not a big consumer of that stuff. I like seeing it, but I don't seek it out that often. When it comes to foreign titles I usually take out Italian films so I can learn some more language.

t. ütles ...

I wouldn't suggest the Russian "Sherlock Holmes", or any other film where Russians play Englishmen (or whomever else). The genuine Russian things are much better. The first film that comes to my mind is the old touching "Omal soovil armunud". Then Eldar Rjazanov's comedies. Of poetry, I like love lyrics by Akhmatova, Blok, of course Pushkin. Of contemporary prose, Yuri Trifonov is worth to be read, "maja kaldapealsel" and other novels (his frequent theme about invisible threads connecting people in past and present).

notsu ütles ...

If you watch Russian "Sherlock Holmes" with expectations to see something quintessentially British, you probably would be disappointed, but if you watch it just as it is, it is a real treat.. In IMDB a reviewer writes that "once, a poll was conducted in England, and Vassily Livanov and Vitaliy Solomin were found the best ever impersonation of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the movies all over the world". So it has been at least entertaining for English people. And the rating in IMDB is 8,7, which is pretty good.

But it seems strange that so little is known about Russian cinema in US. I mean, what about all those fans of sci-fi, if they haven't even seen the cult film "Stalker"? Not to speak about original version of "Solaris" (although they speak that the Hollywood remake wasn't so bad after all).

A reading suggestion: a great Tallinn-Russian writer, Sergei Dovlatov. Quite an easy read (but really, really good), so he's a good author to start reading in Russian, IMO. But there are several translations into Estonian; maybe to English too, who knows.

Giustino ütles ...

so he's a good author to start reading in Russian, IMO. But there are several translations into Estonian; maybe to English too, who knows.

Russian is towards the bottom of my list of languages to learn. Estonian is first, Italian second, and maybe Portuguese third.

One can only accomplish so much in their life.

notsu ütles ...

Anyway, he's worth reading, in whatever language it happens. In several books of his oevure he gives a good picture of Soviet era in Tallinn.

But about foreign languages... you know, it is said that only the first three are hard, the rest comes more easily... Russian is just another indo-european language after all, so it cannot be SO hard.

Giustino ütles ...

But about foreign languages... you know, it is said that only the first three are hard, the rest comes more easily... Russian is just another indo-european language after all, so it cannot be SO hard.

Perhaps. My friend has a Slovakian girlfriend and I am glad that I am learning Estonian and not Slovakian. In Estonian "kitten" is "kiisu." In Slovakian, it's "micicka." I guess you get the hang of it, but having a similar alphabet helps me.

I listened to some Portuguese tapes in my car once. I would love to know that language -- that way I can understand my favorite singers. I think I can sort of understand some now, just from listening so much.

"Onde ando o meu amor" - "where is our love going?" or something like that... eu sou uma grande flor de MPB!

Estonia visitor ütles ...

"Russian isn't that much easier (for an English speaker)"

I tried both and I completely disagree with you.

Once you get past the different alphabet and memorise the rules, Russian is a lot more "reliable". Estonian has 14 cases, and to decline them you need to know the genitive and guess what! there is no formula to get the genitive from the nominative! You just have to KNOW it! And thats without throwing in all the irregularities!

If I discover a new word in Russian, I have a pretty good idea how to use it in a sentence, whether in an accusative, dative or genitive sense. If I learn one in Estonian, I would blindly be guessing!

Giustino ütles ...

Estonian has 14 cases, and to decline them you need to know the genitive and guess what! there is no formula to get the genitive from the nominative! You just have to KNOW it! And thats without throwing in all the irregularities!

What I meant was that it is easier for me to speak Estonian than other languages. It is easier on the mouth and throat. After a day of speaking a lot of Estonian you still feel alright. It's easy for my English-speaking mouth to make the adjustments. I cannot say the same for Danish. Even moderate use of that language with its swallowed "r" - as in "Rødovre" - left my throat feeling awful. Like I was gagging on my tongue the whole time! I was glad when I stopped having to speak it.

Russian for me presents problems similar to Danish. There's a lot of "zzzzzz" - in fact that seems to be the base sound around all other sounds dance. One of the reasons I had a hard time figuring out Russian in Tallinn was that I couldn't imitate the sounds. The word for "good" sounded sort of like "a horror show (a haralzho)" and there was some sort of noise coming from the back of the throat. Even for a greeting like "stras vou tye" I could hear that "zzzzz" buzzing underneath. So a wall went up in my mind.

When I first was introduced to the Finnish language group, I didn't have that problem. The words, though strange, seemed sort of attractive. Don't you want to drink a glass of "maito"? Don't you just want to use a magic "puhelin" to call your friend? Don't you want to kick back and relax for the entire holiday month of "joulukuu"?

Plus our Finnish host mother used words that were easy to sympathize with. She called her son something like "minu kuldne" (my gold), and it was very easy for me to relate to those words, and understand that a "vaimo" was a wife and a "päivä" was a day. They may have been very different words, but I could emotionally "feel" meaning in the sounds. And they were easy to say.

That being said, it's not always a beautiful language. Sometimes my daughter watches a DVD and the Estonian is so parched and flat, I get really annoyed. Especially when the big ogre sings off key. That drives me nuts. I don't want to know what HE'S saying.

t. ütles ...

Giustino, how does verivorst sound to you? ;-)
There's a good tv ad from EMT, about smell-calls over mobile phones. An Estonian guy at some big airport gets a smell-call from home - the smell of verivorst.
"Bloody sausage, verivorst", he explains cheerfully to a foreigner beside him.
"Veri vorst? Oh, right, very worst!"

Giustino ütles ...

I just want to say that I am not saying that Russian is a bad language or anything like that. My comment before was merely for the purposes of posturing as a jerk.

I know many people, and studied with many, that fell in love with Russian and became instant Slavophiles.

Unfortunately, that's not me. For whatever reasons, perhaps some genetic material left violently in Ireland and England and northern France, I am very much interested in the old Nordic world and its languages and folklore.