I was asked recently on Radio Free Finland what Estonia's feelings toward the European Union were, and I basically said that Estonia's accession was very much in the interest of its largest economic and political partners, Finland and Sweden, which also have a considerable presence in Estonian media ownership.
Over the past few weeks though, two events have presented themselves of how Estonia will function within the EU, and I think they both point towards members of a Nordic voting block coordinated by Sweden - which seems to be the only northern European country, other than Estonia, that is constantly throwing out ideas in the European Union and hoping some of them stick.
For example, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and his Estonian counterpart Urmas Paet published an editorial in Die Welt aguing for closer ties between the EU and Turkey at a time when Germany and France appear hesitant to further engagement with Ankara:
The strategic decisions on enlargement to be taken by European leaders in the coming days are about the kind of Europe we want to create. Is it a static Union turned inwards focusing on its own integration capacity? Or is a Europe looking outwards to the rest of the world ready to take on global challenges and global competition? Does the EU see the merits in building a wider community of stable, prosperous democracies or will we keep our neighbours at arms length?
And apparently Bildt and Paet are continuing their united front on the Turkey issue:
At Monday's meeting of EU foreign ministers, Sweden and Estonia reportedly signalled to fellow EU members that they were prepared to open up representative bureaus in Northern Cyprus, and begin offering direct flights to the northern part of the island.
At the 8 hour meeting of EU foreign ministers, South Cyprus met with a tough front after requesting that a higher number of Turkey's EU accession topics be shelved, and that Turkey be forced to open its air and sea ports unconditionally. Both Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt asserted that Turkey's new efforts on Cyprus should be taken into account, reminding fellow EU foreign ministers of the promises made to Turkey in 2004 that isolationary measures against Northern Cyprus would be lifted.
While Estonia is a small player on the international stage, its addition to the EU debate backs up Sweden's policies and gives its argument extra gravitas with talk of "the success of EU enlargement" in Estonia and Estonia's ability to reform based on the "opportunity of EU enlargement."
You can clearly see now why politically, as well as economically, the addition of Estonia to the EU has paid off for the Swedes.