esmaspäev, veebruar 12, 2007

And now some words from Urmas

The Estonian Foreign Ministry has finally broken its silence after weeks of relentless propaganda war by Russian government-informed news wires. I am not going to post all of Välisminister Paet's comments here but I recommend you read them. Here are some of my favorite parts:

No battles were held during the occupation of Tallinn in September 1944. By that time Estonia’s capital had been independent for four days and under the administration of the Government of the Republic of Estonia that had declared its independence in 1918. The soldiers of the Red Army tore down our state symbol, the Estonian blue-black-white tricolour, and not the Nazi flag, from the tower of Toompea Castle.

***

All peoples living in Estonia suffered - Estonians, Russians, Swedes, Finns and Jews. Here it must be emphasised that during periods where Estonia had de facto sovereignty over its territories, no ethnic persecutions or political repressions ever took place.

***

The goal of lies and defacing accusations, that carry the character of anti-Estonian propaganda, are to form a completely false image of Estonia. Estonia denotes negatively all totalitarian regimes equally! I am sure that all our friends already know this.

34 kommentaari:

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Sounds not like a personal statement it rather clarrifies the upcoming decision by the government? The removal of the monument to another place.

oliver ütles ...

Here it must be emphasised that during periods where Estonia had de facto sovereignty over its territories, no ethnic persecutions or political repressions ever took place.

!? Am I not getting the point?
It's either that or our dear foreign minister is a filthy liar. Päts was one you would call a soft dictator. And political repressions really did take place - fabricated evidence, false accusations, ungounded arrests, some heavy censoring and so on. Everybody knows it. I can’t understand how could lying help us. It could only damage us.

kari ütles ...

Whether Päts or anyone else did anything no doubt that the soviets were a lot worse. the emphasis should be on the fact the the foreign ministry finally took the time to respond. the thing that annoys me the most is the fact that russia is hurling **** at us and the government refuses to react.

Giustino ütles ...

There's a certain gravitas to the restored Estonian republic's politicians, as if Paet is saying, beneath his glasses:

"You executed us, deported us, and chased us to Sweden, but now we're back, and this time we brought our Blackberries and SkypePhones, muthafucka."

plasma-jack ütles ...

the problem of creating an image is that everything has to be painted black and white. try saying "we had our independent democracy which suffered from corruption and social inegality and ended in authoritarian rule which was still very much better than living in Third Reich or SU". the average Western TV viewer has already fallen to sleep.

still, if Estonians know their history, I think it's OK. but that's not the case, unfortunately. Only plain ignorance, dipped in a coctail of far-right nationalist and romantic ideals, can explain that there are a museum and a monument dedicated to Laidoner in Estonia.

stockholm slender ütles ...

I think sometimes we do exaggerate the influence of this strange official Russian garbage that we have around. Sure, it has a momentary effect for those uninformed, but even a cursory review on the matter will reveal the real state of affairs. Yes, they are shrill, loud and visible, but I believe the effect is still minimal. Unfortunately the discussion within Russia is totally polluted by the official lies, but abroad the situation is totally different. Estonia has very effective venues of information through her membership in the core Western clubs of NATO and EU.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

stockholm slender, I am still rather sceptical. The EU is not one yet. And Estonia has experienced reactions like this until very recently. Ilves:
"However, not everything went smoothly. When the Estonian foreign minister went on
an official visit to Germany in February 1997, the security adviser of the
Bundeskanzleramt, the key figure of German foreign policy, insisted that the meeting
should be secret, and that it take place in some restaurant. There, it was made clear,
that the European Union could never accept Estonia as a member, because EU
membership would mean that at some point we could also get into NATO. But that
would not be in Germany’s interests.
Similarly, in the summer of 1997, a senior Finnish Foreign Ministry official managed
to convince the United States not to send F-16 fighters to participate in the Baltic
Challenge PfP summer event, since their presence might aggravate the Russians.
These examples show how slow to disappear was the conception of Estonia as a
second rate country, which lacks those rights that are taken for granted in the "distant
abroad".
Success at the EU negotiations"

Somwhen later I will do a collection of these things.

Giustino ütles ...

I think sometimes we do exaggerate the influence of this strange official Russian garbage that we have around. (Stockholm Slender)

Well, look at what Estonia has done in spite of it. The Russians did pull the Red Army out of Estonia in 1994. Estonia did join the EU and NATO. The thing is that Estonia is an open country. Any person that visits here sees that it is part of the West, part of "us". Americans and Western Europeans aren't as shocked by attacks on civilians in places like Uzbekistan and Sudan as they are on Westerners.

Russia has sought to, and failed, to convince the West that Estonia is somehow different. That Estonians are neo-Nazi fascists that abuse their Russian minority.
Nobody buys that because anybody can come here and see for themselves what it is like. The Russian version of Estonia is a total joke. Stand in downtown Tallinn and see for yourself. You've got 16 years of independence and what nasty things to show for it? A light scuffle outside a war monument? Compare that to the UK and its northern Irish mess. I'll take Estonia anyday over that.

If anyone has no clue what's going on Estonia it's the Russians. They haven't even had one post-1991 Presidential visit. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton and John McCain are knocking back cocktails in Tallinn.

stockholm slender, I am still rather sceptical. The EU is not one yet. And Estonia has experienced reactions like this until very recently.

The Western Europeans are still scared of Russia. They are so scared that "Russia will get mad and then something bad will happen" and "better stay at home at hygge (Danish word that sort of means 'pleasure') myself with pornography and electronic music."

Estonia has had to prove to them that it is just as normal a country as theirs is. And, as you see, many of the same problems affect Estonia that affect the core Western European countries. Estonia has an integration dilemma, so do France and Germany and the Netherlands. Their immigrants come from different places, but they are still immigrants nonetheless.

Also I am starting to see Tallinn finally emerge as a real capital -- not a architectural getaway, or a place for a really fine stag party, or a safe place to have a really good time at the Casino. Like that New York Times article pointed out, it is an innovative, Nordic city - like Reykjavik or Helsinki. The more of that, the better for Estonia.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

O.k. this is foreign policy again. Norge ikke hygger anymore ;-)
'Norske myndigheter har lagt bort frasen om at Russland ikke utgjør noen trussel mot Norge. Nå beskrives landet igjen som en trussel - også militært.'
Russia is a 'trussel' - threat (?)- for Norway again, officialy.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, I should think that most of this Russian unpleasantness and irrationality is actually strictly for domestic consumption. Almost the whole elite has some sort of security organ background and can only legitimize their disgusting misrule with this relentless mongering of outside "threats" (of course high oil prices don't hurt either). It is sad and pitiful especially and foremost for Russians themselves. As long as this geopolitical constellation holds, there won't be any real attempt to destabilize their Western border. Hopefully in time as conditions in Russia get gradually better, also their political rhetoric will get civilized.

Andres ütles ...

Russia's democracy is just as old or even slightly younger than Estonia's. Estonia didn't think much of all that communism bs, Russia mostly did. You really have to consider these facts. Russia is not a mature democracy yet, just like Estonia. Just look at the bullshit that politicians in Estonia talk before elections, now multiply that by a constant greater than one (taking into account the things I mentioned previously) and Russia's outbursts don't seem so irrational anymore. They just don't know better. As much as Putin would like it, Russia is not going to rise from the ashes like a phoenix as the great democratical power of the world, it took the US over a hundred years; doing it the right way, it will take Russia almost as long to get the soft dominance in the world.

kloty ütles ...

>No battles were held during the >occupation of Tallinn in September >1944. By that time Estonia’s capital >had been independent for four days and >under the administration of the >Government of the Republic of Estonia >that had declared its independence in >1918. The soldiers of the Red Army tore >down our state symbol, the Estonian >blue-black-white tricolour, and not the >Nazi flag, from the tower of Toompea >Castle.

What a stupid comment. The fight for Estonia started in February 1944, and was not over with the liberation of Tallinn, but continued till the end of November. So does he really think, that Estonia could get independent without the Red Army and could liberate Saaremaa alone? So after the proclamation of the independent republic the Red Army should immidiately leave Estonia? And how did the soldiers died, who are buried under the memorial, if Tallinn was safe and secure, 4 days after the Germans have left it?

>All peoples living in Estonia suffered >- Estonians, Russians, Swedes, Finns >and Jews.

This is true. This is what the memorial expreses for me, not occupation just mourning over the loss of innocent lifes. And it expresses the hope that such things never ever happen again.

>Here it must be emphasised
>that during periods where Estonia had >de facto sovereignty over its >territories, no ethnic persecutions or >political repressions ever took place.

No, of course not. And the most current law about the empowering the language commission is just a bad dream. It actually is a bad dream which turns to be out reality.

>The goal of lies and defacing >accusations, that carry the character >of anti-Estonian propaganda, are to >form a completely false image of >Estonia. Estonia denotes negatively all >totalitarian regimes equally! I am sure >that all our friends already know this.

Not so long ago I actually really counted myself as friend of Estonia. I was really sure that there are no ethnic conflicts between the Estonians and the Russians. I really thought to move back to Estonia one day, but when I see what is happening now, I'm just horrified. And no, the Russians did not start this discussion. After 16 years of more or less peacefull coexistence the Estonian nationalists decided to collect some votes but now I even read civil war fantasies on some blogs. This is just not real.

Giustino ütles ...

What a stupid comment. The fight for Estonia started in February 1944, and was not over with the liberation of Tallinn, but continued till the end of November. So does he really think, that Estonia could get independent without the Red Army and could liberate Saaremaa alone?

The Soviets shouldn't have meddled in Estonia's political affairs and the Russian Federation should apologize for doing so. They should have recognized the Tief government when it was proclaimed. Instead, they stole more land and killed innocent people.

Then they took the opportunity to "finish what they started" by executing political prisoners in 1941 by begining a new wave of
domestic terrorism that continued until the amnesty of the late 50s for metsavennad. This is what is called "liberation" - living in the forests on bugs and berries, getting deported to concentration camps in Siberia, getting shot because you fought in the Estonian War of Independence in 1918.

And it's all swept under the rug by this blanklet term "occupation" as
if that just meant having Russian bases on your territory, like the US kept in places like Keflavik.

The NKVD is an unpunishable criminal organization. Where are the Wiesenthals tracking those bastards down, bring them back to east Europe, putting them on show trials?

So after the proclamation of the independent republic the Red Army should immidiately leave Estonia? And how did the soldiers died, who are buried under the memorial, if Tallinn was safe and secure, 4 days after the Germans have left it?

Who knows for certain that there are bodies buried beneath it. We take lore as fact. Maybe they are there, maybe they aren't. Who can believe facts from a nation that airbrushed politicians out of photos after they were assassinated?

This is true. This is what the memorial expreses for me, not occupation just mourning over the loss of innocent lifes. And it expresses the hope that such things never ever happen again.

The memorial is a small piece of a big town. We drove by it the other night. It's totally inconsequential. I used to walk by it on a weekly basis,and I never noticed it or what it stood for. Therefore, I think this whole thing is totally blown out of proportion. It's just a monument. They have them in cities all over the world.

No, of course not. And the most current law about the empowering the language commission is just a bad dream. It actually is a bad dream which turns to be out reality.

Well, vote for a party that opposes the law.

Not so long ago I actually really counted myself as friend of Estonia. I was really sure that there are no ethnic conflicts between the Estonians and the Russians. I really thought to move back to Estonia one day, but when I see what is happening now, I'm just horrified. And no, the Russians did not start this discussion.

They could be a bit more discreet about displaying the Soviet flag. I think it was the whole uniform, flag, and vodka routine that finally pissed of the rightwingers.

After 16 years of more or less peacefull coexistence the Estonian nationalists decided to collect some votes but now I even read civil war fantasies on some blogs. This is just not real.

The Internet is just a stupid instrument. I am here in Estonia and everything is fine. The Russian propaganda machine is in overdrive because they looovvve to hate Estonia because they have no democracy and thus cannot spend their time hating their own politicians. They must find opponents abroad.

I really don't care if they move it to a cemetery or not. It is, afterall, a monument, and millions of people have died in wars prior and since that one.

If I am feeling bad for anyone these days it is the citizens of Iraq. Now they have to put up with some real terror in ther lives.

Whining over a monument seems childish compared to the reality of Baghdad.

kloty ütles ...

>It is, afterall, a monument, and >millions of people have died in >wars prior and since that one.

Well, Statue of Liberty in New York is also just a monument, but can you imagine what will happen, if there will be a terroristic attack on it? Just because that monument doesn't mean anything to you, it doesn't mean that it is meaningless to anyone else.

sofie ütles ...

Well, I can answer Cloty's question (how did the soldiers die, who are buried under the memorial).
It seems, that my grandmother's sister was an eyewitness of this event, as her friend lived on Tõnismägi just next to the place where the monument stands today. These days 1944 it was just an empty space with some bushes growing on it. Four Russian soldiers were robbing in the houses around there. They took gold, jewelry, watches, everything they could get their hands on. Then they sat down near the buhes on Tõnismägi to share the marauded things between themselves. Then came two other men in uniforms, just the uniforms were different. Maybe these were officers, my aunt guessed. These two men in different uniforms shot the four marauders. The story goes on: people who were robbed and were watching on their windows, thought for a second, that now they can go out and take their belongings back. But no, the two Russian officers took the gold from the four dead marauders and left, leaving the dead bodies lying in the bushes.
These four marauders were four of the six bodies that were buried on Tõnismäe. I am not sure about the other two, but I have read in a newspaper, that two marauders were shot by fighters of Eesti Pataljon (estonians in Soviet Army) father away, Mere pst or somewhere there, and were buried on Tõnismäe, too.
My grandmother' sister still told only about these four whose death she seems to have witnessed herself. And she told the story many times, always, when she went past Tõnismägi with somebody who could be trusted enough to hear such dangerous facts. Everybody was aware that after the war you could be put to prison for 25 years for telling a story like that. That could explain, why so few know about it.
So, the monument stands on the graves of shot marauders. Honour them!

plasma-jack ütles ...

After hearing nice German gentleman's opinion, Jack Plasma suddenly realized that he had woken up during the apartheid. The cheap coffee he was drinking in office suddenly tasted like blood. How could we ever demand compatriots of Dostoyevski to pronounce something like "allmaaraudtee" or "vallavalitsus", he grimly thought, now deeply ashamed and hating his nation he had once so admired.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Sofie, these nice soldiers were not maraudeuring. They were liberating the local bourgoisie of their litter. Metaphorically said - along with their jewels, these townsfolk also got rid of the Nazi past. And that's a nice thing, now isn't it.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Sofie,
At the moment I do not add a further comment, but it's time to place here the link to a historical approach.
Oral heritage Page 13:
They compare the written documents with oral statements(Copy and paste the link).
http://72.14.221.104/search?q=cache:ZMcaBPcvXqsJ:www.valitsus.ee/brf/failid/statement_red_army_memorial.pdf+Ageeda+Paavel&hl=de&ct=clnk&cd=26&gl=de&client=firefox-a

stockholm slender ütles ...

Dear me, are we seriosly supposed to argue whether the Stalinist rape of Estonia was "liberation"? I think I'll give a pass. Had we gone through the same experience Finland would now have ca 3 million descendants of pre-1939 population and 2-2,5 new "settlers". (Likely even worse as the route to Sweden was much easier...) When will the Russian historical discourse treat history as pursuit of truth instead of some sort a twisted power game?

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Maybe the link does not work. Here is the title of the historical statement with the oral heritage:
Common grave for and a memorial to Red Army
soldiers on Tõnismägi, Tallinn by
Peeter Kaasik

Giustino ütles ...

Well, Statue of Liberty in New York is also just a monument, but can you imagine what will happen, if there will be a terroristic attack on it? Just because that monument doesn't mean anything to you, it doesn't mean that it is meaningless to anyone else.

My opinion changes on a daily basis. But having actually seen the monument, I didn't find it conspicuous.

I think the prime minister is correct to say that the center of town isn't the place for a war grave.

I think that at the very least public gatherings should be prohibited there.

Actually, the problems caused by the monument only lasted about two months. There were threats of blowing it up, some vandalism, somecandelight vigils, and then ... nothing.

It seems like prohibiting public demonstrations at the place fixed things. Now here we are, going on one year later, still talking about it.

As for the Statue of Liberty, I don't see any reason to move her to a cemetery. But I am not really into monuments anyway. They don't do it for me.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Many posts on our [estland] blog are about the First World War. Generally this theme is not important in politics anymore. I mean there is no big topic on the international agenda about it anymore. Russia with all the nationalities included had more than 2 million casualties in the army and far more injured soldiers. But different from the Western Front where they mostly have their exclusive national cemetaries only from the Kivis to the French there is 200m from my place a graveyard where Germans, Finns, Serbs! and Russians are buried in one place. Nobody knows, nobody cares anymore. They all got the same crosses and they are facing each other. But as long as the WWII issues are used for politics there will be more posts to follow.

Giustino ütles ...

Nobody knows, nobody cares anymore. They all got the same crosses and they are facing each other. But as long as the WWII issues are used for politics there will be more posts to follow.

It's the same in the US. World War I is a forgotten conflict. Even in the 1930s, during the Bonus Army demonstrations in Washington during the Depression, WWI vets were treated as expendible.

There are few movies about them, few books about them, few monuments TO them. If this was about relocating a WWI memorial, nobody would care.

dresolve ütles ...

Nobody knows, nobody cares anymore. They all got the same crosses and they are facing each other. But as long as the WWII issues are used for politics there will be more posts to follow. -jens-olaf

It's the same in the US. World War I is a forgotten conflict. -giustino

I think that the difference between current perception of WWI and WWII was that there was a perceived moral component in WWII in defeating the Nazis that doesn't exist for the earlier conflict. There is also a more personal connection for those currently alive to WWII. My grandparents were personally affected by the conflict, and I would expect that holds true for most Russians and Estonians. And for Russians WWII was perceived a victory while WWI not so much. Who the heck wants to celebrate a loss? (or draw/withdrawal as WWI may be considered from Russian perspective.)

dresolve ütles ...

I think that at the very least public gatherings should be prohibited there. -giustino

Thoroughly un-American!

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

dresoleve, no moral component in WWI?
Giustino let me quote from lettonica.blogspot.com,' The christmas battles' by Peteris Cerdrins:
The Latvian Riflemen fought so very hard in World War One because they were finally able to fight under their own flag (circumscribed -- their main slogan became "a free Latvia in a free Russia"), because of their hatred for Germany (born of centuries of oppression by Germans), and because they were often fighting on their own land, much of which was brutally occupied by German forces for a prolonged period. Ninety years ago this Christmas, at -35 degrees centigrade, they lost a third of their comrades in arms. Fighting valiantly for the liberation of Jelgava and Semigallia, they awaited reinforcements that never came. They did this in the service of a Czar who extolled their bravery -- and who led an autocratic regime that sent them on suicide missions, renamed their farmsteads in Russian, and attempted to ban the use of Latvian in their correspondence with their families.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

This was written by Peteris Cedrins, sorry about incorrectly spelling. But understanding WWII comes from the understanding of WWI.

Giustino ütles ...

Thoroughly un-American!

You've usually got to get a permit to hold any kind of assembly or demonstration in a public park or memorial. Authorities use this fact to stick it to demonstrators all the time, and it's totally legal.

Giustino ütles ...

I think that the difference between current perception of WWI and WWII was that there was a perceived moral component in WWII in defeating the Nazis that doesn't exist for the earlier conflict.

That's been post-war revisionism by both the Americans AND the Russians. America sat out the war until Dec. 1941, two years after Stalin and Hitler carved up Eastern Europe, a full year and a half after the Baltics were occupied and Britain was bombed.

Even then we entered because we were attacked by the Japanese. The Russians fought the Germans because the Germans reneged on the Molotiv Ribbentrop pact and attacked them.

Neither country got in the war because Anne Frank sent them a postcard begging them to save her in her attic in Amsterdam.

notsu ütles ...

Can somebody explain to me, what law concerning language commmission is kloty referring to?

plasma-jack ütles ...

Recently I read from a US newspaper that non-citizens are not eligible to work or study in Estonia..... (the source had Russian name but I don't know if he was from Estonia or Russia)

Maybe I should make it clear to foreigners: not true.

Anonüümne ütles ...

http://www.valitsus.ee/brf/doc.php?34981
Jens-Olaf's link again
.pdf in estonian

Anonüümne ütles ...

Interesting is it city legend or true what Sofie wrote? Anyway my grandmother has told as well that actually there where couple of robbers buried to Tõnismägi.