kolmapäev, september 19, 2007

Between Filet Americain and a Borsch Heart Attack

Rene van der Linden, the president of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly has told Estonia that it needs to speed up the rate of adoption of Estonian citizenship by the ~115,000 Estonian residents that remain stateless as of this year.

As much as I dislike van der Linden's glasses, tie, haircut, name, and ... well, just about everything about him, and wouldn't cry too much if he slipped on some Filet Americain and fell down a wormhole in time from which his Muscovite friends could never pull him out, he has a point.

His point is that given current rates of citizenship adoption, it could take 20 years until the last babushka in Sillamäe gets her navy blue passport embossed with the three blue lions of the seal of the Republic of Estonia. One must also wonder if Estonia's current citizenship laws leave people feeling more alienated from the republic rather than more "with it."

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet says Estonia shouldn't force its citizenship on anyone. He's right in that regard too. Imagine if Estonia had given citizenship to everyone that was in Estonia in 1991. That would mean that some guy who a) came to Estonia in 1989 and b) left Estonia for Australia [illegally] in 1992 would be the property of the Estonian embassy in Sydney. That, dear friends, would be really dumb.

Next year Mihkail Margelov (right) will probably take over as president of PACE. Nagu van der Linden, Margelov on tropp. Whereas I would not cry if van der Linden disappeared into a wormhole, with Margelov I would not shed a tear should the gel in his hair catch on fire, causing the rest of his body to spontaneously combust. While the smell would no doubt be nauseating, it would oddly smell better that the nonsense that is certain to erupt from his mouth as head of PACE.

But that is Estonia isn't it? Stuck between Filet Americain and a Borsch heart attack. I could see one way Estonia could speed up citizenship -- it could make the constitution part of the citizenship test available in all languages cited in its Law on Cultural Autonomy for National Minorities -- Swedish, Russian, and German. One could add Finnish too, as Ingrian Finns have set up a cultural autonomy in Estonia.

Oh, what a huge concession, I know. Tests on constitutions are difficult as it is. But this would send a message to PACE. That message. There are other minorities in Estonia. Other minorities, like Estonian Swedes, who are far smaller and at a far greater risk of losing their culture and language, unlike the Russian Estonians who are not at a similar risk. So why should one minority be protected more than any other? Also, isn't school reform taking care of the lack of Estonian fluency in Estonia? So why should Estonia bother with the 'carrot-stick' approach when it comes to citizenship?

I really don't think this concession will result in an avalanche of citizenship acquisition. Some don't even want citizenship because, for example, they want to be exempt from army service. But if it does help more people get citizenship fine. The more people that are tuned into the process, the less perhaps they'll listen to people like Mihkail Margelov and Rene van der Linden.

And believe me, I will be so very glad when they shut up.

38 kommentaari:

Blogaddict ütles ...

Giustino, are you going to apply for Estonian Citizenship? Suppose if you did, what would that entail? (A certain someone has somewhat similar circumstances)

Do you know any Americans who have successfully done so? I understand, this may be a topic for a wider discussion so be it. Please comment as much as you think is reasonable and safe. Or never mind. I'll figure it out on my own. :-) Just asking.

Blogaddict ütles ...

... may NOT be a topic ...

Giustino ütles ...

I have no plans to become an Estonian citizen. That would entail residency of five years (I believe) and giving up my American citizenship, which I definitely don't feel like doing.

I think the current citizenship laws are too stringent. My daughters, for example, must choose American or Estonian at age 18. That just sucks.

I know Estonia wants to create a sense of loyalty to the state, but being rigid dicks about it doesn't help. I like Estonia because it's a cool place with excellent bog paths (rada raba!).

I learned Estonian because it's an interesting and challenging language and I hate the stereotype of us Americans being so stupid and demanding all foreigners speak English. It also helps to communicate with my in-laws (no duh!).

If I could I would learn plenty of other languages before I die. It makes a person intellectually wealthy. I would love to know, for example, what exactly Mr. sarkozy is saying :)

Jaan ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Jaan ütles ...

Again and again, you Giustino are proclaimed Estonia's propagandist manqué. Which I doubt to be possible because you are too blue eyed, impulsive, and long winded in your prose and rhetoric.

Since this is not journalism you practise here I advise you to tone up your propaganda skills. Wishing combustion and vanishing upon politicians and diplomats with whom you disagree makes you sound irrational. Because it was not funny (and if it was it was failed humour) you sound like a strongly biased person who only wants to hear opinions with which you agree.

The Council of Europe and other international organisations have sometimes gone too far and sounded pro-Moscow. But let us face it that without these international influences we in Estonia would not have had liberal influences on citizenship, education or languages law.

If you are the liberal New York American you sometimes describe yourself to be then you must appreciate the importance of politics - conflicting opinions battling each other in peaceful debate, not actual war or state conflict. To essentially wish they would just "shut up" shows you to have little respect for any opinion except those you listen to in your circle.

I am a patriotic Estonian who has memories of the Soviet years. Yet unlike you Giustino I also speak Russian and know how some of the Russian speakers in Eesti feel and think. (It was only recently on another forum that you learned that "babushka" actually means grandmother, and that it is not a head scarf!) Not all of them are Nashy fascists or Red Army nostalgists. Some Russian speakers have legitimate rights and opinions to be heard. That is why some international observers say the things that they do - because they want to see political democracy, not ethnic democracy, in EU societies. This raising of Minorities Law and Swedish minorities, however legitimate, is often used as a mechanism or red hering to cloud criticism and debate.

Wishing that Margeloff's hair catch abalze and that he fry up like a meatball was not funny - it sounded coarse or like a failed joke. While this ad hominem rhetoric may win friends and cheers with the "võitluskaaslased" whom you are writing for it delegitimises your opinion in the eyes of the unfamiliar reader.

Those in the Välisministeerium would probably prefer smoother propaganda and rhetoric than this.

Since you have confessed yourself to drinking wine whilst writing your blogs, perhaps that is where your irrational ad hominem argumentation arises from. I am certain that you will have a counter statement or explainer to justify your statements. Please only remember that I am on your side and I only want to see less of this biased irrationality, because it makes discussion dumbed down.

Kristopher ütles ...

I'd say you're setting up a straw man, Jaan. I know very little about Giustino and took him for an Estonian-American with a funny handle before I did some digging. But I don't think he's angling for any official status or needs to do the Foreign Ministry's bidding.

(Actually, wouldn't be a bad idea. There have been several brilliant non-Estonian guys who are good to be true. Mel Huang for example. Suppose they're not real, but creations of Islandi väljak -- "ordinary Americans" who explain Estonia better than most Estonians.)

An occasional rant is great in any blog, IMHO. I'd like even Eddie (not that anyone calls him that) to loosen up once in a while.

Anyway, perhaps Jaan's blog, Kiviland, could be a good place for a demonstration of the example. Got to start somewhere.

Mait ütles ...

Nope, not 20 years. You're missing a tiny detail - a substantial portion of those who lack citizenship won't make it through next 20 years.

It's typical Estonian long game - the problem with ones most unlikely to go for citizenship (lived here 50 years, don't speak a word of Estonian, yadda, yadda) will solve itself over time.

Cruel, but true. Best we can do is work against their memes being passed on to the next generations.

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...

Bravo, Jaan, you made a seriously funny statement.

Some Russian speakers have legitimate rights and opinions to be heard.

How do you discriminate betwen those, who possess that right and those who do not?

At least I know now, that my oppinion is not legitimate, because I have to confess, that I drank yesterday two beers and called Van der Linden an "eurofart" in front of my wife. I even imagined him to have a spell of meteorism, which was extremely irrational thing to do and witnesses my bad taste and and a wicked sense of humor. I realize that if there were more people like me and Giustino, then Välisministeerium would be in a big sh..

P.S. "Babushka" is an headscarf, "бабушка" is grandmother.

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...

And one more thing, Jaan

The question wether Estonia and Latvia are ethnic democracies is sometimes discussed in international forums, because of existence of non-citizens, which is a new species in the European legislature. Looking closer at the relevant laws, however, makes an end to the discussion. Even though this term seems to be much more adeqate than "apartheid" or "ethnocracy" used by the people who do know the true meaning of word babushka, I have not so far met a single Estonian, who would use it.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Some don't even want citizenship because, for example, they want to be exempt from army service.

Some medium-ranking guy (a Russian guy) from Narva municipality told me (in Estonian) that lots of retired people don't want Estonian citizenship for another reason. If they remain Russian citizens, they can get pension both from both Russian and Estonian state - which is definitely more convenient than getting cash only from eSStonia. Now when I think about it, it would seem that retired non-citizens and Estonian citizens are discriminated in that respect, n'est-ce pas?

Wishing that Margeloff's hair catch abalze and that he fry up like a meatball was not funny - it sounded coarse or like a failed joke.

There is no absolute truth. See, I found it very funny and probably would have even if I didn't knew who the meatball in question was.

Giustino ütles ...

Again and again, you Giustino are proclaimed Estonia's propagandist manqué. Which I doubt to be possible because you are too blue eyed, impulsive, and long winded in your prose and rhetoric.

Proclaimed by who?

Also, 'sinisilmne' doesn't exactly translate into English. The word would be naive. And I have green eyes, thank you.

Since this is not journalism you practise here I advise you to tone up your propaganda skills. Wishing combustion and vanishing upon politicians and diplomats with whom you disagree makes you sound irrational.

This is where you proclaim your Estonianness and I assert my non-Estonianness.

I am a journalist and I have written real stories about wind parks and neighborhood associations.

But this is not a news piece. And by the way, is Van der Linden a politician, or is he just a eurocrat -- a displaced nederlander with no electoral mandate?

It would be nice to imagine a world where we all bow to one another and respect the other's opinion and don't notice how the other one speaks, acts, dresses.

But that is a lot of people's problem with Bush, isn't it? They can't stand the way he talks. It's a problem with Putin too. He comes off as a napoleonic little bully.

Not much to do with policy, but personality.

Because it was not funny (and if it was it was failed humour) you sound like a strongly biased person who only wants to hear opinions with which you agree.

You are wrong here. I heard Van der Linden perfectly clear and said that he has a point, in spite of being a 'eurofart'.

The Council of Europe and other international organisations have sometimes gone too far and sounded pro-Moscow. But let us face it that without these international influences we in Estonia would not have had liberal influences on citizenship, education or languages law.

That's fine.

If you are the liberal New York American you sometimes describe yourself to be then you must appreciate the importance of politics - conflicting opinions battling each other in peaceful debate, not actual war or state conflict. To essentially wish they would just "shut up" shows you to have little respect for any opinion except those you listen to in your circle.

How wrong you are. If I wanted to shut them up, I wouldn't write about them in my blog.

(It was only recently on another forum that you learned that "babushka" actually means grandmother, and that it is not a head scarf!)

I was familiar that it was a term for an older woman. My real confusion was whether it was a common word in the Latvian vocabulary.

Not all of them are Nashy fascists or Red Army nostalgists. Some Russian speakers have legitimate rights and opinions to be heard.

Everyone has a right to express themselves and perhaps be heard as well. Even me. I don't think of most Russian Estonians as such. Rather they are my partners in crime, my fellow speakers of Estonian as a foreign language.
They usually smile to me when I speak to them in Estonian. I think it makes them feel good that they are not alone in that way.

The Kremlin, though, that's another story.

That is why some international observers say the things that they do - because they want to see political democracy, not ethnic democracy, in EU societies.

That's fine. You might notice that the second largest party in the Riigikogu is almost solely backed by Russian Estonians. So I find the ethnocracy argument misleading.

This raising of Minorities Law and Swedish minorities, however legitimate, is often used as a mechanism or red hering to cloud criticism and debate.

Only if you view Russians as more important than Swedes. And that is why it is important to bring it up.

There are two very scary ideas out there.

1) Stalin as God. Stalin did something, so we mustn't try to undo it. Stalin built a big ugly building. So we mustn't tear it down. Stalin, took land from Estonia, so we mustn't take it back. Stalin established certain rules and history. So we mustn't question them.

2) Russians as an exceptional nationality. Belarusians and Poles and Latvians can stand in line for citizenship. But Russians should have it for free. Others can struggle to learn Estonian, but Russians should be served at the supermarket in Viljandi in Russian. Russians are large and special, they deserve a special status. Swedes are small and not special. Who cares about them.

Those are our two scary ideas. You'll find both in Amnesty International's report.

Wishing that Margeloff's hair catch abalze and that he fry up like a meatball was not funny - it sounded coarse or like a failed joke.

I am not so sure it was a joke. It was a roundabout way to say I am biased against the gentleman. An anecdotal way of saying that I don't care for his style.

And style does factor into politics. Some people don't like Savisaar's style. Some people cringed everytime Rüütel said, 'ma ütleksin' and others think Laar is unattractive and a weirdo.

While this ad hominem rhetoric may win friends and cheers with the "võitluskaaslased" whom you are writing for it delegitimises your opinion in the eyes of the unfamiliar reader.

And what is my opinion? My opinion, lost in the thicket, is that the psychology behind the citizenship tests is flawed because non-Estonian speakers will learn the language in school and therefore don't need to be goaded into learning it with the promise of a nice passport.

I offered a way to make it easier for people to get citizenship -- making the constitution exams available in all languages cited in the autonomies act.

I haven't written about it here greatly, but I think that the 'big idea' beyond the reactive Isamaa policies is the Social Democrat's to take and run with. They are too scared to do it right now, but I hope they go with it at some point.

Those in the Välisministeerium would probably prefer smoother propaganda and rhetoric than this.

I don't work for the foreign ministry. I express my own opinions in my own way. I am not an apparatchik or an accessory to any of them.

My political orientation is mostly liberal-left in its origins. You;d blush to know that I used to party with the International Socialist Organization in college.

Keep that in mind while I am out slugging with jerks on some websites. I *should* agree with them ... if they were correct.

Yet they are not.

Since you have confessed yourself to drinking wine whilst writing your blogs, perhaps that is where your irrational ad hominem argumentation arises from. I am certain that you will have a counter statement or explainer to justify your statements.

Well, I *was* pretty tired. I think it was that photo of van der Linden that set me off :)

Please only remember that I am on your side and I only want to see less of this biased irrationality, because it makes discussion dumbed down.

"Biased irrationality" -- ah, how Estonian. Someone asked me, "How are the people there, do they like you?"

My answer was, "I am not sure if Estonians really like anything." I am pretty sure they really like beer. But beyond that, they could all be closet Tom Jones fans for all I know.

Anyway, I appreciate your comments and see your point. But, quite honestly, I don't think I am *up* to having one of these long-ended, mostly dull, rational and polite debates.

The desire to imagine Van der Linden slipping on a pile of steak tartare and plummeting down a wrinkle in time is too sweet to pass up ... and share.

It's also my way of saying to my 'kaasmaalased' that I understand how they might instinctively dislike these guys, but we should listen to them anyway.

Suhkrutükk ütles ...

Hehe, they no longer give navy blue passports but for some time already European Union passports are given (red ones).

Giustino ütles ...

By the way, I have to say that reading the Postimees commentary is intimidating. One must tread very carefully or else they might unleash a maelstrom of "KURAT!"

It's funny because a lot of opinions out there are made with strong support of Estonia (like mine about changing the constitution tests). But if you get on the wrong side of IRL supporters, it's kurat, kurat, and more kurat.

It's like you are stuck between them, the kurat politsei, and the Stalinist apologists. There's just a crawlspace for middle room. It always must be one or the other :(

plasma-jack ütles ...

wrong side of IRL supporters

IRL are but turncoats, traitors of the true nationalist ideals. They sold off Petseri, didn't they? Bloody commies, only a bit better than the rest of that bunch of thieves, liars, imperial puppets and Russian agents. A real Estonian patriot does not believe in anything except his own merit and love for Estonia (the latter part means hating the scum infesting the fatherland, including Russians, fags, businessmen, younglings, politicians, Christians, lefties, pedestrians, culture workers, Jews, junkies, TV stars, old people and many other kinds of arrogant bastards who live simply to make existence a living hell for an honest man).

Mait ütles ...

In fact, 'sinisilmne' translates rather easily. It's 'rose-tinted glasses';)

Leo ütles ...

That was really fun to read. Although I think that assembly will dissolve should van der Margelov really become its president. Maybe that's his purpose -- CoE's European Court of Human Rights is becoming too much of a trouble for Russia.

Jaan ütles ...

Responses to my comment in a way emphasised my point.

During discussions of Estonian politics in regional context I see a tendency for all "pro-Eesti" individuals online to get very defensive and make up 1), 2), 3), 4) arguments or counter-arguments. Some times when I read these discussions it seems as if there is no middle ground. The responses often treat the other side as stone headed or crazy for not respecting Estonian arguments. If someone disagrees the response seems to be a point by point effort to publicly (online) reduce the opposing argument to submissive position. This is zero sum argumentation. (My Estonian-American friend describes this in English as the Estonian reflex of "circling the wagons".)

I believe that a few words in my first comment were not read - I am on your side. (Perhaps this is the issue I was trying to emphasise - it seems everyone in these discussions rush to agree with each other so that there is seldom any real discussion as to why someone on the ouside, such as PACE, would take a contrary position.)

Name calling or making opponents look ridiculous ("Euro farts" or "pro-Russia") is easy because it means WE never need to re evaluate or re affirm our positions.

When the discussion moderator begins a discussion with name calling than there is no where for the discussion to go but to ad hominem or farther downward.

(If you Giustino were entertaining seriously the opinions of the "opposing" side than why would you end your blog with this - "And believe me, I will be so very glad when they shut up" ? This is not the language of open minded discussion.)

This was the point I attempted to make in my first comment.

One more time I will remind you that I am most frequently on your side of the debate. I have read this blog because I enjoy it's content. Yet when I dared to make a well intentioned criticism I was responded to in a slightly condescending fashion. (If I wanted to start a blog I would do so and maybe I will at some day - I signed up "Kiviland" only to be able to comment as a registered blogger. Why should I duplicate efforts when we already have an established forum to discuss matters in here?)

In the same way as most discussants on this blog I have spent sometime abroad outside of Estonia - in the U.K. and U.S.A. and Germany.

In a more personal note - I was not aware that you practised journalism, Giustino, so I apologise. I have web searched your name and I do read fairly wide, but I have not seen your by line on anything except blogs and some PR sort of writing (which is perfectly fine).

As far as goes your reputation as a propagandist I believe I've we need to look no farther than your own blog, most recently the suggestion by Kristopher.

In spite of the fact that regional politics have become lately, how shall we say, ugly - we are beyond the Cold War years of dissident protest and välismaalased begging for the attention of Western governments. Estonia is a full member of EU and Nato and respected in U.S.A. for it's sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan. Further more, Russia has lately discredited itself in the eyes of almost everyone with exception of blue eyed fellows who secretly miss the NSV-U.S.S.R..

There is no need to respond in defensive propaganda fashion each time a "naive" Western diplomat criticises Estonia or each time Russia's extremists make an attack.

It might be useful every time and again to recite Tartu Rahu to Moscow (and similar historical justice arguments), select diplomats, and journalists - we all must know that Russia will never recognise this unless Yavlinskii's or Kasparoff's people take power, and even then maybe not.

When some one from the PACE makes a criticism than, it would be a good time to engage this discussion seriously. We must understand and remember that many, many Western observers do not respect or understand Estonia's citizenship position. They do not understand how the effects of occupation are long term and how they effect politics today. Many of them see the non citizen's position as a human rights cause that ought be championed.

I am fairly certain that at least a few of these Western individuals read this blog at least in passing. If they see their arguments discredited from the beginning, they will not bother discussing or listening - they will see this as a forum for right wing nationalists who have made up their minds. (And "shut up" if you don't agree with our position.)

The art of politics and debates is in persuasion. Maybe even the façade of open minds can give legitimacy to our arguments which is something Moscow and its propagandists have lacked.

I realise that most readers of this blog have their hearts invested in Eestimaa (even the creator and moderator who is itching and obsessed with Eestimaa). Yet please do keep in mind that for many individuals on the outside (many of those individuals who's opinions matter!) this is not an emotional or historical justice issue - but one about human rights and political pragmatism. If we condescend them and wish them to "shut up", than they might wish that we shut up - and they will dismiss our opinuions as those of emotional Estonian nationalists who do not understand the way international politics really works.

Yet maybe this comment was a waste of my time since I will be dismissed and made to look ridiculous for not laughing and agreeing with everyone else.

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...

Jaan,
I think that you are simply in the wrong place. If Giustino would have started blogging with so serious objectives and weighted argumentation,his blog would never have become popular. It is absolutely necessary to be serious and adequate in a standart diplomacy, but this approach would most probably kill the public diplomacy. And this blog is an excellent example of public diplomacy. I said once that it is like a pub, where you can share your oppinions, feelings and even rough jokes. Maybe it's true that it is visited by influential people. Why should they visit the pub, where both the owner and clients are biased, irrational, natonalistic and on top of this they make silly jokes? Probably because the 100% political correctness is a heavy burden to bear and even the top politicians can make privately most nasty things about teir adversaries. Probably beacause it is interesting to see how people see the things and how they feel about it.
And another thing - there is an information war going on. This is quite a filthy affair and straight and honest (sinisilmsed) guys should not take part of it. You want to have an academic discussion and yet you label Estonia as an "ethnic democracy". You are already hit by the paintball.
I still suggest to test your approach in blog "Kiviland" - just see how it works. "We" do not have an established forum here. We are just clients of this pub.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Estonia did a lot of compromise. Tunne Kelam and the Eesti Kongress that was the way to restore Estonian nationhood. But instead Europe waited for the election results of the Estonian soviet parliament. They even had to do a referendum where all (!) former soviet citizens had their chance to vote about Estonian independence. It was observed by European organisation which were waiting for the 2/3 majority. The OSCE obeserved the minority situation in the 90s.

East Germany with far less than 5 % Non-Germans are not always a real save place for immigrants. Only to compare Estonia to a normal western society.

etc.
I am not sure if Euopean politicians really know what happened in Estonia after 1988.

Giustino ütles ...

(If you Giustino were entertaining seriously the opinions of the "opposing" side than why would you end your blog with this - "And believe me, I will be so very glad when they shut up" ? This is not the language of open minded discussion.)

Jaan,

I am grateful for your comments.

Occasionally I may relish indirectness too much, because -- as a journalist -- you'll find that no matter how directly you articulate something, there's always someone who will read it the wrong way.

I don't want Van der Linden to shut up because I don't like what he says. I want he and PACE to shut up *one day* because, quite frankly, I am tired of this issue and hope that this certain *one day* in the future, people like him and Margelov will look at Estonia and shrug and not really have much to say about it.

That day may be the day when there are no stateless people in Estonia. I doubt it will be the day Estonia changes the core of its language policy -- if Ireland can mandate Irish, then I can't imagine how organizations like PACE can criticize the monolingual state language policy.

But beyond that, what is the way out of this situation? Is it the same policies that are *slowly* working? That appears to be the government's position.

Is there anything else that can be done? Honestly? More money? Less restrictions in the workplace?

Is this really a situation the government can solve? Are we expecting too much from the state? To be miracle workers?

I have read so many angry Internet comments and arguments and seen the nasty footage of the 2,000 young people in Tallinn trashing stores in April.

But somehow I do not think things are so bad. Maybe it is because I am from the US where I have seen far worse things transpire.

In reality, most people I meet in Estonia aren't walking around with a fist in their pocket. I don't know what to tell people who are so upset and rave about "occupants" or "fascists" -- they both seem a bit surreal to me.

Giustino ütles ...

You know a real problem in the Estonian psyche is the way the occupation came down in 1940.

Because the pre-war government made some fundamental errors. They can only be seen in hindsight. Some errors are:

1) Jailing the 1924 communists *for life* and then pardoning them in the heady year of 1938. They made convenient embittered puppets in June 1940.

2) Outlawing the Vaps and organizing the coup in 1934. Andres Larka would have most certainly been elected. Instead you had illegitimate leaders -- Päts and Laidoner. Shutting down a democracy is a bad idea, no matter how much you don't like the outcome.

3) Not putting up resistance in 1940. Päts saw it as suicide. In the end that's what the government got anyway. If the Estonians had even put of more symbolic resistance, so many of these arguments would have been irrelevant today.

Estonian politicians are haunted by this failure. The psyche is such that some believe that it could unfold again.

I don't believe so (knock on wood) because even in the most rage filled days following the removal of the "Bronze goon", the worst you heard out of Moscow is "sanctions." If you watched the TV talk shows, that's mostly what you heard from the most angry ones as well.

But there is this idea that the right-wing has historically been correct and it has been the left or even the moderates that have sold out Estonia.

Therefore they carry with them that fear that those who oppose their policies are effectively selling out Estonia.

This hinders domestic political discourse. People should not have to live in fear of being labeling betrayers or sell out if they think whatever the kool-aid they are serving at IRL headquarters tastes a bit funky.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, for an outsider Jaan's comments are so much hot air (even with some quite familiar Putinian cadences, surely coincidental). It is Guistino's business how he runs his blog, and you don't get an audience like this for doing it poorly.

Anyway, about Päts, I know we are supposed to be critical of him, but I think he did absolutely the rational thing in that nightmarish fall of 1939. Who could have foretold that even a futile act of resistance would have been most probably much better? In hindsight it is hard to think of any series of actions that would have been worse than those taken, but how could that have been seen at the time? The original problem surely was the suppression of the Vapsid and along with that the Estonian democracy and free political debate, which I guess would have led to a show of quite capable resistance in 1939, but even then, at the time, there weren't very good alternatives, and no benefit of hindsight. Sometimes it seems very facile how the historians glibly criticize past actions with 20/20 hindsight.

Giustino ütles ...

Well, Stockholm, most of Tallinn was spared in the war, allowing the city to prosper from tourism in the 90s and 00s, putting Estonia back on its feet.

Imagine if it had been destroyed like Konigsberg? That would have been terrible.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Yeah, that was actually quite the point - I mean why I think we shouldn't criticize Päts so freely these days. Yes, in the end Tallinn wasn't spared awful damage and there would have been no political charades staged by Stalin and Zhdanov, half-believed by some even today. But surely no-one would have been able to foresee that in September 1939.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Päts should be critizised. Because the government did not tell the truth gave only shady information to the people. Shortly after the moment when they have sold Estonia the first officers were leaving the country by advice of the minister of defence. Laidoner.
They saved their lives and families, army people.
The officers at home were murdered later after the arrival of the Soviets.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, but not glibly criticized, with full benefit of hindsight - I think his course was fully rational, and with those stakes, one that seemed most to protect the basic physical existence of the Estonian nation. The nightmarish situation then was that the two giant terror states were in league and the West had its access to Baltic totally blocked. Now we know that so many horrors were on their way that armed resistance probably would have been better in the long run, but then no horrors were offered, just a deal about military bases with Stalin. Very bad, yes, but no occupation, no extermination of national existence.

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...

The morning news came on while me and my wife were in the middle of

Giustino ütles ...

Well, Van der Tartare told Riga that they should allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections. What do you think?

Estonia's non-citizens (and foreign citizens, like myself) already have this right.

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...

Van der Tartare also said in Tallinn, that there are no problems in Byelarussia and people live happily there.
P.S, Giustino, I am not quite happy with the comments of doppelgänger ubailves. If you click on on the profile of the strange comment of ubailves above here and below your next posting,you will find an empty profile. My profile is not quite empty.

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...

Never trust a Dutchman. Latvia's Russians always have been more unhappy than them in Estonia. Lukashenko is out of control. P.S.: Giustino, you must help. The evil ubailves has trapped me. You will tell his identity by evil content around his orifice i.e., beard around his mouth area. He will say strange comments and also weird things that sound intellectual. Before he trapped me in this room he was looking at my stuff and said it will be good to drink my beer and be me and he said "Oh do you know if Master Edward requires any assistance finishing off his book?" Then he laughed in an evil manner and sat at my laptop!

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...

Informational noise and fraudulent use of nicknames
http://russophobe.blogspot.com/2007/02/commissars-of-internet-part-i_21.html#links

On unmoderated forums the Brigade may stifle sharp political discussions that are undesirable for the authorities through the use of enormous volumes of meaningless messages on different themes -- what has come to be called a “flood”. Often these texts are pornographic or anti-Semitic in nature, and are repeated dozens or even hundreds of times in a row. Sometimes the brigade will use the name and address of an opponent with a liberal reputation to write a massive series of abusive or obscene postings. It is worth noting that this method is practically never used against the Brigade itself -- in other words, the liberal-opponents do not consider themselves capable of stealing other people’s names and addresses.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Päts should be critizised. Because the government did not tell the truth gave only shady information to the people.

The man should be criticised because he destryed the democratic system and usurped the power, making the Republic look as a sad joke. If the democracy had been restored, say in the 50-s, Päts, Laidoner and others would have been served jail times for their roles in 1933. Those bloody bastards violated the constitution and everybody knows it, yet so many people try to whitewash them, only because they were not loonie killer commies, but simply corrupted oligarchs. We owe them no respect.

plasma-jack ütles ...

The question is not whether Päts made right or wrong decisions. The fact is that HE HAD NO RIGHT whatsoever to decide anything on behalf of the Republic of Estonia, in fact no more than Larka, Lauristin or Vares had.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, the vapsid surely were on their way to electoral triumph when Päts and Laidoner intervened. What would have they done with that eventual victory? I don't think they were the greatest respecters of representative democracy. This is not to exculpate Päts but those were bad years for liberal democracy everywhere, so perhaps there weren't many good options left. Perhaps most telling thing is that when things calmed down, there was no prompt return to lawful governance.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Well, the vapsid surely were on their way to electoral triumph when Päts and Laidoner intervened. What would have they done with that eventual victory?

Should we call mr Laaneots next time when Kesk wins elections? This "we had to make coup because if we didn't the bad guys would have" doesn't sound more reasonable to me than the Soviet apology for 1940.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Point is, if we think that Päts did not do any wrong, then it also sounds reasonable to reinstate dictatorship when the society gets more unstable again. I wouldn't rule out that in my lifetime, some clever guy WILL say that "the Estonian nation is sick, can a sick person know what's good for him? Well, mr Päts knew the recipe." Personally, I would prefer living in democracy, even if I really dislike its leaders. Päts's experience should show us that when democracy is destroyed, the republic will not last very long.

What if Larka had won the elections, retained the democracy AND reinforcing both the military and military ties with Baltic states and Finland? What if.

plasma-jack ütles ...

(sorry for bad English, those last days and nights have been taking toll on my health)

stockholm slender ütles ...

But I'm not saying that I would approve of what they did, just that there were mitigating factors in very difficult circumstances. I would see similar action by Weimar Republic as absolutely a good thing for democracy - the problem with Päts is that we don't know how far vapsid would have gone, and also that he didn't return to democracy when it would have been possible. Still, his rule cannot be in any way be compared with Stalin or Hitler - he did not crush the civil society with systematic state terror.