Crap. I just finished several long days of writing a 12-page foreign analysis paper for school. My chosen topic was to explain why Estonia seeks to integrate with and identify as part of the Nordic community -- I know, how predictable.
Reading through the literature it really brought back splendid memories of arguing over the significance of different periods of submission to foreign powers in Estonia.
But after reading through many sources and weighing those in terms of different IR analysis approaches, I came to the conclusion about arguing the merits of Estonian Nordic affinity is something akin to arguing over astrology -- definitions are highly subjective and there exists no genuine test to say whether someone on the cusp is exhibiting traits more similar to Leo or to Virgo ...
What I did find out though is that the whole discourse has been bogged down in Ilves' Jõulumaa construction of a northern culture of workaholic, joyless alcoholics who like sitting in front of the Internet all day long. People, like me, sitting around trying to convince people that Estonians and Finns have stuff in common.
If anything the reason that the concept hasn't been warmly embraced in Estonia is because Estonians don't really embrace anything. They know who they are-- Estonians, and that's all they know. It took them awhile to warm up to Lutheranism. It took them a long time to figure out they were Estonians. I don't think they ever enjoyed the USSR in any capacity -- maybe the cartoons. And when they joined the EU? Yawn. Estonia is like a little northern island. Who cares what is going on on the other side of the Läänemeri or Peipsi järv? Tantsud Tähtedega is on.
But back to the main point. I discovered the reasoning behind these policies is quite deep. There is the economic factor of attracting investment from the ultra-wealthy Nordic countries. It makes sense to assuage their provincial paranoid selves about investing in the "Wild East."
Then there was the constructionist argument -- that if Russia is going to construct the former-Soviet Union as the "near abroad", then it made sense to construct Estonia as part of the West for security in the widest sense. It was just a post-Cold War region-building exercise.
Finally, the clincher that drives this policy -- Finland and Sweden have stuff and they are right next door. Question: What's the closest foreign capital to Helsinki? Answer: Tallinn. Question, what is the closest foreign capital to Stockholm? Answer: Tallinn. Given that basic geography, the fact that these are all relatively small European states sharing maritime borders -- the lifeblood of Baltic trade -- it kind of makes sense that Estonia might wish to pursue highly-integrated relations with both countries.
But more to the point, which one of those flags is your favorite? I am sort of partial to the one in the third column on the bottom row ... it's quite striking.