reede, märts 14, 2008

smug city

I wouldn't hold up Estonia as a model because I think they have been quite smug. Their particular problem is the Estonian Russians -- their integration has not gone as fast as it should have done in the past few years.

The Bronze Soldier riot was a wake-up call to them. They're not getting the solid allegiance of a new generation of Baltic Russians. Fifteen years ago no one would have dreamed that Russian teenagers would be rioting in the streets of Tallinn shouting 'USSR forever!'

--
Economist correspondent Edward Lucas in an interview with Alfa.lt last week.

The thing about this comment is that it is true. Yes, some Estonian politicians might strike an outsider as smug and self-satisfied. They suffer from 'Tallinn syndrome' -- where the country girl or boy from Haapsalu or Paide suddenly finds themselves surrounded by buildings that are taller than three stories and the international political jet set and are too absorbed in the euphoric moment of "I've finally made it, baby" to think about what comes next. Integrating Estonian Russians? That's the last thing on the list of things to do for a person afflicted with Tallinn syndrome. They are more concerned in skirting zoning laws.

Yet, on the flipside, the 'Western' European outlook on 'Eastern' European countries seems smug in itself. Hey, Estonia, you need to work on integration. Easier said than done. What is the solution? Feel good, useless legislation? National campaigns to get ethnic Estonians to view their Russian-speaking neighbors as 'equals'. That would be great, if ethnic Estonians actually liked their ethnic Estonian neighbors. Instead, Estonians tend to treat each other as competition. As someone once famously pointed out, the only authority an Estonian might be willing to salute is themselves in the mirror. But please, integrate those Russian-Estonian/Estonian-Russians, kohe!

So Lucas is right, but is the very expectation of what Estonia is capable of doing in itself wrong? Is it that Estonian syndrome, Flasher was talking about: the presumption of competence. I personally believe that, either by the basis of civilizational outlook or constant self-delusion, Estonia has become a quasi-Western European country. One may worry about the security implications of some teenagers burning an Estonian flag or chanting 'USSR Forever', but, shit, how about the security implications of publishing some drawings of the Prophet Mohammed in Denmark?

I mean first it was just the insult to Islam. Then it was the way society reacted to the insult to Islam. Then it was the way the police put extra pressure on those who may be insulted by the Danish cartoonists' insult to Islam. And then it was those anarchist lovers of multiculturalism who turned over cars and set fire to buildings to let ordinary Danes know that they are in solidarity with their friends who may have been insulted by the Danish police or the sinister cartoonists they protect. So, please, Denmark, integrate your Muslims and anarchists. Pass a law, build a new joint ungdomshuset-mosque, and stop selling flags to the Iranians to burn. Please, anything to make the uncomfortable reality of violent, idiotic youth go away.

Perhaps my world view has been too informed by the musings of lost existencialistas. Perhaps I too suffer from Tallinn syndrome. I have had my sõõrikud, drunk my coffee, rubbed elbows with people who know people. But I have heard the same conversation in the dormitories of Copenhagen that I have heard in the living rooms of Tallinn. People don't want to live their lives in fear and they do believe in integration. Yet beyond that, they know not what to do. What can an individual really do, other than work, eat, sleep, and occasionally reproduce? In the meantime, our hapless northern individualists find themselves hijacked by 'fascists' -- as a Danish colleague referred to the anarchists, Muslim extremists, and Bronze Soldier 'defenders' -- for whom they have little or no respect.

It appears that there are no easy answers. There are no laws to pass. There is no governmental interference that can make it all go away. We'll just have to cling to the life preserver of rote pragmatism and stomach it. To borrow a line from Braveheart: they can burn our R-Kiosks, but they can never take our freedom.

50 kommentaari:

erueestlane ütles ...

Silly me. There I was, waiting for some kind of other punchline than "yuck".

Giustino ütles ...

i gave it a new hollywood ending.

stockholm slender ütles ...

I'm slightly at loss here - I mean aren't things relatively fine actually? Estonia is securely integrated to the West. The recent Russian bluster is obviously meant mostly for domestic consumption as empty posturings usually are. Yes, there are obvious difficulties concerning the integration of the russophone minority and more could be done - but more could always be done. There won't be any magic tricks that would do the job immediately anyway. Maybe you suffer from the well known Estonian syndrome of overdone cynical pessimism? The tanks are always coming across the border and even if they won't, they will and even if they really, really won't, something else will surely go anyway disastrously wrong and even if it won't it will etc. etc. etc. I mean what's the huge problem at the moment?

nipi ütles ...

You have found excellent interview.
Dermokratiya, Prihvatizatsiya. The latest I knew.
But the integration. How you understand the word. Do we need integration or assimilization. Or something else? Complete rejection and sending them back - or to somewhere else. But how?

Giustino ütles ...

I mean what's the huge problem at the moment?

Setting realistic goals.

Do we need integration or assimilization. Or something else?

Estonia needs to focus on other national projects that focus on all its residents, yet that don't explicitly divide them on basis of ethnicity.

Another problem is how Estonia is conceptualized. I always thought of Estonia as a country of towns. Yet too often it is those wacky politicians in Tallinn that are seen as part of the problem, not the solution.

So less Tallinn, more local government could help. In a way, I think this is how those cities like Sillamäe or Narva will 'become Estonian.' They already think of themselves more as being 'from Narva' than being 'Russian.'

They have, unknowingly, become provincial Estonians.

erueestlane ütles ...

But I totally dig this assessment that the only authority estonians accept are their personal selves. I've struggled all my life with it. Never understood any mass-hysterias (think US elections, nazi gatherings, communist marches, etc). Could be that this is why we cry when we sing together (think laulupidu)? It is so rare and THE only time when we can agree on something and collectively submit ourselves to the authority of ... melody. So we enjoy this rare feeling of agreement immensely when we get it.

Kristopher ütles ...

So less Tallinn, more local government could help.

Less Tallinn in Tallinn. Move some ministries and government functions to Narva. Raise these public servants' salaries as a bonus, not the salaries of MPs.

Train people who know what to do with oil shale, build a modern gas and diesel refinery in the NE. Build new towns for the employees, just like the Soviets did, but make it look like Reston, Virginia.

In short, don't just focus on non-Estonians. They will see many integration attempts as a threat. Instead, bring make places like Narva Estonian.

n-lane ütles ...

What can an individual really do, other than work, eat, sleep, and occasionally reproduce? Giustino

Think and spread their ideas.

There is no governmental interference that can make it all go away. Giustino

Governmental interference like "to speak Russian would mean accepting 50 years of Soviet brutalisation" by TH Ilves or the recent "Eesti keele vaenlane ei ole inglise keel, nagu paljud proovivad propagandistlikult väita. See ei puutu meie keelega üldse kokku. Eesti keele vaenlased on ikkagi need, kes õpivad eesti keelt siin ja hakkavad seda kasutama nii kõnes kui kirjas" by Urmas Sutrop won't make it all go away most certainly.

There is no way as long as there is no will.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

I am not sure, but would stop adressing the "Russian" or "Russian speaking" minority would make a difference.

I mean, at our Lettland blog Tanja Russita describes the result of a survey about/with "Russians" in Latvia. The outcome was a huge varity of self definition and only a few if at least none felt like a Russian from Russia. One reason of many: Most of them have Baltic accent already, using words taken from Latvian what makes you an outsider in Russia etc..
After reading that, one get a feeling that things are going in the right direction already, but what would make the progress of integration faster. Is there really discrimination by finding jobs in Estonia? For me it seems to be the most important part of integration.

The survey in Russian:
Russians in Latvia

Giustino ütles ...

Is there really discrimination by finding jobs in Estonia? For me it seems to be the most important part of integration.

You mean you didn't see the 'only citizens should apply' notice in the classifieds?

People rely on the state to do everything for them here. It's actually quite Scandinavian in its philosophy. The idea is, "I am not going to tell the Russophone to learn the majority language, I'll let the state tell the Russophone for me."

For something like 50 years, Estonians internalized the angst of going to the kohvik and having some smug Soviet bastard tell them to 'speak a human language' when they ordered a donut.

Instead of pulling the bastard over the counter by his red star pin and letting him know his language is quite human, the Estonian turned the other cheek and voted for Mart Laar come election time.

If more Estonians were able to have the guts that Laar himself has, then there would be no need for certificates and language inspectorates. And if the Russophones woke up and realized that they were in the fictional village of Jante, then perhaps it would all make sense and they'd stop expecting a rosy welcome. the 10 Jante "laws":

Don't think that you are special; Don't think that you are of the same standing as us; Don't think that you are smarter than us; Don't fancy yourself as being better than us; Don't think that you know more than us; Don't think that you are more important than us; Don't think that you are good at anything; Don't laugh at us; Don't think that anyone cares about you; Don't think that you can teach us anything.

That about sums it up.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

This is a list that fits well with old fashion behaviour of some Germans: Teach them how to do things.This is what I witnessed myself some Germans (not all) did traveling in Scandinavia especially Norway in the 70s and 80s. Kind of snorting at things (if this is possible). And funny, those did not know anything what Germans had done to Norway 1940-1945. Maybe only that there were some German soldiers at that time. When I started to understand Norwegian and stayed only with Norwegians older people told openly to me what they were thinking about us. But never showed when meeting Germans. What happened quite often even in rural areas since Norway is a country of nomad traveler. Maybe I am exaggerating here but experiencing this the first time when an still angry old Norwegian opened up the naiv view about nice Scandinavia was gone. Once we went to a remote farm doing some retail business. The owner did not speak a word to me, later family members told me why. War story.

Alex ütles ...

Jens-Olaf makes a good point. Words matter and it only enforces the separation when you continually refer to folks as the Russians, Russian speakers, Russian minority. Because it's not that they don't speak Estonian that's the problem, it's that they speak Russian.

Psychologically, you could probably make a difference over time by saying something more like non-Estonian speaking citizens or the majority of our citizens of Narva. Take the Russia out of it and make them sound included as opposed to excluded.

I was walking down the street in my neighborhood here in Tallinn and a young guy came up to me and said something in Russian. I just gave him a blank stare and he immediately switched over to Mis address on? So I told him and on his merry way he went. No big deal. Here in Tallinn, I have no doubt the young folks understand the need for both languages regardless of your ethnicity. They don't really need to be told. But Tallinn is easy.

In places like Narva you need to foster the idea that there is value in knowing Estonian. I went to a restaurant in 2003 in Narva and the young waitress didn't speak Estonian (or English or German) but only Russian. How do you encourage her to learn Estonian? What is her incentive? Do you force it or do you create an environment in Narva that makes it attractive to learn?

I think you'd have better luck with the latter if you can figure out how.

Giustino ütles ...

Jens-Olaf makes a good point.

Yeah, he does. But as N-lane pointed out, some people just can't resist.

Do you force it or do you create an environment in Narva that makes it attractive to learn?

I think you'd have better luck with the latter if you can figure out how.


It was a nice idea to move a ministry there, seeing as the ministry of education is in Tartu.

There seems to be some desire to rebuild the old city, or at least part of it. But from what I understand the university has some investments there as well.

Can anyone shed light on this project?

Andres ütles ...

In my opinion speaking Estonian amongst the Russian youth (who are not particularly good at speaking Estonian) is kind of not popular or awkward. I've experienced this in university. When the teacher knows Russian, 70% of young Russians will talk to him/her in Russian. Only a minority of them (usually the more intelligent-looking, to be honest) are brave enough to address them in Estonian (girls tend to be more apt too). Also it seems like they fear that other Russians will look bad on them if they ask questions in Estonian etc.

Also, a kind of segregation happens in an Estonian-Russian group where there are more than 2-3 Russians. The Estonians are in one corner, socialising and laughing, and the Russians are in another corner, talking in Russian. What I'm saying is not discriminatory but when you're in a foreign social group, then speaking in a language only your fellow nationals know kind of isolates you and makes other people distrust you. A'la "Hmm.. they spoke something in Russian I understood absolutely nothing about and now they're all laughing. Maybe it was about me/us/the Estonians." etc. So while I think it's important to hold on to your culture, I seriously think young Russians should embrace Estonian more. Because well, let's face it, the young Estonians aren't going to embrace Russian.

Kerli ütles ...

Integration is really just a word. When I asked my 17-year-old private student, an ethnic Russian, what should be done to relieve the tensions between ethnic Estonians and the Russian-speaking citizens, he rather bluntly told me that integration was the key. But what does that entail anyway?
There's quite a lot of both voluntary and imposed social segregation present. Most Russian speakers tend to choose other Russian speakers to socialise with and I guess Estonian speakers do the same. Some schools still attract mainly Russian speakers, even though their education is predominantly in Estonian or at least bilingual. At the Tartu University dormitories, the student village staff perpetuates the separation of ethnic Estonians from the Russian-speaking citizens of Estonia by assigning them to live on different floors. I'm one of the three native Estonians on my floor, so clearly a minority here in our mini-society.
Yes, the Russian speakers are seen as the party animal types and truth be told, their gatherings *tend* to be louder than those organised by ethnic Estonians. I don't have a problem with this and I'm not complaining about having to put up with the entertainment forced upon me at 2.30 am; I'm complaining about the lack of proper wall insulation. But I guess integration doesn't work because we don't want it to work, we have no real need for this as most people find the status quo satisfactory. Of course, individual effort is needed. But as long as the society provides us with safety nets and attempts continue to be made to eliminate opportunities for socialisation between ethnic Estonians and the Russian speakers as if it really might result in a tremendous catastrophe, nothing's going to change. Deus is not going to come ex machina to solve everything and the word "integration" does not hold some intrinsic power that eliminates the issue or the reasons behind it.

n-lane ütles ...

Jens-Olaf makes a good point. Words matter and it only enforces the separation when you continually refer to folks as the Russians, Russian speakers, Russian minority. Alex

What you think matters more than what you say. Think ethnicities and you talk ethnicities.

Because it's not that they don't speak Estonian that's the problem, it's that they speak Russian. Alex

If they all spoke, say, Chinese (or any other language) instead of Russian, would it be a problem then?

a survey about/with "Russians" in Latvia. Jens-Olaf

It's an interesting survey. I think this is what Flasher-T is trying to say in his less scientific and, to my opinion, less neutral articles.

"Viele sehen sich als „Weltbürger“, als Europäer." — that's the best line.

Deus is not going to come ex machina Kerli

+1

nipi ütles ...

I think also that moving a ministry to Narva or maybe other state institution - could help a lot. Anyhow, certain jobs require citizenship. And knowledge of languages (not only estonian but usually english in state sector, russian and finnish additionally in service sector). Nationality is not a factor. Knowledge and skills are.
Telling a practical story - why a new Board was established in Tartu - already some 8 years ago - was that in Tartu salary level was lower and room rental level for offices also.
Next point will be to set up also normal train connection with Narva. Quick train like they speak now about Tallinn-Tartu route.

Giustino ütles ...

If they all spoke, say, Chinese (or any other language) instead of Russian, would it be a problem then?

Would people believe it would be as easy to integrate Chinese? Probably not. That's why Denmark gets a pass. It's an issue of 2+2=4 versus 2+2=5.

People falsely believe that Estonia is facing a 2+2=4 kind of problem. Pass a law, create a program, integrate them. Instead it is very much a 2+2=5 kind of problem. Everyone is so sensitive that you can't even have a rational dialog. It is what Denmark is facing. In this world of 'fascists' versus 'monument defenders' logic goes out the window.

Deus is not going to come ex machina Kerli

There is a perception that a) there is a problem and b) something needs to be done. But nobody knows exactly what the problem is, those afflicted by it have not yet defined their relationship with the state, let alone offered measures to change the relationship, and so its outsiders like myself that are left trying to reassemble normalcy out of a perception of chaos that could strike at anytime.

Like I said, Estonia is like Jante. It believes that it can organize everything. And it is faced with something to which it cannot organize a solution. So Estonia just churns the same sordid material and ideas over and over again without any social consensus that problem X has been solved.

nipi ütles ...

Nice. We accept that problem exists. Problem is that there are people, whom we did not invited. And they dont want to go home anymore, saying they do not have more homes, their home is here. But it is my home, not theirs, they came here later...

Kristopher ütles ...

Tallinn may be smug, but it has always been about action. On the other hand, with due respect to their learned eminences, the Tartu crowd here seems to be on a raft trip down the Emajõgi with overintellectual talk about perceptions and and conceptualizations. My head is spinning -- and it ain't the Tallinn air.

Lucas is all about the hairy hand of the Russian state in everythng. What's this about Estonia having failed its ethnic Russians? Can he really have it both ways?

Anyway, there's a big difference between smugness and the complex attitude that one takes in the case of a troubled child one have no choice but to raise.

The conventional wisdom has long been that the nonintegrated Russians are people with vocational and technical educations and people who used to be employed in heavy industry. They can't even be retrained very easily.

Teaching them Estonian is like trying to teach French to steel workers in Flint, Michigan. I.e., hopeless.

Наблюдатель ütles ...

The problem exists for one reason only: These people--who rioted when the obnoxious, obscene, and offensive symbol of fascist occupation was removed to where it belongs--are here because Hitler and Stalin made it so. They have no legitimacy, and they know it. So like all inferior people they resort to superiority posturing driven by their inferiority complex. They are supremacists and they are a time bomb which the invaders planted here before they retreated.
To a tibla trash rioting hoodlum accepting legitimacy of the Estonian state is the same as for an Israeli Arab to acknowledge the legitimacy of the State of Israel or for a rabid Afrocentrist anti-American hate-spewing black in Chicago's South Side to acknowledge U.S. of A. It puts them beyond the pale in their peer group at best, or dead as in the case of Israel.
Estonia is better off than Israel or America. Old invaders will die, and there is a chance the young will want to become mainstream.

Re: "In places like Narva you need to foster the idea that there is value in knowing Estonian.[...] How do you encourage her to learn Estonian? What is her incentive? Do you force it or do you create an environment in Narva that makes it attractive to learn?"

I remember staying in a superb place on Peipsi Jarv in 1997 - the Külalistemaja Uusküla. A pretty young Russian girl from Sillamae or Narva told me that that she understood the value of learning Estonian but found it very difficult in a city with less than 2% of Estonian-speakers.

Sending them beyond the Narova River would be nice. Ceding Ida Virumaa was a good idea, but Russia shut it down. We already discussed the reason for it, so I won't repeat myself.

Наблюдатель ütles ...

Being an immigrant in America I do not believe in ingertation. Rather, I believe in integration as an integral part of assimilation. Some in my peer group maintain that assimilating is the first priority, more important than learning a trade.

Giustino ütles ...

I think the situation could be framed as thus:

a) people say there is a problem; b) people expect the state to take the lead in providing a solution to that problem; c) there seems to be actually little the state can do to solve this problem.

I mean we can talk about empty gestures and setting the tone. I, for example, think some parties in government would be less likely to get swamped in this messy ethnic stuff than others (SDE, Greens, maybe Rahvaliit). But what can they really do to "solve" the problem of some young people being idiots?

Why do people expect the Estonian government to be able to "reach" the kid with Sprite and tampons or the fool in Jõhvi with the hand grenade? I mean do people expect Anders Rasmussen to be able to 'reach' the anarchists or Islamists who set fire over the repossession of a building or the publication of images? NO. They expect the police to make short work of those who destroy others' property.

What I am confused about here is that most Western European countries are besieged by integration problems and these are basically the only models Estonia has to look for. Whom should Estonia look up to? France? Denmark? The UK?

Kristopher ütles ...

Whom should Estonia look up to? France? Denmark? The UK?

US and Canada. Toronto.

Sending them beyond the Narova River would be nice.

I was hoping to foment a conflict between Tallinn and Tartu for a change. Why don't people ever take the bait? The other, ethnic non-conflict is so unoriginal.

But why would you be in favour of ceding Ida-Viru County, Blar2D2? Including the oil reserves. Pray tell; I missed it the first time.

ingertation

sounds like what probably happened to the Ingrians, who had a shared claim on some of the NE.

Giustino ütles ...

I was hoping to foment a conflict between Tallinn and Tartu for a change. Why don't people ever take the bait? The other, ethnic non-conflict is so unoriginal.

Tallinn's problem is that it thinks that it is Estonia. It forgets that it's attached to these other 15 Estonian counties where other people live and don't necessarily think about Tallinn all day long.

erueestlane ütles ...

"It's the economy, stupid!" No amount of convincing, legislating or D-terminaling them will do the trick that money can do. As long as Estonia remains a poor backwater of Europe, there is no incentive for anybody to learn anything. It's that simple.

Every Russian here, in the U.S. speaks English, no matter how hard it was for them to learn it.

I am sure that in France they speak French and in Germany they speak German.

So give it time. Good things are happening already.

Katrin ütles ...

Many of employees in the governmental instutution where I work are russians. And we all get along just fine.

In my child's kindergarten are russian children in same groups with estonians, it's natural, it has always been so and russian kids talk good Estonian before they have to go to school. And they go to estonian schools and manage well. My son attended the first grade this year with many russian children from his kindergarten. More and more young russians attend to Estonian schools and, mark it!, to posts where they know they have to socialise in estonian.

It was only yesterday I had a job interview with a young russian girl - she said she wonts to work with estonians in a "kollektiiv" where estonians constitute the majority. That's the reason she wonts to leave her present job in a company where all the workers are russians. So, it is getting better every day. And the most powerful tool for "integration" (whatever the word means) is our own attitude and willingness to cooperate and socialise.

Russians who have friends among estonians tend to have somehow wider picture of things going on in the world - many of russians traditionally watch only Russian television and read only Russian news and many of them cry for Soviet Union. I've been in a situations where I had to explain to a young russian woman how to use the Internet Bank and other Internet products the Estonian websites provide. And she was curious about Estonian history - all her life she had been living in Estonia and she had no knowlidge about the history of her homeland... she knew the histrory of USSR, though ;).

So, it's kind of funny to hear from russians "Oh?, Uh? Really? I didn't know.." And the reason for that is - in Soviet times in russian schools of Estonia pupils had different text books and different programs, so they where taught different things. In public schools of Estonia all children, no matter what their nationality may be, should be taught by the same basic program (of course, every school has a program of its own, with additions to the basic). And that process is in progress right now.

nipi ütles ...

Btw, still in russian schools often they teach by russian-origin-books. And often teachers attitude to estonian history is similar like ours was in soviet time - tell, tell, we know that you have to tell this, but nobody believes...
In russian-speaking areas we have two options: to go straigth to estonian schools, or at least to replace majority of teachers in russian schools.

Estonia in World Media (Rus) ütles ...

The easiest way could have been drawing the border line some 30 or so km west of Narva. Not doable at the moment. Have first to wait for that second, 600 gw power line across the gulf.

Alex ütles ...

Kerli said: But I guess integration doesn't work because we don't want it to work, we have no real need for this as most people find the status quo satisfactory.

After all the analysis, rationalizations, psychological assessments & non-sense ramblings, I think the reality is just what Kerli said. Most people find the status quo satisfactory. Why put so much effort into changing that?

Giustino ütles ...

Most people find the status quo satisfactory. Why put so much effort into changing that?

I am not so much saying it must change, but many outsiders are convinced that 'something must be done.' I am rather uncertain that something can be done, but such philosophical meanderings are worth little.

alexDpg ütles ...

Every Russian here, in the U.S. speaks English, no matter how hard it was for them to learn it.

Excuse me but that is absolute nonsense. Erueestlane, I can take you to many Russian stores and 'stolovaya's in US. where clearly over 50% of staff and patrons do not understand any English. Not even questions like "how much is it". And some of them are quite young. Some of them also appear not to like non-Russians. One babushka started to talk to my 6 year old daughter in Russian, when I told her politely that "ona amerikanka, ona ne ponimayet" (she's American, she does not understand) then she gave me a look full of hatred. Go to places like Petrovski Market, Bustleton, Philadelphia ... I can bet my house you will find Russians not speaking English.

erueestlane ütles ...

Some kind of underclass of rooskies similar to the ones in Ida-Virumaa here in the States? Interesting. Must be a syrreal experience for them to live here liek that. As if NY was some kind of Krasnoyarsk. :-)

Doris ütles ...

The best thing to do at the moment is stop talking so much about it and just let things settle a bit. The hooplah has had the positive and negative effect of opening a festering wound and letting the pus out. But for the love of Matrix, it is obvious that in order for the wound to heal it needs to be left alone in plenty of air instead of poulticed, picked, poked and smeared with cowdung.

Juhan ütles ...

In Germany as well. My wife has some Russian family friends in Southern Germany (near Munich). One of them is a doctor and he says that he has plenty of Russian patients who are bad at German or can't speak it at all.

Giustino ütles ...

But people like van der Linden don't want to leave it alone. They want to see results: "X percent were integrated in the year 2008 ..."

Doris ütles ...

Well then treat those people to a two-month stay in the second-best hotel in all of the Kamtchatka peninsula and then see what they say about the condition of Russians in Estonia.

Giustino ütles ...

No, no, no. I think Van der Linden and all those who truly care about integration should get a free suvila in Narva-Jõensuu. That's how the game works. We'll have him singing 'eestlane olen, eestlaseks jään' in no time!

n-lane ütles ...

Most people find the status quo satisfactory. Why put so much effort into changing that?

I am not so much saying it must change, but many outsiders are convinced that 'something must be done.
(Kerli + Alex + Giustino)

Do you know, for example, that Estonia has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the WHO region Europe? (see WHO's 'HIV/AIDS country profile' for Estonia; and here is a comparison chart in German).

What do you think are the reasons for this?

Giustino ütles ...

What do you think are the reasons for this?

Good question. HIV entered this country from Venemaa via the drug trade. I am guessing that there was a relatively large addict community living in Narva and environs who came into contact with the virus through sharing needles with their counterparts in St. Petersburg. From Narva, it spread to Tallinn.

What to think about this? Questions to ask are: how do you stop the flow of drugs from Russia to Estonia. Another question is, why are there so many IV drug users in Narva in the first place? You could blame unemployment. But the fact is that the unemployment rate has halved in the past decade. Is it just simple logic that in a economically depressed urban area one will find usage of hard drugs? Maybe. But it hasn't spread to Lääne-Viru or Jõgeva yet. I guess the heroin dealers don't deliver to the countryside.

Another factor in transmission is this country's two-faced attitude about sex. On one hand, they advertise the buxom blond drinking
Aura beverages. On the other side, I think many people would blush if you mentioned the word 'kondoom'.

You must also add in the island mentality: 'it can happen elsewhere, but not to us'. That's how it made its way from the addicts to the general population.

But how do you change it? Stop the supply of drugs? Raise awareness of HIV? Increase sex education in schools? I am sure the state is at work on all of these fronts. Supposedly the number of cases is decreasing. In total, around 5,000 people have HIV or AIDS in Estonia.

Kerli ütles ...

I maybe grossly mistaken here but it seems to me that drug prevention campaigns have been generally targeted at Estonian speakers. As it was said above, the problem is especially acute among Russian speakers of Ida-Virumaa and Tallinn. True, there are some Russian clips on drug prevention websites (for instance, narko.ee) but none of them has been aired on ETV for obvious reasons and you don't see any print ads in Russian displayed in public places either. Perhaps it would be appropriate to make an exception in the strict language policy?

Of course, campaigns in Russian might irritate the Russian speaking population because of the obvious implications. Sure, ethnic Estonians do drugs too, but campaigns that are in Estonian and feature Estonians simply aren't an effective means of reaching the Russian speakers.

nipi ütles ...

What sense is in airing of russian-oriented clips in ETV as over 90% of russians are looking only russian tv. Waste of time and money.
Ironically saying - could it be closed community, then same as on drinking - let them drink more, the faster they end up the problems with themselves.

Kerli ütles ...

What sense is in airing of russian-oriented clips in ETV as over 90% of russians are looking only russian tv.

True. But as far as I know, we don't have our own state-funded Russian channel here in Estonia and those that we do get here... The Russian Federation is not going to do the prevention for us.

We do have the news in Russian on ETV, so somebody must be watching those. The clips would perhaps reach at least some Russian speakers here, hopefully have an impact on somebody, and as the clips in Russian exist anyway, it wouldn't be overly costly...

nipi ütles ...

also true, but anyways i would like to have even weak but full russian-languaged tv channel but locally made. Ok, maybe it should start with evenings and in the morning time copying last evening program...

different issue is, should it be at least partly funded by marketing money. anyhow, i think that we do not need there soaps (mexican).
information and local news could be of first importance, then language learning and real stories to make the communities closer, discussion programs where people may call in..
and the board, on which local political culture could be built up in a loyal way to state.

russian community has some good characters - actors and tv-stars. they can be good basis for the program.

i do not think that the establishing of new tv-channel could be so expensive.

Giustino ütles ...

I'd prefer that they have their own channel. It seems weird that ETV switches to Russian at a certain time every day. It just means that I don't watch ETV at that time, and I guess those who watch Russian news on ETV don't watch it any other time. I need to do a little detective work on what is up with getting a Russian ETV channel.

Doris ütles ...

There was this really good program on ETV called Unetud, it was bilingual with two hosts and the studio audience split roughtly 50-50 and the topics were always acute but not only from the whole ethnicity point of view. They discussed the availability of medicine, the "mother's salary", the ban on political commercials etc etc, whatever happened to be important that week. But that was taken off air I believe... Too bad, I really liked the idea, Russians speaking Russian and Estonians Estonian and everyone understood each other, especially since both the hosts were also bilingual and occasionally repeated the main points in one or the other language.

n-lane ütles ...

I am sure the state is at work on all of these fronts. (Giustino)

Sotsiaalminister Maret Maripuu tunnistas, et Eesti jääb kuni 2050. aastani halvima tervishoiu rahastamisega riigiks Euroopa Liidus, sest plaanitud tervishoiukulude kasv lükkus taas edasi.
www.DELFI.ee, 18. märts 2008

Giustino ütles ...

I think the Estonian 'social contract' is a bit misunderstood. On one hand, people dislike when the state does anything because this reminds them of the Soviet era. On the other hand, they expect the state to solve all their problems.

Is it the state's problem that your uncle is an unemployable alcoholic? That's the big question isn't it? The state is supposed to find work for your uncle, get him off the bottle, make him healthy again, and get him paying taxes ... all while being restrained by right wing ideologies that basically say, "you must succeed on your own."

In the US we have all kinds of prevention programs for HIV/AIDS. They talk about it in elementary school through high school, they have testing services in colleges, walk through any 'gay' neighborhood and you'll be besieged by gigantic signs telling you to get tested. And yet, 40,000 people each year still get it. Whose responsibility is it?

n-lane ütles ...

Is it the state's problem that your uncle is an unemployable alcoholic? (Giustino)

There are big differences between alcoholism/unemployment on the one hand and HIV/AIDS on the other. The situation with HIV/AIDS clearly demonstrates the ethnic and social divide, as the majority of the infected are people from the Russian-speaking minority and from low-income environments at the same time.

In the US we have all kinds of prevention programs for HIV/AIDS. (...) And yet, 40,000 people each year still get it.

I've never been to the US, but from what I know, the ethnic and social divide in the US is much bigger than in Estonia.

Whose responsibility is it? (Giustino)

It is your responsibilty as you're an American citizen.

If the guy nest door has AIDS and doesn't care about it, blaming it on him wouldn't make him care. And if he doesn't care, his AIDS is not only his problem, but becomes your problem too, because the risk of infection in your neighbourhood increases.

In Estonia, people like Наблюдатель might suggest just to send the guy off to Siberia in this case: but even to implement this impossible solution would mean to take responsibility (at least to some extent) for the guy next door.

But you have to take responsibility for your solutions too. So I would suggest another solution, which is to give him better health care and better future.

Giustino ütles ...

Let me summarize. I am aware that places like Narva face both economic problems as well as health risks like HIV/AIDS.

But I am also aware that the state has tried to address these problems, and, one could argue that since the HIV infection rate has dropped, along with the unemployment rate, the state has made some progress.

That being said, I lack confidence in the ability of the state to solve all of the people's problems. Someone living in Narva might curse those ethnic Estonians, but the truth is a lot of ethnic Estonians don't have it good either.

The rural parts of this country are cursed by alcoholism and unemployment. But the truth is that a lot of these guys who are sitting around getting drunk and without work are unemployable. And I doubt very much what Maret Maripuu could do to stop their downward spiral towards and early, miserable death.