Is there a former Swedish empire? I would like to think yes. I would like to think that the Swedes have managed to pull their heads out of their rocky archipelago and are now involved in an scheme to regain their sphere of influence, and then the world, one Ikea at a time.
And why wouldn't someone who was pro-Estonia welcome such a development? Ask yourself this, if there was an Estonian Ikea, how different would it be from the Swedish model? Would they also sell simple yet attractive wooden furniture, post-modern spatulas, and northern European jams? Would they also display iconic images of Estonian identity, like wall-to-wall images of young blond couples enjoying themselves at their summer house? I think so.
That's why I have a hard time figuring out why the decision for Hansabank to abandon its "Hansa" brand and instead use the same branding as its Stockholm-based ownership, Swedbank, leaves me feeling a little sour. The "Hansa" brand seemed to belong to all of us. We were all part of this modern Hanseatic League, writing stories about Helsinki that are published in Riga with taxes paid in Vilnius. We were equals. But no longer. Come this autumn, I can no longer go to "Hansabank". I'll have to visit "Swedbank" instead.
While the death of the Hansa ideal is indeed sad, there is good news. The possibility that the Swedes will one day soon abandon their Baltic possessions by signing a financial Treaty of Nystad with Gazprombank seems unlikely. According to Jan Lidén, president and CEO of Swedbank, the rebranding shows the company's "long-term commitment to the Baltic market."