neljapäev, august 28, 2008

merkel tallinnas

It is kind of ironic, given Estonian history, that when the chancellor of Germany arrives to visit Tallinn, the local politicians line up to shake her hand and bask in her presence.

It's also sort of ironic, again given Estonian history, that in reaction to Russia's invasion of Georgia, some Estonian politicians are openly welcoming the possible stationing of NATO troops on their soil. Where will these troops come from? I am not sure. But I wouldn't be surprised if they happened to be compatriots of Dr. Merkel's.

The mutual rapport between the German and Estonian leadership, though, illuminates some of the fundamental dilemmas for the EU given the Georgian crisis. Tallinn, you see, was once Reval. Its Lutheran spires are testament to its Europeanness; its Low German-inspired vocabulary connects Estland to Deutschland in a way that the average Dietrich or Tiidrik might not understand, but the elites certainly do.

But when the German elite looks at Georgia, they perhaps know not what to do. When the EU expanded eastward in 1995 and again in 2004 and 2007, Stockholm became the regional capital of northern Europe and Berlin the heart of the union. Austrians and Slovenians could rub elbows and share mountain climbing tips; Swedes and Estonians could swap Baltic Sea sailing stories.

The predicament with Georgia is that its invasion by Russia and the apparent attempt to unseat its government bring European values, rather than cultural heritage, to the fore. It's no longer a civilizational question, it's a values question, and, in this case, it is much trickier territory for a European elite that is trying to carve out some kind of coexistence with the bloodthirsty capitalists next door in Moscow.

The crisis in that country continues to unfold and, perhaps, will revert to a new kind of frozen conflict. I think, though, that the Georgian crisis has acutely raised the "civilizational project versus values-driven project" question for the European Union. Is it one or the other or both? As of today, there is still no answer.

19 kommentaari:

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

There is still no answer.
I wnet yesterday through scenes from Bosnia, Croatia on Youtube taken more than 10 years ago. The EU then was struggling about what to do after the first clashes in Slovenia 1991. And after. And in Kosovo again. Luckily for the EU that Transnistria seems to be far away.
One of the most important fellows of former chancellor Kohl said in an interview for ARD that we did not care about Russia enough.

nipi ütles ...

So they did it in Bucuresti. While Kohl's commented events resulted with Kosovo, Bucuresti's result is just current war.

martintg ütles ...

A platoon of German troops, preferrably all from Shroeder's home town, based in Narva would be a good start.

Kristopher ütles ...

Not to be too glib, but all of Europe seems like a frozen conflict. Some of that pack ice is pretty old, and I wonder if it, too, will start budging as temperature increases.

Kristopher ütles ...

She looks cold and miserable in that wind up there on Toompea. And if she is waiting for a white ship, she is looking the wrong way.

Giustino ütles ...

She looks cold and miserable in that wind up there on Toompea.

That's the spirit of Toompea.

Karla Valentin ütles ...

Tallinn is Lindanise. Or Tallinn. Leghorn may be Livorno in certain circles because Brits can't pronounce Livorno really well, but never because Brits had territorial pretensions in regard to Italy.

Reval was the temporary name of a city in a territory vanquished by the German crusaders.

Tallinn is not Tallin, Tartu is not Jurjev.

Occupied Denmark and Norway during WW II were not natural and integral parts of the Gross Deutsches Reich just because Hitler said they were. Much as Paris was not a secondary city of the 3rd Reich, but the capital of France, occupied for a little while.

Giustino ütles ...

Have you noticed the old names are recycled now and then? There's a newish hotel in Tartu called the Hotel Dorpat.

Angela Merkin ütles ...

Thank you Angela!


If NATO had taken Georgia under its wing in April, we wouldn't have seen what we've seen in recent months -- provocations against Georgia by separatists controlled by Russia's security services; violation of Georgian airspace by Russian fighters; etc., etc., topped off by the de facto annexation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Angela M. is perhaps the one single person most responsible for Georgia being left out in the cold, together with France and Italy.

And a slight aside - why the suggestion that Estonian politicians kowtow when their counterparts from larger countries show up? OK, Paet specifically is sort of nondescript and has been servile a lot, but Estonia doesn't bootlick a whole lot. To the contrary, sometimes Estonia surprises with its backbone, and Ilves seems to more than hold his own. To suggest that Estonians bask in the radiance of Merkel, who has not really lived up to her expectations, seems a wee bit made up.

Uncle Ho Ho Ho ütles ...

Is there a Hotel Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City?

James ütles ...

Might it not be better if future NATO "tripwire troops" in Estonia were to come from let's say the UK? Or Poland?

Giustino ütles ...

Paet specifically is sort of nondescript and has been servile a lot, but Estonia doesn't bootlick a whole lot.

Has Estonia ever criticized the United States on any policy? Or are all US policies the correct ones? Just asking.

To suggest that Estonians bask in the radiance of Merkel, who has not really lived up to her expectations, seems a wee bit made up.

Merkel is in a powerful position and there is no alternative to her, unless you consider Frank-Walter Steinmeier an alternative. Having Merkel's ear for a couple hours is worth, presumably, something.

And besides, for what other foreign leaders would Estonian lipitsejad line up? Definitely Bush. Maybe Sarkozy. Definitely not Gordon Brown.

Angela Merkin ütles ...

Yes, Estonia, a nation of 900 000 Estonians living in a certain amount of jeopardy, does not criticize the US officially. Toes the party line. Lives in a precarious neighborhood. Does not spit in the collective dessert bowl.

Since the US is the only true game in town allies-wise, other countries might do the same and in fact do (try to stay on America's good side). Members of the coalition of the less than necessarily very willing are involved in a transaction. But also in an honest broker exercise that binds allies.


The fact is Estonians die for America and for what has been termed Western civilization. Me, I think the US was mistaken when it pressed into Iraq. Does it make a lot of sense to jeopardize security interests by putting one's hand on one's hip and starting to shout about mistaken policy?

Living more nobly would be a col privilege to be able to afford.

It is in the vital interests of the Eastern Europeans to back up the good ole USA. To the extent of spilling their blood. To act differently would be to act against human nature.

A lot has gone askew during the Bush years, and more Estonian private persons should have the fortitude and ethics to speak up. A lot is at stake, in terms of maintaining those Western values that constitute moral equity.

Estonian "lipitsejad" ("those who fawn" may be an adequate translation) - this, it seems to me, is an unkind cut, particularly for someone who lives in Estonia as a relative newcomer, to the extent of impugning Estonia honor.

If kissing butt were a dominant characteristic of Estonians I might not object, but it is not accurate and it is fair to call you on this. Even bloggers ought to try to "get it right". Estonia is not infested with brown-nosers any more than other cultures. It is not a distinguishing trait. Not only below the belt but also unfair.

Giustino ütles ...

Yes, Estonia, a nation of 900 000 Estonians living in a certain amount of jeopardy, does not criticize the US officially.

Why do you always sell yourselves short? There's 920,000 ethnic Estonians and 11,000 Finns in Estland. Chin up.

If kissing butt were a dominant characteristic of Estonians I might not object, but it is not accurate and it is fair to call you on this.

I think you have the wrong interpretation of what I wrote. Estonia is a country of 1.3 million souls. Its local politicians only have so much power. They derive greater international power by having the ear of, say, an Angela Merkel or a George Bush.

And you know as well as I that the future of this region depends not only on what happens in Washington but what happens in Berlin.

Washington is far away. Berlin is the capital of one of the countries that are trying to lay pipe from Viipuri to Greifswald.

If Estonia wants to influence Berlin's decisions, it must do it the right way. I am sure the Estonian politicians are aware of this.

Estonia is not infested with brown-nosers any more than other cultures. It is not a distinguishing trait. Not only below the belt but also unfair.

I used the word 'lipitsejad' because it is a cool word. If you were a foreigner, you'd use it at every possible opportunity too.

Angela Merkin ütles ...

Lipitseja = brownnoser. A person who kowtows. A person of little dignity and pride.

A Frenchman, Kuwaiti or Estonia takes up residence in the US, starts up a blog and soon enough he writes of American politicians being brownnosers. Of American leaders lining up at the airport or wherever and brownnosing visiting dignitaries. You can make light of it and say "brownnoser" sounds so cute when said in Estonia, but it it is not friendly.

Please do the "walk in someone else's shoes thing for a minute", instead of trying to take the glib way out!

plasma-jack ütles ...

link

from 2005's Postimees, might be a interesting reading today.

The word "lipitsema" is the exact word I'd use to describe Estonian position towards Iraq war. Just copy/paste from Bushist rhetorics, in worst cases enriched with a handful of Part's personal style (btw he, too, said "tule taevas appi" whenever he could").

Giustino ütles ...

It's an interesting question as to the line between brownnosing and looking out for one's national interest.

I don't think Ilves is a lipitseja. But sometimes I find the comments of Isamaaliit members (with regards to American policies) or Keskerakond members (with regards to Russian policies) to be a little too deferential.

bureau ütles ...

One ought to remember that A. Merkel´s vice-chancellor F. W. Steinmeier used to be G. Schroeder´s sherpa. A. Merkel´s party is in coalition with Schroeder´s and Steinmeier´s Social democrats, so she is sort of handicapped by her coalition-partner, a fact much deplored by many Germans. Her sort of shadow-cabinet-foreign-minister E. von Klaeden did confront the Russian Ambassador in Germany these days in a TV "duel" without inhibitions and took a position that did not leave any doubt about his party´s position towards the conflict in Georgia. I am quite sure that A. Merkel would never act the way that G. Schroeder did, and that she is absolutely realistic about Russia and Russian ways. She has experienced / lived under communism, the East-German variation. G. Schroeder is an opportunist of the worst ilk of that race, and an upstart at the same time, a social climber without real ties to anybody.

sonikrave ütles ...

Thanks for your comments and your American point of view.

It is exactly what I've expected.

No need to loose a word about the mixed signals, that has been sent out from Connie Rice (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/13/washington/13diplo.html?_r=2&scp=1&sq=rice%20georgia%20&st=cse&oref=slogin&oref=slogin), not necessary to mention who delivered the weapons to arm Georgia, going to war, for a quick military solution of this conflict in South Ossetia.

But then there is Mrs. Merkel, that decided woth Sarkozy based on the terms for NATO membership to let Georgia in, with an open time shedule.

For example the term, that before being granted NATO membership all and every dispute regarding territorial borders must be solved by peaceful means.

This has been obviously not the case.

For you information: I am not on Russian side, but let's keep the facts together, before someone in person emotionally to blame for.

Best regards,

Knut