teisipäev, veebruar 24, 2009

paraad narvas

"Why are they having the Independence Day parade in Narva?" asked a friend. "Are they just trying to get up in Russia's face?"

"No, I think it's more of a territorial thing," I said. "You know how the dog makes sure to pee on the bush on the corner of his owner's property? Well, the parade in Narva is sort of similar."

I watched the hosts on ETV ask the same question. "Why are they having it in Narva?" asked one. "Why not?" responded the other. Besides, Narva is kind of an out-of-the-way place in Estonia. Few Estonians I know ever go there and, if they do, it's to see the castle, the border, and to turn around and go home. You can understand why people ask these questions.

A lot of Estonians are also country folk. They are scared of big cities, where they assume drug dealers and prostitutes lurk on every corner. "Don't go to Tallinn!" my niece once warned. 'There are a lot of baddies there!" Having the parade in this piirilinn therefore makes Narva safe for the people watching at home. I mean, if Estonia's leaders don't mind to parade around in the snow in Narva, then it can't be half bad.

Kindralleitnant Ants Laaneots's speech was chock full of symbolism. What's interesting is that Laaneots spent a lot of time in Russia, and mu naine detected a slight accent when he spoke. President Ilves too has a slight accent, though it is getting better all the time. I think the time spent in Mulgimaa is paying off. So, if you ever think that Estonia is a stodgy, homogenous place, just remember that its president and its highest-ranking military commander have accents from all the time they spent abroad.

But back to Laaneots' speech. Some major points: 1) lots of nationalities fought in the War of Independence on the Estonian side, including Russians, Finns, British, Germans, Swedes, Latvians, Ingrians, and Danes; 2) one of them was Tallinn-born Lieutenant General Nikolai Bazõkov (who later changed his family name to Reek and was executed by the Soviets in 1942); 3) NATO has a plan to defend Estonia; 4) the NATO mission in Afghanistan is important; 5) the Estonian army today is as diverse as it was in 1918 and it's great.

Still, why Narva? As Laaneots pointed out, there have been a lot of battles here, stretching back to the Livonian War of the 16th century. But I think there is another reason. Following the war in Georgia, the Estonian foreign policy elite has had to fend off anxious warnings from lazy analysts who conclude that, after South Ossetia, Narva must be next. By holding a military parade in Narva, Estonia shows these lazy analysts that it is capable of holding an independence day parade in its eastern-most city without any problems.

That's just one hypothesis. Another is that the government increasingly likes to get out of Tallinn. They are hungry for a change of scenery. Last year's parade was held in Pärnu. This year's independence day gala will be held in Jõhvi of all places. Maybe next year, they'll have it some place really boring, like Viljandi. You never know.

28 kommentaari:

Andres ütles ...

How did the current slogan go? Estonia doesn't end in Narva, it starts there.

Aleks ütles ...

Last year's parade was in Parnu.

Still, part of me is glad Estonians have canceled their Independence War parade in Cēsis, Latvia, this summer. Just stay on your own territory and you'll be fine.

Doris ütles ...

I think it's also an integration thing. Kind of "look, the Estonian military with all those guns and they're not shooting any Russians!" for the outsiders and for the people of Ida-Virumaa it's more like "if they decide to come across the river, we'll defend you"

all in all, I think Ilves really has done a lot to bring Ida-Virumaa closer to the rest of Estonia. If you remember, his first inner-country visit was to Narva. It's important to show yourself around doing good things ;) makes the people less likely to believe all sorts of nasty rumours.

Giustino ütles ...

I think Narva isn't the most exciting place, and this parade was probably interesting for its residents.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Last year's parade was in Parnu.

And the Victory Day this summer is going to be celebrated in Jõgeva.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Who decides these things anyway? Laaneots' staff? Or president's? Both?

Giustino ütles ...

Hmm. They both came in at the same time (2006) so it is hard to tell.

martintg ütles ...

I read some where that around 50% of soldiers in the Estonian Army are of Russian background, so perhaps it was a recruiting drive too.

Oop ütles ...

Actually, these days there is no need for a recruiting drive. Lately, Estonian army announced it stopped recruiting due to financial reasons. They got their annual plans fulfilled in less than two moths already.

Lingüista ütles ...

With the crisis unfolding, the army looks like a great career move. If the Russians suffer more than the native Estonians from the crisis (any indications that this might be so?), they might become more numerous.

My suggestion is that the parade there was meant for the local people -- so that they see they're really a part of Eestimaa. "We're really here!" or something like that.

Jenna Vixsie ütles ...

narva on öige koht sest seal on eestlasi päris palju!!

mpechter ütles ...

Hey, Aleks

Check out the attached map.

http://www.hot.ee/vabadussoda/vskaart.jpg

Especially the extent of the second line in the south.

Aleks ütles ...

I'm well-aware of the map and the history. :)

I still don't get it though. Thinking along similar lines, perhaps, the Russian army could have a parade in, I dunno, Berlin (as it liberated Europe from Napoleon and incidentally Alexanderplatz named after the Russian czar who did that), or maybe, they could come here, in Riga, as it was part of the Russian territory for a couple of centuries. I don't think the Revel residents would appreciate it.

martintg ütles ...

Aleks, nothing wrong with Russia having a parade in Berlin, if they are invited. Presumably the Estonian parade in Cēsis is at the invitation of the Latvians, after all, the victory at Cēsis helped Latvian independence too.

david h jones ütles ...

any videos or pics of the parade on Estonian tv or anywhere else?

Aleks ütles ...

Presumably the Estonian parade in Cēsis is at the invitation of the Latvians, after all, the victory at Cēsis helped Latvian independence too. Therein lies my question - I don't remember Latvia officially inviting Estonia to host the parade. And if they did, would it not make sense to have a joint military parade? The thing is though Latvians in general rarely celebrate the battle for whatever reasons. Perhaps, we'd rather celebrate a midsummer night.

Andres ütles ...

I don't remember Latvia officially inviting Estonia to host the parade. And if they did, would it not make sense to have a joint military parade?

Ilves and Zatlers (that was the president right?) discussed it last year and both found it a good idea. That's where the idea started off AFAIK. Also, it was supposed to be a joint parade with ~500 Defence League (paramilitary) personnel from Estonia and about as much from Latvia's corresponding organisation.

Inner monologue ütles ...

In times of economic downturn what we need is a quick and successful war. Latvia is weak right now. So this is the best time to take back Cesis from them.

Let the young ones duke it out. Let's keep them busy. When the war is over, everybody can join the reconstruction efforts. That means growth on both sides of the borders, jobs, prosperity and brotherly love all around.

So lets get with it.

Lets kick some Latvian ass. I am sure our Russian friends would love the idea. So? Uh? Whaddayousay?

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

david,

here is a private video, on the side roll there are more:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as8lg9Vr8cM

Puu ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Kristopher ütles ...

There is already a long-running war going on -- suicide, bad driving and alcohol. Not very many young men (in the warrior classes) to spare for your cunning plan.

david h jones ütles ...

Jens-Olaf

Thanks for the links to the clips ... note to organisers of next year's day time parade - get some band music! The soldiers looked bored and cold. Rather underwhelming for the onlooking public I'd say.

The night parade looked better.

Thanks

Andres ütles ...

david h jones, the parade took place at the Peetri square. And there were two orchestras there, the Defence Forces orchestra and the Border Guard orchestra. The clips show the men and machines marching to the square, since they were lined up on regular city streets. The night time video is one of the two main rehearsals for the parade. The real thing took place at 11am in the morning.

Andres ütles ...

If you're interested, then the broadcast by ETV is available at their online archive.

ETV arhiiv

Inner monologue ütles ...

Alright, lets level with you puu for a moment. So. Here we go:

(Making a face)

OK. Make me.

Talk to my hand, puu.

You so ugly puu.

Wha-wha-wha, puu.

You don't even have a boyfriend, puu.

Nyanynanannaanaa!

Puu ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Jaanus ütles ...

What's interesting is that Laaneots spent a lot of time in Russia, and mu naine detected a slight accent when he spoke.

"slight" is an understatement. Laaneots has a pretty thick accent. It's been exactly the same for 15 years though, is this really the first time your naine has speen Laaneots speaking :-)

Kristopher ütles ...

I talked to him at an ERNA, but I had thought it was the Panso style of diction -- some sort of theatricality to go along with his intensity. But yes, indubitably an accent. Cool, though.