esmaspäev, detsember 18, 2006

The Economist Slams Amnesty International

And by The Economist, I mean Edward Lucas ... In his [very free] blog, Lucas is the first to look at the report and use the dreaded 'd' word, no ... not 'dipshit' - deportation. It's a gutsy move to remind other Europeans of what they once did when circumstances placed them in similar situations:

Since regaining independence in 1991 Estonia has become the reform star of the post-communist world. Its booming economy, law-based state and robust democracy are all the more impressive given their starting point: a country struggling with the huge forced migration of the Soviet era. The collapse of the evil empire left Estonia with hundreds of thousands of resentful, stranded ex-colonists, citizens of a country that no longer existed.

Some countries might have
deported them. That was the remedy adopted in much of eastern Europe after the second world war. Germans and Hungarians—regardless of their citizenship or politics—were sent “home” in conditions of great brutality.

Instead, Estonia, like Latvia next door, decided to give these uninvited guests a free choice. They could go back to Russia. They could stay but adopt Russian citizenship. They could take local citizenship (assuming they were prepared to learn the language). Or they could stay on as non-citizens, able to work but not to vote.

I am very pleased to hear Edward Lucas, and by Mr. Lucas I also mean The Economist, smack down the Amnesty Report. I don't think the report is as bad it seems from the title, but I do get a little sick of the sensitivity with which some people approach the topic - yearning not to offend. It's nice to see someone call a spade a spade for a change. I personally know a German that was sent "home" from Poland to West Germany after World War II, so the comparison is not lost on me.

These are real things. We live in a real world of living history. Congrats to Edward Lucas for giving us a quick, in-your-face history lesson in response to a report from an NGO that really should be working on something more important. Is there room for improvement in Estonia? Always. Is it worth Amnesty's time while it works on reports about Sudan and Afghanistan? I am not so sure about that.

14 kommentaari:

Anonüümne ütles ...

I can only hope that the discourse prompted by your original post on the Amnesty International report will continue. It was especially informative in that Estonian Russians (or however they choose to be categorized) let their views be known. I hope that they understand that their views (as yours) carry extra weight in that they are among the few that have been expressed so articulately from both sides of the debate in English. I'm looking forward to listening further to those who can address the issue in the first person. I wish I spoke (and read and wrote) better Estonian and Russian so I could see what else has been posted on this issue; thank you Giustino for providing a forum for the ?(800 mil or so; I'm confident you can come up with a stat on this) English speakers who would otherwise be less informed.

Giustino ütles ...

We got into a real debate over at Crooked Timber on this and I began to realize how little people know, even in Europe.

My hope is that they grasp how complicated an issue this is and that it is not something that can be solved with one act of the Rigikogu.

Estonia's Slavs are a minority, and, like most minorities, they are at a disadvantage in their adopted country. You can spend more state money to try and give them a greater advantage - as Amnesty correctly points out - but in the end, Estonia is mostly made up of Estonians, and if you grow up speaking Russian, then you are at a disadvantage in the marketplace.

It sucks, but hey - Russia is a huge country and it's right next door. If Estonia isn't worth it there are always safety valves.

I think it's a a little *too* convenient to blame the government of Estonia for not better integrating its Slavic populace. I mean the citizenship policy has worked so far, I think the language policy has worked (I can get served in Estonian everywhere) so far.

I think the country has its own questions about where the policy is going. But I believe that those questions will eventually be answered in parliament. That's the way democracy works.

Anonüümne ütles ...

1.Putin proposed money to the Russians to return them home. Without any reults. Only 15 Russians went back to homeland - for study!! Why they will not go back, if discriminated here?
2.The situation in Russia itself at present remembers Nazy Germany in 30-ties. Economical sanctions against Georgia, Ukraine. Deportation Georgians from Russia. Killing & violence of foreign students etc. Assinations of the journalists. (Litvinenkos & Politkovskayas murders will be never known). Growing actions of chauvinist elements - Nashy. (Have You received the pictures of the Munic agreement from 1938?)
3.Russias goal is its supremacy in Europe (at first) and Europe is caught in a trap, instead cheese used gas and oil.
4.The European (world) statesmen are just as naiv, as Eden & Daladier at 1938.
5.Your political blogs are very welcome, as almost singles among blogs usually full of twaddle

Anonüümne ütles ...

Advise You read '' in english. Although censored, even a little light for the life in Russia

Anonüümne ütles ...

The article sounds like someone, perhaps Laar, has been calling someone from the Economist's editorial staff up to collect a personal favor. To blame all and any criticism towards the Estonian language policies as Kremlin propaganda is a knee-jerk reaction so typical that it's almost second nature, but to claim that AI is blind towards Russia's problems is particularly unfair, if not completely ridiculous. The fact of the matter is that Estonia and Latvia *do* have problems with the rights of Russian-speaking minorities, as reported by not only Russia or AI, but also the UN and OSCE among others. What the Estonian right-wing politicians are trying to do is to *justify* the violations of today with unfairness of history. Objectively taken, it isn't a viable course of action, as every international pariah could employ a similar sob story. It's that a lot of the media and public can't see a viable alternative, because all and any criticism is portrayed as if the Estonians would have to give up their culture and make Russian the second (or the only) official language and other spooky stories, even if the criticism demands nothing of the sort. It's that the constant struggle with Russia, be it justified or not, and the nationalism in response to that, is the only way how Laar and other conservatives could regain any support lost in their governing terms, policies of which were not that popular at all.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Remember when I said that every argument ends with a conclusion that Estonians are just a small angry nation with no culture. I was wrong - this is not always the case. It could also end with "Laar"... and yes, even with "USA" (thinking back to our local red fascist Klenksi's recent comments)

plasma-jack ütles ...

Well, it will not do us Estonians any good if we dismiss all the criticism only because the critics do not agree with us. I seriously think that we should explore better ways to integrate minorities.

But of course, official Russian rhetorics is making this a harder challenge to people who shape of our domestic policy.

Giustino ütles ...

What the Estonian right-wing politicians are trying to do is to *justify* the violations of today with unfairness of history. Objectively taken, it isn't a viable course of action, as every international pariah could employ a similar sob story.

I don't know. The Soviet Union dumped several hundred thousand Soviet workers in Estonia for short-term economic projects and left them there in rotting communal dwellings.

Then tiny Estonia with its unseasoned civil service is just supposed to pick up the pieces and put society together again in 15 years?

How realistic is that? How realistic is it that the descendants of Soviet population transfer would just magically integrate into Estonian society - which was itself repressed for 50 years and is itself reforming - just a wave of the Estonian government's magic hand?

I think it is VERY unrealistic to expect that.

That being said, Amnesty endorsed most of Estonia's language policies. They endorsed school reform, and they did not argue for dismantling its unilingual federal policy.

So, in my opinion, that's good for Estonia.

Another thing I'd like to point out is that most of Estonia's Slavs are a minority of today. They've been there for mostly around 50 years, some came only 20 years ago. In 1989 They were close to 40 percent of the population. Today, they are less than 30 percent -with Russians only 25.7, down from 30.3 in '89.

Where is this going? If their population has decreased so much in 15 years, will it continue to decrease? Is it wise to adjust the state to deal with a situation that could be temporary?

This is a situation in flux. In 2016, Estonia's minorities sitation could be quite different, as different as it was ten years ago. Ten years ago you had mass statelessness. Today, you have a state that is preparing for its final drive for naturalization.

The Estonian government that was reinstated in 1991 had a host of very difficult problems to deal with.

If they can integrate their Russian speakers, then maybe the United States can solve its immigration conundrum and France can stop the Muslim urban youth from burning cars, and the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland can celebrate Christmas together.

While we're at it, maybe we can get The Smiths to reform :)

Anonüümne ütles ...

How far off is even the imagination of many (these) young wise men (except perhaps Giustino, I'll tell it frankly!) of the actual contemporary Russia.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Have you considered this:
- there is really nothing to find regarding human rights in Estonia and AI took one issue and really pressed out every juice from it to get a headline
- considering that the situation in Russia is much worse and AI-s operations in Russia are currently seriously hindered, AI tries to buy itself in to the Russian market

Frankly - russian immigrants in Estonia is the problem of Russia as they were brought in by the Soviet Union as a work-force and tool of russification.

The lack of iniciative and opposition of Russians in Estonia to study language is legendary, despite of subsidies and public programs. Looks like AI is indirectly suggesting forcible language teaching or face deportation/imprisionment.

Over half of the stateless persons do not plan to determine their citizenship or plan to apply for Russian citizenship. What is the Estonian language for?

Does Russia have any obligations in front of its citizens in Estonia or only the right to whine about everything? Btw, Russian embassy in Tallinn specifically hinders the process of applying for Russian citizenship.

Flaming about the situation of Estonian Russians is not any Estonian right-wing paranoia, but pragmatic politics of Russia. Every post-colonial state would do this.

For those who don't know - Estonia is a nationality of less than a million with a declining population The concept of less than ONE million is usually incomprehensible to >1mil nations.

Most of the findings of this and other reports (UN Racial Discrimination, European Commission) are either formal (lack of legislation), assume endless funds or assume immeasurable eagerness of Estonian Russians to learn Estonian and apply for citizenship.

Instead of suggesting (that they cannot) donating them citizenship, requiring Russian as a second national language or donating regional autonomy to Russians, the reports mostly stress the "could be more and could be better" in an undetermined manner. But that is something even a five-year-old can do.

The Fine Print: Estonia has issues, but of different nature and well below the extent amplified by the AI report.

Anonüümne ütles ...

In a decade this won't be a problem. Some will integrate, some will leave Estonia when Schengen area is extended, and then there's this self-distructive behaviour (intraveneous drug users, prostitutes, HIV). I'm talking about the younger generation, of course.

Anonüümne ütles ...

aww, now c'mon Giustino, everybody is a bit into the hippy thing, no need to be embarrased

Giustino ütles ...

aww, now c'mon Giustino, everybody is a bit into the hippy thing, no need to be embarrased

Sometimes I put up content when I am intoxicated. My apologies :)

Anonüümne ütles ...

Sometimes I put up content when I am intoxicated.

As any Estonian would tell you, there's no need to apologize for intoxication. :P