pühapäev, detsember 10, 2006

When Aino met ... Aino

This Sunday night at 9 pm Phil for Finland for Thought will be interviewing me about Estonia and Finland - two countries that should be best friends but tend to still have residual negative feelings towards one another.

This will be a funny interview as Phil is an American - from Baltimore, a city on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland south from New York. I have been to Baltimore on several occasions and I have visited the ghettos of "Ballmer" as well as its nice harbor where they serve crab cakes and you always feel like you are in a John Waters movie.

Having visited the murky ghettos of Baltimore, I think I have a free ticket to ridicule any provincial attitudes from the Finns about their neighbor Estonia. Too often I have heard actual fear from the Scandinavians and Finns about venturing forth into Estonia. They are afraid Estonian mobsters will attack them with accordions, tie them up with knock-off Nordic headbands, and steal their valuable Euros and Kroner.

But the sad thing is that 15 years on, they know so little. There are a lot of enlightened Finns who have spent time in Tallinn and feel safe, and most opinion polls show that they feel closer to Estonia than they do to Sweden. But rather than Phil interviewing a *real* Estonian as a spokesperson for the nation, I will be subbing as a semi neutral force - an outsider that will speak of both peoples frankly.

And, in the true American spirit, there will no doubt be plenty of filthy language and perhaps, if you are lucky, a shoot 'em up car chase at the end. One can only hope. Let me know what you think about põdrad, and I'll be sure to let those reindeer hear what you have to say.

Aitäh JA kiitos!

3 kommentaari:

stockholm slender ütles ...

That's very nice! I think though you might bit understate the Finnish familiarity with Estonia. The tourist traffic is so huge that I believe it was 25%-30% of the population who have visited Estonia (maybe even a bigger proportion) - which is something not achievable by Sweden. Yes, we have these tabloid attitudes, basically I suspect due to protected labour markets etc. We do also have our Nordic arrogance (funnily, as were in the receiving end in 1920's when the Swedish media was quite snobbish about our society).

Of course, Estonians also have then the classical aggrieved "little brother" attitude (that we Finns are only in the process of finally abandoning as regards Sweden) - so, the Estonian media delights in finding the most glaring examples of Finnish arrogance and boorishness (our vodka tourists sure do provide ample material). But I do think that this is just surface froth from both sides: the deep currents go towards more closer co-operation and affinity.

There is also the traditional cultural estophilia that is very rooted in Finland and that was kept alive even during the Cold War. I am not the biggest fan of Kekkonen but he did keep a speech in the 60's in fluent Estonian at Tartu University where he stressed the importance of Estonian culture and language and basically encouraged people to have faith in their national future. This is not a huge segment of the population but very significant one. Pro Estonia and Tuglas Society are very active in Finland and do amazing grass roots work.

Of course, we do have some frictions - no wonder, being so close and in many ways so different, but the ties between the two countries are so strong and manifold that the tabloid headlines really are a side issue. It surely is just a matter of time when we can put these silly squabbles behind us.

Anonüümne ütles ...

This problem goes beyond Finns versus Estonians, it's more like eastern europeans vs western europeans. In these last few years we have heard many phony politicians speaking of how "eastern europeans have regained their rightful place in the western community". Well, if that's true, then why are we still facing restrictions in most of the EU-15 countries? I think the EU enlargement was a bit premature, we should've waited for 15 years, obviously the westerners aren't ready to accept the easterners as equals. We are stil referred to as "post-communist", "ex-Soviet", "EU newcomers", "the -ia's". I wonder if Finland (or Sweden) was ever a "EU newcomer", they did join the EU in 1995.

Anonüümne ütles ...

I like finns. Not much to explain here, but for long time I have heard noone calling them PÕDRAD.