BAITING THE RUSSIAN BEAR

  • 2007-05-02
  • Peter Ferry
Recent events around removal of the Red Army war memorial are shocking to any who have visited Tallinn on business or as a tourist. Regular visitors find Tallinn a great city to do business in, and know of no better time and place than the Estonian Summer.

We therefore hope that the controversy soon blows over, and that the Russian government's initially sinister reactions can be resolved diplomatically. It's important for Estonians, ethnic or otherwise, to assert the identity of the republic. But PM Andrus Ansip should stop short of baiting the Russian Bear.
As a resident of another small country (Scotland) I know about how the weight of history can cause a difficult relationship with a more powerful neighbor (England). Scots too have an opportunity to assert national identity in this week's elections in the devolved Scottish Parliament, at which pollsters predict success for the Scottish Nationalists in the face of established UK political parties.

National spirit and self-belief drive a country forward. The independent and entrepreneurial spirit of Estonians is in part responsible for the rapid economic success of the country. Turning away from a powerful neighbor and patron may come at a short term cost to the economy. However, a nation's long term prosperity is more influenced by the confidence, drive and self-dependence of citizens than by the economic sanctions of a trading partner, such as Russia's threatened embargo of Estonian food products.

Thus the Estonian government should stand firm in the face of Russia's threats and the blockade of Estonia's Moscow embassy. Likewise Scots should consider asserting their identity and moving confidently forward as a nation in Thursday's elections.
 

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