Baltic unity starts at grass-roots level - analyst

  • 2000-06-29
TALLINN (BNS) - Estonia's relations with the neighboring Latvia and Lithuania can develop, and its uppity attitude toward them change, only through the development of ordinary contacts, analyst Mait Talts from the Institute of European Studies maintains.

Estonian and Latvian energy executives needed only to come out with a pretty unusual plan to unify the two countries' energy systems for the media here to "rediscover" the Latvian country and people, the analyst says in an article in the daily Postimees.

"That Latvia did well in the Eurovision song contest helped to raise the awareness of the neighboring nation also among Estonians who usually don't read newspapers," saidTalts.

Talts cited an inquiry in the Internet portal Delfi where 61 percent of the respondents said the Latvian band Brainstorm, that placed third in the contest, had improved their personal attitude toward Latvians.

According to the analyst, it's Latvians who have become the staunchest supporters of Baltic cooperation as Estonians have through the years sought to identify themselves as a Nordic country, and Lithuania has from time to time endeavored to forge closer ties with Central European states.

"Because of this, Latvia has not had such a natural cross-border cooperation partner as Estonia has in Finland or Lithuania, in Poland," Talts says.

Estonians' somewhat groundless feeling of superiority has certainly been one of the obstacles to Baltic cooperation, but equally has Latvians' and Lithuanians' taking offense too easily now and then braked the cooperation, the analyst finds.

"Latvians have by now got over it, but in Lithuania the opinion is still alive in places that the European Commission's 1997 decision to invite Estonia to the European Union accession talks was largely based on outdated statistical material and inaccurate economic development evaluation methods," Talts notes.