(In response to two articles in TBT #371 ­ "Kallas' talk of 'Russian card'
triggers debate" and "Mass tourism brings culture chaos" by Toby Stone)

  • 2003-08-28
Estonian Foreign Minister Siim Kallas warns of the "Russian threat" ­ Toby Stone of the "tourist threat." Somehow my experience as a Russian tourist who made two trips to Tallin this year proves that neither threat exists. In the post-Soviet decade Tallinn has become a truly European city,rediscovered as one of the most beautiful and one of the few authentically ancient cities of Europe.

In this sense Tallinn enjoys ­ or suffers ­ the same fate as any historic European city, big or small. Mr. Stone wouldn't argue, I believe, that those digital camera-wagging Japanese and beer-drinking German are omnipresent in Barcelona and London, Athens and Florence. Mr. Stone is unhappy about the fact that his neighborhood pharmacy has turned into a souvenir shop. But this is sheer business, alas. Maybe there are too many pharmacies as well, and they simply don't bring profit. Reading Kallas' letter I got the impression that he somewhat simplified a rather complicated issue. I do know that something is rotten in the state of Russian-Estonian relations ­ at least on the official level. But if I remember correctly, the number of Russians traveling to Estonia doubled in recent years. I am happy that my family was part of this number. I am sure that this new "Russian invasion" (or, not to annoy Kallas, let us call it the new "Russian rediscovery" of Estonia) can eventually implement the much-needed changes in the relations between our two countries.

Oleg Alyakrinksy


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