• 2015-02-05
  • Dr Kaarel Niibo


I was devastated when I noticed you did not publish my last opinion piece on the Victory Day parades in Moscow. I feel my right to free speech has been betrayed by your ghastly newspaper.
Still, I wish to be of great assistance to the Latvian people. In the spirit of magnanimity, I enclose the following opinion piece.

Dr Kaarel Niibo


Though an Estonian such as myself should really be much more concerned with the goings on of our true kindred spirits the Finns rather than with what is going on down in the Lower Baltic States, I feel I really must do my Estonian civic duty and be charitable to our continuously struggling Baltic neighbours, the Latvians and the Lithuanians, once in a while. And the best form of charity I can provide, I believe — as a notable economist and political scientist here in Parnu — is my advice.

My advice this week is for Latvia, and it’s pretty simple, honest advice: Latvia should sell its eastern, lake-filled region of Latgale to the Russians, probably by way of auction.
I came to this conclusion after a few days ruminating about whether Greece should be expelled from the eurozone. I realised, of course, that expelling Greece from the eurozone would cause financial chaos. Greece should certainly not be expelled from the eurozone; instead, Greece should be sold to the Rouble-Zone. The proceeds of the sale can be used to balance budgets across the EU, and provide some real money to pay for this mysterious 300 billion euros or so worth of investment that the newly appointed (and not elected) President of the European Commission Jean Claude Junker plans to make. Russia seems utterly desperate for more members of its Eurasian Economic Union, and if Greek policy makers take the necessary economic measures, they should easily manage to meet the strict corruption requirements.

Greece would thrive, exchanging their euros for roubles would make Athenian taxi drivers into oligarchs, and Greek exports of Feta cheese, no longer hampered by the sanctions, would flood the Russian domestic market, putting Siberian Mozerrella and St Petersburg Parmesan out of business, not only causing a far more damaging impact on the Russian economy than the sanctions, but also spreading obesity and halitosis from Novgorod to Vladivostok, overburdening Russia’s crumbling health service...

My musings on Greece brought me to the very fundamentals of economics: buying and selling. Buying ... and selling! It struck me like the slap of a live herring: if we take America’s purchase of the Russian territory of Alaska back in the 19th century as a legal precedent, and remind the Russians of how much of their beloved oil they lost when they sold Alaska to America, then we can spook the Russians by saying that a consortium of “lake-loving” Texans - who were themselves originally bought by the Americans - are interested in buying the region of Latgale. The Latvian Saeima can easily make this possible by another cheeky tinker of Latvia’s dodgy residency permit laws. Then the Russians will be so scared, they will pay an exorbitant amount for it, and Latvia can use the money to pay for that gratuitous gazebo in Milan that they wanted for some unknown reason.

Latvians will lose the lakes and most of their non-citizens, which would solve their language politics issues overnight, and it would also open Latvian eyes to the simple reality that Estonia has far more beautiful and clean lakes than Latvia anyway.

But if the nostalgics in the Saeima prevail, and for some reason they still pine for flourishing cities like Daugavpils that they have done so much to develop over the last 20 years, then there is an alternative use for the proceeds of the Latgale sale, one that could be far more effective than spending money on some silly gazebo in Milan. Latvia, if it so wished, could do what Napoleon did when he sold the French province of Louisiana to the Americans: he used the proceeds to build up a war chest, gathered a vast army and marched on Moscow.

Sure, the pedants will say that Napoleon did not ultimately succeed. But Riga is closer to Moscow than Paris was. So Latvia could easily use the proceeds of the Latgale sale train an army of Large Green Men, and to simply take back Latgale and Moscow. Of course, as Napoleon forgot, it would be vital to establish a Grand Alliance with the Mongols — who always knew how to defeat the Russians.

So as Latvia moves well into its second month of the EU Council presidency, it should use its position to put Latgale up for auction between the Texans and the Russians, and send its diplomatic envoys across the sands of the Gobi desert — TO ULAAN BATUUR!

The writer is a freelance economist and political scientist living in Parnu. His retweets are not endorsements.


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