September 10, 2008

English summary

In this issue of Diplomaatia, Siim Kallas, the European Commissioner from Estonia, writes about the European Union and historical memory. In his opinion, it is the historical memory of European nations that, to a great extent, holds the EU together and has inspired many EU policies in various areas. Kallas argues that a weakening of memory – and the Estonian Commissioner detects early signs of this – does not bode well for the EU.

In this issue of Diplomaatia, Siim Kallas, the European Commissioner from Estonia, writes about the European Union and historical memory. In his opinion, it is the historical memory of European nations that, to a great extent, holds the EU together and has inspired many EU policies in various areas. Kallas argues that a weakening of memory – and the Estonian Commissioner detects early signs of this – does not bode well for the EU.

English summary

In this issue of Diplomaatia, Siim Kallas, the European Commissioner from Estonia, writes about the European Union and historical memory. In his opinion, it is the historical memory of European nations that, to a great extent, holds the EU together and has inspired many EU policies in various areas. Kallas argues that a weakening of memory – and the Estonian Commissioner detects early signs of this – does not bode well for the EU.
Kallas brings the Stability and Growth Pact as an example: “From today’s discussions about the Stability Pact one gets the impression that the Pact is a creation of hostile monetarists. But this is not so. (—) The Pact has a fundamental social and political essence. Its aim is to ensure that the monetary crises and the legendary inflation that occurred in Germany in the 1920s and led to social turbulence, extremists’ grab of power and to a big European war, will never be repeated.” But awareness of this historical background seems to be fading: “Paradoxically, it’s precisely Germany that has started to talk about the desirability of watering down the monetary policies surrounding the Euro. (—) But all specialists know that if we were to follow the more radical suggestions of German leaders, it would inevitably lead to greater inflation. And then what would happen?”
Kallas also concludes that historical memory teaches the European countries to be co-operative, because isolationism is likely to lead to disaster. Estonia’s aspiration to join both the EU and NATO was largely driven by the idée fixe to avoid reoccurrence of the events of 1939-40: “Today, virtually no-one in Estonia thinks that we could also be successful without the EU and NATO. But tomorrow?” Kallas asks.
Tõnu Õnnepalu, Margus Laidre and Vello Salo pay tribute to the late Pope John Paul II. Õnnepalu considers John Paul II to have been probably the greatest statesman of the end of the 20th century, and finds these circumstances somewhat paradoxical: “Isn’t it unbelievable that in this world and era, when democracy has become a magic word in the rhetoric even of dictators, an absolute monarch, elected by not by the people, but by a hundred aging cardinals, rises to become the greatest superstar of world politics? (—) Can our contemporary democracies manage to produce only political dwarves, so that in order to get a real statesman, the alleged interference of the Holy Spirit is necessary?”
A few political initiatives are spelled out in this month’s edition of Diplomaatia: Indrek Tarand and Marek Strandberg argue that Estonia should support the initiatives by US senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman, that is, their Climate Stewardship Act and the accompanying initiative to expel Russia from the G8 group; and Jaak Jõerüüt discusses the requirements of making Estonia a member of the UN Security Council.
Paul Goble recalls George Frost Kennan’s connections with Estonia. He writes that Kennan retained sympathy for and a lively interest in the Baltic states ever since his stint here in the 1920-30s. “Later, in his telephone calls to the State Department, which I as the Desk Officer for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1990-91 had the honour to take, Kennan reaffirmed the view that the Baltic peoples could gain their ends only by understanding the nature of the forces arrayed against them. In his quiet voice, he would say ‘This is George Kennan, and I want to tell you how I see the Baltic situation now and what we and they should do.’”
Marko Mihkelson discusses whether relations between Russia and the West are back at the stage they were in during the late 1940s, which prompts us to ask ourselves whether the West need a new George Kennan?
We definitely need to pursue more persistently the countermeasures that could contain Russia’s new expansionism, is the answer given by the CSIS scholar Janusz Bugajski in his interview with Diplomaatia. Bugajski’s new book, “Cold peace,” is reviewed in this edition by Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
Finally, in another interview, Anne Applebaum explains why Russia can never become a democracy without condemning its totalitarian past.

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