August 22, 2008

English summary

This issue of Diplomaatia looks back on the year 2005. Dag Hartelius, the ambassador of Sweden in Estonia calls it “the year when nature set the global agenda.” He recalls that “we entered 2005 discovering the enormous human tragedy following the tsunami in Southeast Asia. (—) Only one week into the New Year even our own part of Europe was hit by one of the strongest and most devastating storms in modern history. Estonia, Latvia and Sweden were significantly affected by major flooding, electricity cuts and fallen trees. (—) The terrible disaster in New Orleans and other coastal areas in Louisiana and Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in late August sent shock waves through America and gave the concept of Homeland security a new dimension.” In addition, an earthquake shook Pakistan and Kashmir and the bird flu threatens to become a global pandemic.

This issue of Diplomaatia looks back on the year 2005. Dag Hartelius, the ambassador of Sweden in Estonia calls it “the year when nature set the global agenda.” He recalls that “we entered 2005 discovering the enormous human tragedy following the tsunami in Southeast Asia. (—) Only one week into the New Year even our own part of Europe was hit by one of the strongest and most devastating storms in modern history. Estonia, Latvia and Sweden were significantly affected by major flooding, electricity cuts and fallen trees. (—) The terrible disaster in New Orleans and other coastal areas in Louisiana and Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in late August sent shock waves through America and gave the concept of Homeland security a new dimension.” In addition, an earthquake shook Pakistan and Kashmir and the bird flu threatens to become a global pandemic.

English summary

This issue of Diplomaatia looks back on the year 2005. Dag Hartelius, the ambassador of Sweden in Estonia calls it “the year when nature set the global agenda.” He recalls that “we entered 2005 discovering the enormous human tragedy following the tsunami in Southeast Asia. (—) Only one week into the New Year even our own part of Europe was hit by one of the strongest and most devastating storms in modern history. Estonia, Latvia and Sweden were significantly affected by major flooding, electricity cuts and fallen trees. (—) The terrible disaster in New Orleans and other coastal areas in Louisiana and Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in late August sent shock waves through America and gave the concept of Homeland security a new dimension.” In addition, an earthquake shook Pakistan and Kashmir and the bird flu threatens to become a global pandemic.
“The size in combination with the frequency of the natural disasters and diseases which have occurred around the globe in 2005 will no doubt affect the security thinking and planning of European and American governments for years to come,” writes Hartelius. “Thus natural disasters have become ‘more political’ in the sense that they will lead to organizational and policy changes.”
In addition to the natural catastrophes there are many other factors – such as high energy prices, the need to combat terrorism, sluggish economies in much of continental Europe – that all affect people’s daily life and threaten the value-based openness of Europe. But Hartelius stresses that openness is the only viable way forward for the EU: “Protectionism and closed doors to the outside world would eventually strike back at us very hard. And this is not only a question of tactics. It is also a question of values, and fortunately it seems that basing ourselves clearly on our common European values will also remain the best tactic,” he concludes.
The editor of Diplomaatia, Kadri Liik, writes about the year 2005 in Estonia’s relations with Russia. She identifies two tendencies in Moscow that, although apparent already earlier, have crystallized this year to become the dominant factors in Russia’s relations with Estonia and the other Baltic states. The first of those tendencies centers on Russia’s understanding of history and its emerging new identity based on that understanding. Liik quotes Anne Applebaum, author of “Gulag,” illustrate that Putin’s Russia is actively restoring the Soviet interpretation of history – a process that most probably stemmed from Putin himself. After the extensive public discussion about history before the May 9 celebrations in Moscow and the small Baltic victory in the person of the Latvian president in making a Baltic view of history more understandable in the West, Moscow has started to regard the Baltic states with a certain existential anger. This is because the Baltic states have attacked its very identity, one that is only re-emerging. Furthermore, this emergent identity is not based on facts, circumstances that render it all the more fragile.
Secondly, Liik argues that Russia has finally defined for itself a policy towards the Baltic states. Up to now, Russia was unclear on what it actually wanted from the Baltic states, a state of fogginess that resulted in incoherent and ad hoc policy towards them. By now, however, Russia has decided that it is preferable simply to portray the Baltic states as problematic countries and to keep this non-event permanently on the agenda of EU-Russia relations. “Russia just does not want to talk with the Baltic states, Russia does not look for solutions, Russia’s ambition is to define the Baltic states as a problem,” Liik writes.
Edward Lucas, the Eastern Europe correspondent for the Economist, continues along the same lines, heavily critizising the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union (CFSP). ” In the one place where the European CSFP might actually mean something – relations with the EU’s eastern neighbourhood – it has proved completely useless. Indeed worse than useless,” he writes. “On Belarus, for example, the EU has had a dismal year. (—) It was unable even to agree on wording saying that it looked forward to a “democratic, prosperous and independent Belarus.” That word “independent” was too much for many member states to follow. A Lithuanian diplomat, trying vainly to explain that Belarus might not exist in a year’s time if the Union Treaty with Russia goes ahead, was brushed aside.”
Lucas argues that exactly the Russia-Belarus Union, should it really become a single state, will present the CFSP with a real test: “Will the West recognise the new state? I don’t doubt for a moment that most EU countries will do so, and that Poland and Lithuania at least (and I hope also Estonia and Latvia) will refuse to do so, along with the United States. And what will happen then?”
Riina Kionka, of the EU Council Secretariat, turns to American musical theater for inspiration on transatlantic affairs. In George and Ira Gerschwin’s classic song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” from the 1937 film “Shall We Dance,” the characters played by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers opt out of wedding plans because they can’t even agree on how to pronounce certain everyday words. “You like potato and I like potato, you like tomato and I like tomato…,” they warble.
In the same way, posits Kionka, the EU and the US often misunderstand the words and phrases they use when speaking of democratisation. Even though both understand the lexical meanings of words the same way, the US persists in using “democratisation” and “freedom” whereas the EU prefers the terms “rule of law” and “human rights.”
While these differences appear to be purely semantic, Kionka stresses that they take on a political dimension because of the motives that each ascribes to the other, as a declaration on democracy promotion made at last June’s EU-US summit demonstrates. The recently released German Marshall Fund “transatlantic trends” opinion poll bolsters this argument. Although Europeans were far more likely (74%) to support democratization by the EU than Americans were of US democratization efforts (51%), the real differences are among the Americans themselves. Like Europeans, Republicans were far more likely (76%) to support democratization than were Democrats (43%). These results suggest that it is Americans, and not necessarily Europeans, as is often claimed, who see the promotion of democracy through a kind filter formed by President Bush and the Iraq war.
Democracy promotion is a promising field for continued EU-US cooperation, even though recent events suggest that the US may have lost its way for a moment. Kionka argues that for this very reason, the EU has a duty to stand for what is good and right: democracy is worth the effort of finding a common language.
In addition, Kaarel Kaas discusses the influence of the Vietnam experience on the US stance in Iraq and the impact of both Vietnam and Iraq on the wider policy of democratisation that President Bush has promised to pursue.
Jüri Adams explains why lawyers from different European countries understand the word “constitution” in different ways, and Toomas Hiio reviews Lauri Malksoo’s book Illegal Annexation and State Continuity: The Case of the Incorporation of the Baltic States by the USSR : A Study of the Tension between Normativity and Power in International Law.

Filed under: Paper issueTagged with:

No comment yet, add your voice below!


Add a Comment