August 12, 2008

English Summary

The June issue of Diplomaatia focuses on the events of the Singing Revolution, which took place 20 years ago. In addition, this issue assesses the current situation of oppressed nations and attempts to broadly summarise the progress democracy has made during the last 20 years.

The June issue of Diplomaatia focuses on the events of the Singing Revolution, which took place 20 years ago. In addition, this issue assesses the current situation of oppressed nations and attempts to broadly summarise the progress democracy has made during the last 20 years.

English Summary

The June issue of Diplomaatia focuses on the events of the Singing Revolution, which took place 20 years ago. In addition, this issue assesses the current situation of oppressed nations and attempts to broadly summarise the progress democracy has made during the last 20 years.
In an interview given to Diplomaatia, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves recalls the times of the Singing Revolution and the reactions of the western world. President Ilves says that when he got hold of the issue of Sirp describing the Plenum of Artistic Associations – it was almost two weeks after the plenum itself had occurred –, he suddenly realised that he would be coming back to Estonia. “When I was reading the paper, it became clear that Estonia would be free or, alternatively, that everything would go horribly wrong. And I knew that I would be going back to Estonia; I did not know when, but I knew that it would happen.”
Member of the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu) and historian Mart Nutt examines the process of formation of the political climate of the world around Estonia 20 years ago, when the Singing Revolution was unfolding in Estonia. He also describes the hopes of the then key players in international politics with respect to the future. Nutt asserts that in the 1980s, the prevailing view was that no new states will emerge, that old ones will not disappear and that state borders will not change. “The older generation had seen the horrors of World War II, so they knew that it takes a war to change state borders. Nevertheless, from 1990 to 2008, four states disappeared from the map of Europe and 24 new states were established.”
Member of the Riigikogu Andres Herkel asks in his article whether human rights are universal or is it possible that they were invented by the West in order to subject the rest of the world under its control. Even though human rights policies might occasionally be too mild and hypocritical or based on double standards, Herkel asserts that we should not be too sceptical, because human rights requirements were introduced only half a century ago. That is why the internationalisation of human rights has not changed the world as significantly as some might have hoped.
Tiit Pruuli, an inveterate traveller and one of the owners of the Go Group concern, writes about Tibet. “We can never know for sure whether most Tibetans want an independent state, greater autonomy within China or something else,” asserts Pruuli. “We can only guess what they want, the more so that it is not for us to decide. However, we should offer our assistance, so that Tibetans could make this choice by themselves, without undue pressure from Beijing politicians or the Chinese masses crowding the streets of Lhasa.”
Edward Lucas, East European correspondent of The Economist, writes about the remaining captive nations in the Russian Federation. Somewhat surprisingly, he comes to the conclusion that the biggest captive nation is the Russians themselves: “The Soviet Union may have inherited a large dose of Czarist imperialism, and pursued it with a level of brutality that makes even the harshest Czar seem like a Swedish social democrat. But some of the most brutal Communists were non-Russians, and the greatest losses of all under Soviet Communism, at least in numerical terms, were in Russia. From a Russian point of view, it can be argued that the motherland was the greatest captive nation of all, its destiny hijacked by murderous ideologues.”
As regards the smaller nations currently living in the Russian territory, “what really stokes ethnic-based identity politics is the feeling of unfairness. Countries are quite happy to share, pool or even give up sovereignty if it is by consent, and in a political structure where their people will be treated fairly.”
Lucas concludes that “the only real hope is that Russian ethnonationalism is so coupled with incompetence that it disillusions Russians themselves with the imperial project. When Russians too demand freedom and a real, non-imperial, non-authoritarian identity that will necessarily have to accommodate of the geographical, ethnic and cultural differences within the country.”
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Sven Mikser tries to answer the question whether the EU can actually have a common foreign policy. He is not very optimistic: “If problems arise, with respect to which western countries have radically different positions and cannot use empty words of compromise, decisions that would change the status quo seem to be almost unattainable,” claims Mikser. Despite that, Mikser affirms that the value-based organisations of the West offer the best security guarantees Estonia can get. “In any case, Estonia’s special interests will have to be protected in an imperfect and controversial Europe – that is the only Europe we have got,” concludes Mikser.
Editor of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs Fyodor Lukyanov reviews the relations of Russia and the EU. He states that although officially the term ‘strategic partnership’ still applies to their relationship, in practice Moscow and Brussels do not even bother any more to hide their dissatisfaction with each other.
“The illusion that Russia is moving towards Europe began to shatter already under Boris Yeltsin’s rule. During Vladimir Putin’s time in office, it became clear that Russia is actually moving in the opposite direction than today’s Europe,” asserts Lukyanov.
Diplomaatia is also pleased to present Robert Kagan’s essay ‘The End of the End of History’ originally published in The New Republic.
Riina Kaljurand, a researcher at the International Centre for Defence Studies, reviews Robert Kagan’s book ‘The Return of History and the End of Dreams’. Kaljurand asks the question what should a normal world look like and suggests that according to Kagan, a ‘normal world’ is a world where great states are fighting for global power, which they have been doing for centuries. “The events of 1989 gave us hope that such a world order was a thing of the past. Alas, it is stronger than ever before,” affirms Kaljurand.
Opinion page editor of the newspaper Postimees Erkki Bahovski reviews Bernard Wasserstein’s recent book ‘Barbarism and Civilization. A History of Europe in Our Time’. According to Bahovski, Wasserstein’s book, similarly to several other contemporary academic history books, ties the history of Europe in the 20th century more closely together with the developments in Eastern Europe. Bahovski states that there is a reason for this: most important battles of World War II were fought on the eastern front; researchers from the West can now access East European archives; and, after all, several things can be more easily explained by referring to the events that occurred in Eastern Europe.

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