August 11, 2008

English summary

The February issue of Diplomaatia is dedicated to international law, its nature, developments and relevance to Estonia.

“When considering matters of security, can Estonia actually rely on international law in the same way as India and Pakistan rely on their nuclear weapons?” asks Associate Professor at the University of Tartu Lauri Mälksoo in his opening article, reminding us of President Lennart Meri’s dictum that international law is the atom bomb of small states.

The February issue of Diplomaatia is dedicated to international law, its nature, developments and relevance to Estonia.

“When considering matters of security, can Estonia actually rely on international law in the same way as India and Pakistan rely on their nuclear weapons?” asks Associate Professor at the University of Tartu Lauri Mälksoo in his opening article, reminding us of President Lennart Meri’s dictum that international law is the atom bomb of small states.

English summary

The February issue of Diplomaatia is dedicated to international law, its nature, developments and relevance to Estonia.
“When considering matters of security, can Estonia actually rely on international law in the same way as India and Pakistan rely on their nuclear weapons?” asks Associate Professor at the University of Tartu Lauri Mälksoo in his opening article, reminding us of President Lennart Meri’s dictum that international law is the atom bomb of small states.
Ambassador Sulev Kannike analyses the relationship between the national psyche of Estonians and international law. “For various historical reasons, Estonians have a rather deep sense of justice. In domestic affairs and sometimes in private life, this sense may even exhibit itself as legal fundamentalism,” claims Kannike, admitting that Estonians are less passionate about international law, with one exception – the Tartu Peace Treaty. “The attitude towards the Tartu Peace Treaty is one of the few examples of legal fundamentalism of Estonians with regard to international law. However, the object of this fundamentalism is not the legal or political content of the treaty. It is more likely that Estonians are subconsciously afraid that Kalev [who symbolises Estonia’s independence] is not back for good and all the remnants of his last visit must be therefore carefully preserved,” states Kannike.
Historian and MP Mart Nutt describes the birth of non-recognition policy, its underlying principles and application in respect of the Baltic states. “The precedent of the Baltic states shines in the sky of non-recognition like the North Star,” concludes Nutt.
Estonian Ambassador to NATO Jüri Luik calls for the establishment of an international commission for the investigation of Communist crimes in Europe. Luik is concerned that if such crimes are not examined, there will be unexplored areas in the collective psyche of ex-Communist countries.
“By now, the condemnation of the Holocaust forms an integral part of the cultural pattern of the West. However, Communist crimes have not been subjected to a similar process,” explains Luik. “We should make a start on reaching a new international consensus, which would involve actual, not merely verbal condemnation of Communist crimes, as it was done with Fascism. We need a legal foundation to build on.”
Luik claims that the above-mentioned international commission would provide such a foundation. It would have a significant role in the examination and analysis of facts, but its most important result would be symbolical: “It would send a signal to the international public that crimes, which many hoped are forgotten, are still remembered several generations later. History will remember them as they were committed: they were but crimes, nothing more.”
Diplomat Kristi Land analyses the reasons why countries conclude international treaties. “Every country tries to have a maximum number of articles profitable for it and serving its interests included in every treaty during the respective negotiations. On the other hand, everyone has to make some concessions in order to reach an agreement. Yet, countries seem to have idealistic goals, which, together with their common values, might not serve their specific and current interests, but shape their future and impose certain restrictions on the activities of the countries themselves and their citizens,” claims Land.
Martin Roger, who works at the Office of the President of the UN General Assembly, describes how the UN influences international law, its developments and applicability. Roger concentrates mostly on the role of the General Assembly, while pointing out various options Estonia could use to influence things.
Diplomat Kaupo Känd considers the crisis of Kosovo and whether its solution would set an international precedent or not. “From the point of view of international law, there is no single general principle or universal rule for solving separatist conflicts,” asserts Känd. Hence, there is a wide range of solutions, from the model of Aceh to that of Chechnya.
Lawyer Hannes Vallikivi addresses the topic of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The ECHR has been hit by a flood of complaints streaming in from new member states of the Council of Europe, who got their membership status “in advance”, so that they could be “socialised” into being decent countries. “After the Cold War, theories were proposed, according to which countries had to be socialised and trained to accept international human rights. However, these theories were not true in all their parts: you cannot socialise anybody who does not wish to be socialised. (…) Countries, who are not willing to adopt the standards of the ECHR, should be socialised by other means,” concludes Vallikivi.
Lecturer at the University of Tartu Rene Värk analyses diplomatic law and classic examples of violations of diplomatic law: the hostage crisis in Tehran in 1971-1981 and the 1984 shooting outside the Libyan Embassy in London. Värk claims that the siege of the Estonian Embassy in Moscow in spring 2007 also constituted a clear breach of diplomatic law. When compared to classic examples, the siege shares a number of common features with the Tehran crisis.
Estonian Ambassador in Moscow Marina Kaljurand explains why Estonia and Russia treat and interpret so many treaties and acts of legislation in a different way.
Historian Küllo Arjakas describes the birth and fate of the first international treaty Estonia concluded – the Tartu Peace Treaty. Professor Peeter Järvelaid presents Friedrich Fromhold Martens, an ethnic Estonian who was a leading authority on international law.
In the book review section, Arti Hilpus reflects on the memoirs of former German Ambassador to Estonia Henning von Wistinghausen and Toomas Hiio reviews Yelena Zubkova’s book “Pribaltika i Kreml”. Yelena Zubkova is a Russian historian and her book deals with the Sovietisation of the Baltic states.

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