September 2, 2008

English summary

This issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to questions related to security and the upcoming NATO Summit. The Estonian Ambassador to NATO, Harri Tiido gives an overview of current security questions and offers some suggestions on how to behave in a contemporary world that paradoxically can be seen as being more dangerous than that of the cold war.

This issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to questions related to security and the upcoming NATO Summit. The Estonian Ambassador to NATO, Harri Tiido gives an overview of current security questions and offers some suggestions on how to behave in a contemporary world that paradoxically can be seen as being more dangerous than that of the cold war.

English summary

This issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to questions related to security and the upcoming NATO Summit.
The Estonian Ambassador to NATO, Harri Tiido gives an overview of current security questions and offers some suggestions on how to behave in a contemporary world that paradoxically can be seen as being more dangerous than that of the cold war.
“For a small state, especially for a small state situated like Estonia on Russia’s border, it is important to get as many international security guarantees as possible: be it member-ship in NATO, the European Union, OSCE or the UN,” Tiido states. He puts a special emphasis on the co-operation between NATO and the EU, wishing that this would develop at a brisker pace than is currently the case. Also, the dimension of domestic security is ever weightier; Tiido predicts that after the Riga Summit it will assume a place in NATO’s agenda.
But finally, Tiido advises that a necessary remedy against security risks and people’s fears is a consciousness of the dangers, not least because of the fact that blind fear offers a good ground for manipulation by outsiders. “Many people fear darkness, because they do not know what it hides. Therefore, it is probably wiser both at the individual and societal level to be aware of the risks, and to try to deal with them in a calm and balanced manner.”
Two articles, written by Maria Mälksoo and Lauri Lepik respectively, deal with the problem of NATO’s transformation, paying special attention to the alliance’s attempts to find a balance between its old and new duties – those of collective defence and crisis management. Both authors conclude that the going is rough, but some progress is evident.
Taimar Peterkop, a lawyer working for the Estonian Ministry of Defence argues that the legal requirements that constrain the domestic use of the Defence Forces are too strict in Estonia: “The Estonian Defence Forces can help in securing the NATO summit in Riga. But in order do a similar job in Estonia, they would need the declaration of a state of emergency.”
The roots of that arrangement lay in the early years of the restored Republic, when fears of the army’s involvement in domestic political struggles were acute and even found some foundation in the so called crises of Pullapää. But Peterkop argues that the Estonian democracy now has grown strong roots and it is time to forget the old fears and change the regulations. “Life itself requires that those changes be made, because a small state has to find the most effective way of using its limited resources.”
Merle Maigre, whose current job is with the NATO office in Ukraine, analyses the civil-military relations in Estonia. She states that quite a few problems can be found under the spotless facade of Estonia’s defence policy system. “The main sources of tensions [between the military and civilians] are the historical interpretation of the first period of independence, backward personnel policies, the disappearance of the carrot offered by NATO, the peculiarities of the Constitution and the Parliament’s weak role in defence related questions,” Maigre argues.
The relationship between the military and politicians is also discussed by Anthony Lawrence, a senior researcher with the International Centre for Defence Studies (ICDS) in Tallinn. He argues that on the one hand, “a government which failed to consider the advice of its military experts when formulating security and defence policy would be a foolish government indeed.” But, “provided their views have been given a fair hearing, there is no reason for members of the armed forces to then be anything other than loyal in public to the policy or decision they have helped to make.”
Former Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar analyses the situation in Georgia. He argues that Estonia needs to help this country on its chosen path to the West, which has result in serious disputes with its huge neighbour. “One can endlessly debate whether Georgia’s behaviour in its relations with Russia has always been practical, but in the current moment such discussions take us no further. Right now it is important to make it clear that Russia’s reaction to Georgia’s drive to join NATO has been inadequate and threatening with war is useless,” states Laar.
Kaarel Kaas, a junior researcher with the ICDS argues that the West needs a new George Frost Kennan: according to Kaas, it is necessary to define a new paradigm of the West’s relations with Russia, one that is based on a profound understanding of Russia’s thinking and behaviour. According to Kaas, the notion that has been prevalent since the end of the Cold War – namely, that Russia is moving towards democracy, albeit with a backlashes, is no longer valid. “Russia is not just having a bad time in its road to democracy, instead it is moving away from this road altogether,” writes Kaas.
Finally, David K. Galbreath of Aberdeen University tries to find out how Latvia has managed to “make friends and influence people” so successfully that it was chosen to host the NATO summit later this month. He concludes that Latvia’s most effective “secret weapon” has been able political leaders – especially the President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, but also former and the current Foreign Ministers Sandra Kalniete and Artis Pabriks.
Pauls Raudseps, an editorial columnist with Latvia’s Diena daily offers a different view, arguing that Latvia does not know what aims it should set itself in the world of international politics; instead the political leadership is content with ad hoc policies, as long and the economy keeps growing.
Latvia needs “clear principles that can serve as guides in a complex and changing world and which serve the long-term interests of Latvia,” argues Raudseps. “Tactical, short-term approaches carry the risk not only of resulting in contradictory and self-defeating policies, but also of leaving the country vulnerable to manipulation by other players. The politics of instant gratification, whether they are applied to domestic or foreign policy, can lead to a painful morning after.”

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