June 15, 2011

Summary

This issue of Diplomaatia reflects upon the themes of the Lennart Meri Conference that took place in Tallinn on May 13-15. The first three essays were published in English in Diplomaatia’s LMC special issue in May, two more expose the views of some conference guests and some other articles are connected with the main themes discussed at the conference. The conference this year was titled “Making values count”, which is also the title of the opening essay by journalist Edward Lucas. In it, he argues that Estonia, now that it finally can make its own decisions instead of just fulfilling criteria dictated by others, should not forget the democratic values that made its freedom possible.

This issue of Diplomaatia reflects upon the themes of the Lennart Meri Conference that took place in Tallinn on May 13-15. The first three essays were published in English in Diplomaatia’s LMC special issue in May, two more expose the views of some conference guests and some other articles are connected with the main themes discussed at the conference. The conference this year was titled “Making values count”, which is also the title of the opening essay by journalist Edward Lucas. In it, he argues that Estonia, now that it finally can make its own decisions instead of just fulfilling criteria dictated by others, should not forget the democratic values that made its freedom possible.

Summary

This issue of Diplomaatia reflects upon the themes of the Lennart Meri Conference that took place in Tallinn on May 13-15. The first three essays were published in English in Diplomaatia’s LMC special issue in May, two more expose the views of some conference guests and some other articles are connected with the main themes discussed at the conference. The conference this year was titled “Making values count”, which is also the title of the opening essay by journalist Edward Lucas.  In it, he argues that Estonia, now that it finally can make its own decisions instead of just fulfilling criteria dictated by others, should not forget the democratic values that made its freedom possible.
Estonian Minister of Defence Mart Laar writes about values in foreign policy, recalling World War II and the lessons it taught. Laar argues that it is easier to talk about values in good times and harder to stick to them in more troubled times, but he still believes that we should be consistent in defending our democratic values and should not fear the short term diplomatic or economic setbacks that may follow. Laar insists that in the end, those who are willing to help others will be helped themselves when help is needed.
Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev assesses the state of European democracy and the recent rise of populism, arguing that democracy in Europe is challenged by its internal contradictions rather than by external threats. Krastev identifies a “pro status quo-radicalism” in the current wave of European protest movements: contrary to the 1968 generation, the protesters now fight to preserve their parents’ world, not to change it.
Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov talks to journalist Kristel Kossar about the hopes for democracy in Russia and Russia’s relationships with its neighbours. Nemtsov fears that democratising Russia will not be possible if Prime Minister Vladimir Putin becomes the next President. Policy analyst Anna-Mariita Mattiisen criticises the European Union’s human rights policy in relation to Belarus, arguing that in spite of the efforts, the policy has not yet delivered the desired effects; and that more often than not, the rhetoric of human rights is used to promote other, more pragmatic goals.
This issue of Diplomaatia also continues its series of reflections on the developments in the Arab world. Political scientist Francis Fukuyama assesses the changes taking place in Egypt, emphasising the interconnectedness of political, socio-economic and cultural factors. Although many analysts have tried to interpret the Arab spring either in Fukuyaman or in Huntingtonian terms – that is, focusing on the universality of liberal democracy or the inevitability of cultural clashes – Fukuyama himself argues that in order to understand the processes in the Middle East, one should turn to his former teacher Samuel Huntington who has offered the kind of comprehensive interdisciplinary analysis that has become rare in today’s highly specialised fields of social science.
Egyptian researcher Mohamed Elagati compares the revolutions in several Arab countries and claims that even though developments in different countries have not been identical, they have been similar – having similar reasons, similar courses of events and also similar problems to face. The High Representative of the European Union, Catherine Ashton, shares her impressions from Libya and insists that the EU should support the democratic powers in the region. Defence analyst Kaarel Kaas debates Vahur Koorits’ article on the Arab Spring from April’s Diplomaatia, and another defence analyst Erik Männik introduces the possible next leader of Al-Qaeda after Osama bin Laden, Saif al-Adeli.
Finally, this issue contains three book reviews. Civil servant Luukas Ilves reviews an Estonian collection of essays on the concept of sovereignty, “Iganenud või igavene” (“Forgone or forever?”), edited by Hent Kalmo and Marju Luts-Sootak. Journalist Priit Simson reviews “Aftershock: The next economy and America’s future” by Robert B. Reich. The closing essay is a review by Finnish writer and translator Jukka Mallinen of four recent Finnish books, all of which challenge Finland’s prevalent pragmatic foreign policy line and criticise the phenomenon of “Finlandisation” and the still prevailing lack of open discussion about it – at least until now.

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