November 4, 2014

The President, Stones and the Sun

CHARLES DHARAPAK/AP/SCANPIX

September has been eventful in the field of foreign and security policy. At the beginning of the month, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, visited Estonia. The time and place of his visit—the President arrived at short notice—spoke volumes. The visit of the U.S. head of state to a region and a state that many Russian politicians have identified as potentially the next target for Moscow at a time when Russia is waging an open war against Ukraine is undoubtedly noteworthy. The fact that Obama’s next stop after Tallinn was the NATO Summit in Wales is equally significant.

President Obama’s speech in Tallinn received abundant attention in Estonia and the international media. Obama promised that the United States of America would firmly uphold its duty of protecting its allies in case of danger and, as long as Estonia was a member of NATO, we would never lose our independence again.
It was precisely preparations for collective defence and securing freedom against external antagonists that this NATO summit was about—it was one of the most significant gatherings of the Alliance’s member states in its recent history. It was undoubtedly a successful summit for Estonia and the other Baltic States; as a result of the meeting, new allied units will be deployed to our region quite soon, in addition to the forces already here.
The essence of the words “firm” and “steadfast” was literally within arms’ length for Obama after he left Wales. The monoliths of Stonehenge, to which the President made a short visit, have stood in the same place for more than 4,000 years. Of course, we are not implying that the forces of our allies are planning to stay in Estonia and the other Baltic States for the next four millennia. But the prehistoric monument may be symbolic of the fact that things which are truly important will last despite everything.
The third weighty political event of the month—the Scottish independence referendum—is also connected to Great Britain. As Diplomaatia is printed, the Scots have not yet made their choice at the ballot box. However, the new number of our journal should reach you a day after the historic referendum has taken place on 18 September. The referendum can be called historic whatever the outcome: if the Scottish voters choose independence, or if those who favour living under a common British roof win with a slight majority.
And, finally, the Swedish parliamentary elections, which were held just before this issue was printed, also brought about significant change. The centre-right alliance that had led Sweden for eight years was defeated; the greatest number of votes was collected by the so-called red-green electoral alliance headed by the Social Democrats. At this point, it is too early to say what this means for Sweden and what will accompany the change …
Nevertheless, isn’t the phenomenon of the alternation of governments—the fact that one political force leaves the helm of state, while others return to it—a natural and regular occurrence, similar to the Sun shining on the centre of the Stonehenge ring at a solstice? This is just how things should be.

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