February 10, 2017

What Will Become of the Transatlantic Connection?

REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

Transatlantic relations have been one of the cornerstones of Estonia and Europe since World War II. Now, thanks to the new US president, Donald Trump, the connection has become tenuous. Anxiety and the uncertainty are the most common words used to characterise world events today. This year’s first issue of Diplomaatia explores these events.

Kalev Stoicescu, research fellow at the ICDS, explores Trump’s policies primarily in the context of US–Russian relations. “Ordinary Russians cheered for Trump —naturally inspired by the Kremlin’s propaganda apparatus—and were sincerely happy about his victory, but for a quite different reason: ‘so there would not be a war’; however, they overestimated Trump’s respect for and awe of Putin and Russia, and his willingness to forgive the Kremlin everything and give his blessing to matters concerned with, for example, Ukraine,” writes Stoicescu.
Foreign-policy experts Viljar Veebel, Karmo Tüür and Andrei Hvostov comment on the subject.
Lembit Uibo of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs discusses developments in the European Union’s defence sphere.
This year’s first interview focuses on Kaliningrad. Solomon Ginsburg, one of Kaliningrad’s best-known politicians, talks about prospects for relations between the area and the European Union. “For example, we must begin by allowing EU citizens visa-free visits to Kaliningrad. At the moment, this might be considered a very ambitious proposal, but it’s one that can be fulfilled,” he says.
Mariann Rikka, an expert at the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, looks at the right to a good education. She thinks that the state has no right to lie.
Diplomaatia’s second interview focuses on history—painful issues in relations between Turkey and Armenia. Hakan Özoğlu, professor of history and programme director of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Central Florida, says that historians need to state evidence, not provide legal assessments.
In the first of a series of articles, Kaarel Piirimäe, a historian specialising in contemporary history, writes about Estonia and Estonians in the world of intelligence during the Cold War. “Even if we accept that nothing can be learnt word for word from the history of war, we still need to study Estonian military history of the Cold War era,” writes Piirimäe. “By analysing the military infrastructure of the USSR in the Baltic States, we may begin to understand modern Russia’s military and strategic interest in this territory and towards its population.”
Political scientist Toomas Varrak writes that the current version of the Estonian–Russian border treaty is detrimental. “We cannot build sustainably good interstate relationships on injustice, even if it seems that the parties have accepted this state of affairs,” he states. Marko Mihkelson, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament), responds to Varrak.

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