Thursday, March 30, 2006

Estonia

Why suddenly Estonia? :-) Well, I had a visitor at my home from Estonia who left yesterday. She told me that most people she has met do not know about the existence of her country. She sure did add on to my knowledge of world geography. Without sounding complicated, let me see what I remember.

For starters I found this great explanatory map. You can click on it for an enlarged view.



So this little country is on the northern tip of Europe. Estonia was part of the former Soviet Union and when it disintegrated in 1991, Estonia alongwith two other countries got back their independent status. Back, because Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia had always been part of Europe before they were annexed and brought under the Soviet Union. Estonia is also a member of the European Union.

It is a peaceful little country, with 1/3 rd of its population living in the capital, Tallinn. However, not entirely peaceful. Although in many ways, independence is being enjoyed by the people, yet with the end of the communist regime, many people have become homeless and live on the streets. My friend says that many men have lost their jobs, taken to alcoholism, and therefore a lot of households are headed by women. The life expectancy ratio of women is more than men, by at least ten years.

Not to mention the under currants of ethnic strife. Estonia shares its borders with Russia. About 30% of the population constitute of Russian speakers who have been living in Estonia before 1991. Many of these people do not have citizenship of any country! After 1991, those who could speak the Estonian language (who included the original Estonians of course and some Russians) were given Estonian citizenship. But Russian people who are old do not have the capacity to learn the Estonian language and pass a test in order to get the citizenship of Estonia. They do not want to move to Russia as they have been there all along. So many people are deprived of citizenship rights. The State of Estonia has its reasons for not awarding citizenship to non-Estonian speakers as they do not wish that the Parliament should at any point of time get dominated by Russian speakers.

The world with its myriad made problems... is it as simple as that? On one level yes, on another level no. Yes it is simple because the politics is so clear – it repeats everywhere in the world with an amazing resemblance in the pattern (have'nt we heard the expression "ethnic strife" much too often), well no, because I wonder how long the wait would be before all people in this world can have a basic minimum for living. I wonder when there would be no borders and boundaries in the minds. I also wonder when money would lose all the sinful power it weilds.


Anyway, I wonder why I have to remember the depressing elements of everything. Do I? I don’t know why. Except that they are not depressing for me. I am consumed by the lovely picture book my guest presented. It is called “Eestimaa” (that is how Estonia is pronounced in the Estonian language) by Ann Tenno.

Even then I must look at the old structures in Tallinn which remind me so much of the ones I have seen in the World War II movies and I must think what must have gone on there during that time…

Also I am in a reflective mood today.


6 comments:

Meera said...

I definetly haven't heard about this little country. All what you wrote about it was has definetly increased my knowledge so thank you. Anyway what you said about the boundries I think the same questions sometime. All these things has existed since beginning of time. History shows it. I guess you can always hope and believe and try to change things thats within your limits.

Meera said...

And one more thing thanks so much for adding me to your links. And I love the links you have added.(including mine ;) ) Really interesting websites !!!

ambrosia said...

Hi, and Shukriya! Nice to have you visiting my blog (the blog actually feels like home!!, does it not!?) from time to time and leaving your valuable comments.

When you speak of boundaries in the minds, well, from what I have read, it is clear that a golden period existed when people led a much more simple life materially but a rich one emotionally and spiritually. I also feel that each of us have many higher virtues which we have simply not chosen to live by. I guess then it becomes important to take charge over one's own personal development and try to set an example. I wonder if we can really make people change by telling them that they should, I mean the desire to change should come from within, no, what do you think?

Estonia in World Media said...

There were 2 unions of different ethnicity-based nations in the former communist Europe: Yugoslavia and USSR.

In Yugoslavia there are 5,5 countries today (Kosovo being "almost" independant) now. From 1991 to 2001 the different, now independant territories of Yugoslavia had had at least 5 large-scale wars, in which in total hundreds of thousands were killed/slaughtered, in Srebrenica alone 8 thousands civilians. These conflicts were ethnic-religious in essence: catholic and muslim slavs against ortodox slavs.

Now the same fate has befallen the other union: former USSR today consists of 15 independant states. Of which only 5 (Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltics) did not have large-scale wars or at least armed conflicts within itself or with one of the neighbours.

Some states, like Russian Federation, in just 10 years had 2 wars (the first 11994-1996 and the second 1999- Chechen wars) and several armed conflicts (for example Ossetian-Ingushian armed conflict in 1992).

One of the results of that is half of the World unrecognized de-facto independant states (incl S. Ossetia, Abkhazia, Kharabakh, Transdnistria) lie within the territory of the former USSR, all of them products of corresponding wars between major and minor ethnic groups.

Of those mentioned 5 states, which managed not to have wars or conflicts only 3 countries have large and powerful (in fact biggest in Europe) minority ethnic groups. And, as it was said above they have not experienced any conflicts: Estonia, Latvia and Ukraine.

Estonia and Latvia since 1989-91 have not had any "revolutions" or similar disturbances (pointing out to the fact that Ukrainian revolution of 2005 was based on ethnic lines). To say, on this geopolitical background, that Estonia has "ethnic tensions" is just to be fooled by the cheap and baseless Лremlin propaganda and disregard the well-known Estonian experience of peaceful and balanced co-existance of peoples.

ambrosia said...

Thank you very much for the information and the brief overview of the history. I appreciate it very much. I am trying to know more about your country or shall I say about your country and these insights are extremely helpful. What can be more satisfying than to know that Estonia has led by example in the practice of peaceful co-existance between peoples. However, as citizen of this world, I am concerned about peace in the larger world and would look forward to reading more exemplary material on the Estonian people.

I visited your blog, but I am sorry, I do not understand your language and I guess I will miss out on some valuable readings. Thanks for the comment again.

Meera said...

Wow that was even more informative.And Ambrosia you dont have to thank me at all. I love coming your blog. And I think you cant force people to do things. They need to feel the need to change to be able to do it.