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Russia and Estonia: obvious partners, not enemies

In interview with the Wall Street Journal, Estonian President exposes hysteria over Russian threat to the Baltic States as a sham.

In a recent interview published in the Wall Street Journal, outgoing American educated Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Illves said “What’s there to be nervous about”, when asked about Donald Trump’s comments on redirecting NATO’s trajectory from being a Cold War dinosaur to being an effective body to combat international terrorism. 

The statement, innocent though it may seem, has revealed the entire anti-Russia hysteria propagated from the Baltic Sea to the sea of faces at the Democratic National Convention as the utter sham that it is.

In the interview, Illves said that Trump’s statements were just election rhetoric. By reversing this logic, one could easily say that anti-Russian hysteria is mere political rhetoric.

The sad truth is that Estonia is a European country with the least to fear and most to gain from good relations with Russia. Estonia, though small, has a sophisticated digital infrastructure whilst Russia with her vast resources and talent is a valuable trading partner for any country.

Wouldn’t a country like Estonia be better off by offering hope rather than fear to her citizens? A small country whom most Hillary Clinton supporters could scarcely locate on a map, could benefit immensely from having better cooperation with Russia.

The fact that Estonia has a vastly higher number of Russian speakers, native and otherwise, than most European countries, surely puts her in a good place to do business.

Russia’s only main grievance with Estonia is the treatment of ethnic Russians, many of whom are refugees in their own birthplace, a present reality which violates the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights to which both Russia and Estonia are signatories.

One of Donald Trump’s main selling points on a global scale is that the world should be run more like a shopping mall than a battle field. Whilst the vulgarities of modern capitalism are readily criticised, conspicuous consumption is an admirable alternative to frivolous conflict.

By propagating an ‘us and them’ mentality, politicians can enrich themselves and their corporate partners, but not the lives of their people.

I’ve personally spoken to many people in Estonia and I know their real worries. The list includes dreadfully stagnant wages, shrinking job opportunities in industry and agriculture, the future of the European single market, migrating abroad and the weather.

At no time does ‘imminent Russian invasion’ come across the lips of a normal Estonian, except for those who aspire to make a career out of professional Russia hatred, something which seems to be a prerequisite to entering politics in far too many European countries and indeed prior to Donald Trump, also in America.

Deep down, apart from ideological maniacs, people on both sides of the Atlantic increasingly realise that portraying Russia as a threat is good business for some, bad business for many and increasingly unbelievable to most. 

When the anti-Russia merchants are finally put out of business in Europe and America, which I do believe will happen in a few years, they might well look to a surging Russia at the forefront of a widespread Eurasian union and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and want a seat at the table.

At that time Russia may well turn to Europe and say ‘what have you to offer us’?  Because Europe has spent so many years wasting critical policy making time on sanctioning and debasing Russia, the answer from Europe may be ‘not a hell of a lot’.

When Europe realises that the shopping mall is preferable to the battle field, they may just find that the shops have closed due to lack of customer interest.

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