Books on Estonia
Update No: 314 - (22/02/07)
Relations between Estonia and Russia have never been exactly cuddly. Indeed, the
Estonians and the Russians have no great love lost for each other. The former
cordially detest the latter, of which the Russkis are well aware.
The occupation of Estonia by the USSR in 1940 is regarded by every Estonian as
an abomination. It is one country that wished that the Soviet Union had never
Soviet troops arrived in Estonia in 1940. They swiftly absorbed it into the
Soviet Union. Nazi forces pushed them out in 1941. In this short period, the
Russians virtually destroyed the Estonian middle class by mass deportations to
Siberia, from which most never returned, and by individual executions. The Red
Army returned in 1944 and remained for half a century, finishing off the
destruction or displacement of a sizeable part of the Estonian population, and
replacing them in the workforce with the forced immigration of Russians, and
others from different parts of the Soviet Union - the cause of todays ethnic
problems. Then in the 1990s Estonia declared independence from the Soviet Union.
The Estonians can now scarcely believe their luck. They are free of the Soviet
Symbolism is all
But a major diplomatic row was brewing in early February over plans by the tiny
Baltic state to demolish a monument to Red Army soldiers who freed Estonia from
the Nazis back in 1944.
Estonia's unrepentant prime minister, Andrus Ansip, who heads a right-wing
nationalist government, wants to get rid of the monument - arguing that it is a
symbol of Estonia's occupation by the Soviet Union. Moscow disagrees. It says
the plan to shift the memorial is an insult to the dead and an alarming sign of
anti-Russian "fascism" in what it calls "revanchist"
Some 2,000 pro-Kremlin activists on February 8th staged a demonstration in
Moscow calling on Estonia to think again. Russia has already formally protested
about the move to the European Union, which Estonia joined in 2004.
However, Mr Ansip said that he wasn't going to change his mind. In a defiant
interview he said for Estonians there wasn't any difference between German Nazis
and Russian communists. "Both the swastika and the hammer and sickle are
symbols of occupation regimes in Estonia," he told the Russian News Agency
Interfax, adding he wouldn't bend to "Russian threats."
The row is made more bitter by the fact that some Estonians fought with the
Nazis. The dispute over the statue in the capital Tallinn has become a symbol of
the deep divisions in Estonian society. The country's large ethnic Russian
population wants it to stay - with Russia claiming that ethnic Russians there
suffer persecution. Estonian officials say they merely want to move the monument
Either way, Estonia appears to be the latest post-Soviet state to have fallen
out with its mighty neighbour, following the recent examples of Ukraine and
Belarus- not to mention Georgia. If Estonia refuses to back down expect
sanctions from Moscow next.
No need for border treaties with Russia - Estonian PM
Estonia's prime minister said on January 6th that his country does not need
any border agreements with Russia. Talks on border agreements between the
countries have been deadlocked since Russia refused to ratify the document
signed in 2005, citing new provisions inserted by Tallinn.
"Of course, we would like relations between our countries to be more
accurate and clear, which is why I advocate border treaties. But they have to be
ratified by the Russian side. However, the absence of similar treaties is not a
problem with the European Union, NATO or Schengen [countries]," Andrus
Ansip said live on Radio 4.
The two countries signed border agreements on May 18th, 2005, and the Estonian
parliament ratified the documents on June 20th, but with additional demands
linked to the 1920 peace treaty between Soviet Russia and Estonia.
On September 6th, Russia notified Estonia that it was revoking its signature
from the treaties because the 1920 document was no longer valid.
Moscow said the new provisions in the ratification law could be seen as legally
entitling Estonia to make some territorial claims on Russia.
Moscow proposed including a provision "that all the previously signed
agreements and treaties in bilateral history outlining the border are
invalid" in mid-2006, but Estonia replied that it had no intention of
Ansip said cooperation between the two countries' border guards was one of the
best examples of interaction, despite the absence of border agreements. He added
that many countries lived in peace and harmony without such documents being
Alcatel-Lucent aids Estonia's Elion for broadband access
An Estonian telecom and IT provider, Elion Enterprises, recently tapped Alcatel-Lucent
for the delivery of an IP-based broadband access network. According to local
media, Alcatel-Lucent has already completed the first phase of the project by
delivering the first nodes. According to a recent Alcatel-Lucent statement, its
DSL system would enable Elion to offer triple-play services to its reported
141,000 subscribers. "The new agreement specifically calls for Alcatel-Lucent
to deliver its 7302 Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM), an IP access
platform, and its 7330 ISAM Fiber-to-the-Node (FTTN)," the statement said.
"Alcatel-Lucent is presently helping us in a fast and efficient way with
DSL deployment and that is critical to our business. Their IP access platform
and experience in broadband access will enable us to evolve further in our
triple play offering and expand to even higher bandwidth services," said
Toivo Praakel, director of Elion's Internet and Datacom Division, in a separate
statement, New Europe reported.
Direct rail freight link to China is eyed by Estonia
The Estonian state-owned rail operator, Eesti Raudtee (ER,) is projecting the
setting of a direct regular rail freight link from Tallinn through Kazakstan to
China in 2007, New Europe reported.
According to reports, the rail delivery in 11-14 days would be competitive with
the maritime cargo links to China, with the delivery time ranging from 35 to 45
days. The link would increase 50-fold the container transit volume through
Estonia. The website railway-market.pl quoted Rene Varek, marketing director at
ER as saying that the company would launch the direct rail freight link Tallinn-Almaty
(Kazakstan), an extension to the Chinese launched Shanghai-Almaty link. ER
targets to increase the container transit volume from the present 10,000 units a
year to 500,000 units in the next 3-5 years. ER claims the development of the
container transit sector is an integral part of the ports' made investments into
the building of container terminals, such as the Port of Tallinn owned Muuga
port and the private-equity Sillamae port. Varek however apprehended that the
targeted rail link plan could be upset by Russia.