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Tag: Estonia

Making the invisible seen. The Baltic struggle for independence

A conversation with Una Bergmane, author of Politics of Uncertainty: The United States, the Baltic Question, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union. Interviewer: Maciek Makulski

MACIEJ MAKULSKI: How did you arrive at the point when you thought that there is still much to uncover when it comes to our understanding of the processes around the collapse of the Soviet Union and the regaining of independence by the Baltic states?

UNA BERGMANE: I would probably say by accident, since I wanted to write a master's thesis about French-Baltic relations in the 1920s and 30s when the Baltic states were independent before the Soviet occupation. But then I discovered that there was already a doctoral dissertation just defended in Paris on that very topic. So I started then to look at what seemed like the next logical thing – what France did when the Baltic countries wanted to become independent again at the end of the 1980s. What was interesting for me initially was the discrepancy between what I saw in the French archives.

June 22, 2024 - Maciej Makulski Una Bergmane

A central and eastern EU elections summary

While the results of the EU parliamentary elections in Central and Eastern Europe did not lead to political upheaval as seen in France, it is becoming clear that the far-right representation in Strasbourg will increase from this part of Europe.

June 11, 2024 - Ottilie Tabberer

While Western Europeans smell smoke, we see fire

General Martin Herem, commander of the Estonian Armed Forces, explains how Estonia is preparing for possible aggression from Russia and why its approach may differ from the other Baltic countries. Interviewer: Rasa Tapinienė, journalist with LRT.

May 10, 2024 - LRT Martin Herem Rasa Tapinienė

Estonia aims to help Europe’s rare earth supply chain

Once a Soviet-era uranium processing plant, the Silmet factory in Sillamäe, Estonia, is now Europe’s leading processor of rare earths. Silmet’s mother company, Toronto-headquartered Neo Preformance Materials, aims to establish the continent’s first manufacturer of high performance magnets for European consumers. These “permanent magnets” have the potential to make a huge impact in the European electric car and offshore wind-turbine industries, which up until now were exclusively dependent on supplies from an increasingly less reliable source – China.

It was during the COVID-19 pandemic, when China's borders temporarily closed, that something clicked in Raivo Vasnu’s mind. Silmet, the factory he heads in Sillamäe, Estonia is a former Soviet uranium-processing facility in Europe’s north-easternmost tip near the Russian border. It is also Europe’s largest processor of rare earths, a crucial category of elements necessary for a wide range of technologies, including electric cars and wind turbine technologies.

February 7, 2024 - Isabelle de Pommereau

The spirit of Estonia’s tradition of song

The Estonian song festival, Laulupidu, has taken place every five years for over 150 years. It is one of the largest choral events in the world and involves almost all of Estonia. The festival embraces the power of singing, which has become a national symbol for Estonia, especially in the most troubling of times.

That recent stormy night in Europe’s eastern frontier still reverberates for a 19-year-old student and much of her country. It happened during the closing hour of Laulupidu, Estonia’s biggest national gathering, a quinquennial choral event that had helped Estonia free itself from communism. Under pouring rain that July 2nd, before a crowd, Hanna Grete Rebane stood in a choir of 23,000 young Estonians singing poetic verses about yearning for one’s homeland despite hardships. As darkness began to settle, the audience began to sway with the singers; people held hands and wept, waving the Estonia flag.

September 11, 2023 - Isabelle de Pommereau

“What happens in Ukraine will have an immediate effect on us”

Interview with Martin Helme, leader of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE). Interviewer: Daniel Jarosak

August 3, 2023 - Daniel Jarosak Martin Helme

Estonia’s urban-rural divide: Cracks at home become a chasm abroad

Many saw Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’ victory in Estonia’s recent election as a win for European liberalism in challenging times. Despite this, the country’s urban and rural areas are now divided more than ever. This result reflects a wider, continental trend.

June 14, 2023 - Samuel Kramer

“This was an election campaign dominated by the context of the war in Ukraine”

An interview with Stefano Braghiroli, Associate Professor of European Studies at the University of Tartu. Interviewer: Maciej Makulski.

June 12, 2023 - Maciej Makulski Stefano Braghiroli

The ongoing process of de-Sovietisation in Eastern Europe

The war in Ukraine strengthened the de-Sovietisation process already taking place in Eastern Europe. It has pushed states to further remove the remnants of the Soviet past, including monuments, which are believed to have ideological symbolism and play a significant role in shaping collective identity.

Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia’s actions have been discussed not only as a brutal violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a neighbouring state, but also as a continuation of Russian imperial policy and a desire to rebuild the Soviet Union. Yet, amidst the war in Ukraine, Eastern Europe showed its powerful counter-desire to be freed from the Soviet past and Russian influence.

February 15, 2023 - Nino Chanadiri

Security policy is not cheap nor is it easy

A conversation with Jonatan Vseviov, an Estonian diplomat and secretary general of the Estonian ministry of foreign affairs. Interviewer: Lesia Dubenko

February 7, 2023 - Jonatan Vseviov Lesia Dubenko

Fallen heroes: the challenging issue of remembering controversial figures.

There is no model approach to dealing with how to commemorate controversial figures in the post-Soviet world. Estonia could provide an example for countries in the region on how to counter an often deafening silence.

December 12, 2022 - Owen Howells

The unfin(n)ished story of the Baltic alliance

From the region’s perspective, the 1922 Warsaw Accord between Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Poland was a significant step in strengthening geopolitical interests and safeguarding against Russian aggression. Unfortunately, the agreement ultimately failed. This year’s ratification by Finland’s parliament of its application to join NATO can be seen as a final step in this process that began over 100 years ago.

The most promising and – to a certain degree – surprising declaration made by Finland on its interest in joining the NATO Alliance immediately reminded me of the so-called Warsaw Accord. This treaty was drafted 100 years ago on March 17th 1922 and embodied the initiative of a Baltic alliance between Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Poland. Anti-Soviet in nature, cooperation ultimately failed due to reservations expressed by Helsinki. In the summer of 1922 the Finnish parliament – Eduskunta – decided not to ratify the pact. A century later, on May 17th 2022, 188 out of 200 Finnish MPs voted on accession to NATO. The story has come full circle. A story which deserves to be told.

September 29, 2022 - Grzegorz Szymborski

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