the next prime minister (after the next one)

The Estonian Social Democratic Party (Sotsiaaldemokraatlik Erakond) selected a new leader last week. Sven Mikser, 36, a former defense minister, has now pledged to lead his party to victory and take his rightful place as prime minister in Stenbock House. In 2015.

Mikser’s political pedigree is a bit like SDE’s itself. For the first half of his public life, he belonged to Edgar Savisaar’s Centre Party (Eesti Keskerakond). Then, in 2005, he left the “green monster” for SDE, where he quickly became one of the party’s top candidates.

Several SDE leaders have a similar background. Both Centre and SDE emerged from the Estonian Popular Front in the early nineties, but SDE has been more able to form a coalition with right-wing parties, most recently one in 2007 which lasted until the party was expelled from the government in 2009. The main obstacle to reconciliation between the more politically similar Centre and SDE has been the leadership style of Centre’s Savisaar. Following the municipal elections last year, former SDE leader Jüri Pihl led the party into a coalition with Centre in Tallinn.

Pihl stood again for the party leadership last week but was ousted by those supporting Mikser. It is now his unenviable duty to return the party to its ideological roots, steering it away from its negative image as a “poodle” for the conservative and liberal parties, while dealing with the 800-pound gorilla of Savisaar’s Centre Party.

The Estonian electorate tends to favor the conservative and liberal parties in parliamentary elections. One reason for this is that they have mostly been in power since 1991. That gives them the advantage of experience and the ability to take credit for everything Estonia has achieved. But with high unemployment, Estonians are also edgier than they were during the boom years. And with most of Europe still climbing out of recession, the ability to just head to the UK for work isn’t there anymore.

The appearance of a candidate like Mikser who has the experience of conservative or liberal politician but who speaks to their economic interests might convince voters who have traditionally voted Reform or Isamaa to choose SDE, and it might sway some younger Centre voters to ditch their candidate for someone fresher.

But it is an uphill battle. Most Estonian voters I have encountered are pretty uninformed when it comes to left-wing politics. They refer to social democrats as “socialists,” which, in their mind, might as well be communists or anarcho-syndicalists. This is why SDE’s website has for months, if not years, been playing a clip that lists Tony Blair, Tarja Halonen, and Olof Palme (not Daniel Ortega, Fidel Castro, and Lê Duẩn) as social democrats.

Will Mikser realize his goal of becoming prime minister in 2015? It could happen. On one hand, he lacks the experience of the Ansips and Laars and Savisaars and Pihls of Estonian politics, but, on the other hand, he doesn’t have their baggage either. He also happens to have an impressive command of the English language.

89 thoughts on “the next prime minister (after the next one)

  1. “These guys like Jaan Tõnisson and Otto Strandmann hanged out with people like Kingissepp and even took part of 1905 revolution.”

    God, what a silly mistake. When I said like Tõnisson and Strandman, I wanted to describe the whole bunch of those 1920's prime ministers.

    Tõnisson himself didn't took part of 1905, but a lot of those guys did. Including Päts, but he obviously seems to have changed his worldview by then.

    I should probably go to sleep before I make more mistakes.

    I'll add, that modern Estonia was built by Kaarel Eenpalu under Päts. He brought us the whole right-wing nationalism and military romanticism Estonia we so remember with fondness these days.

    You know what's a real shame. These things are not taught in school. School history books just fly past the whole 1920's and go pretty much immediately into Päts, Laidoner and Eenpalu Estonia.

    For a surprisingly short history, there are a whole lot of different Estonias out there. It's all about what you focus on and what you choose to ignore.

    I think the world would be a much better place if 1920's Estonia was taught with much more detail in school history.

    Say out loud that they fu***** mastu******* to Marx when they were young. Don't be ashamed of it.


  2. “For a surprisingly short history, there are a whole lot of different Estonias out there.”

    It should read: “For such a short history, there are surprisingly a whole lot of different Estonias out there.”


  3. Surprisngly, from what I know of Mart Laar, he's not ashamed to be eastern european, he pretty much embraces Eastern Europe and keeps on fighting the good fight for all former Soviet countries.

    Laar was prime minister during Ilves' effort to rebrand Estonia as “Nordic.” He was very much involved in that effort.

    I'll add, that modern Estonia was built by Kaarel Eenpalu under Päts. He brought us the whole right-wing nationalism and military romanticism Estonia we so remember with fondness these days.

    Absolutely. That is the period that is recycled most by the current leaders (who are by and large center-right). Some of them also have family links to Päts-era Estonia. The Freedom Monument is something that might have been erected in 1936.


  4. Troels-Peter,

    One should add here that Lennart Meri had family connections to Sweden (his mother was an Estonian Swede) and Toomas Hendrik Ilves has links there (he was born there). Of all post-'91 leaders, they have probably had the most influence in shaping Estonia's image in a regional/cvilizational context.

    Here I will add that Marju Lauristin was influential. She was the first head of the post-'91 social democratic party, and embraced, to the extent that she could, the Scandinavian model for Estonia. In her book “Return to the West,” the “West” is clearly Finland and Sweden.

    If you listen to Savisaar, he too will tell you he wants to run Estonia like Finland. Those countries represent normalcy and stability to the former Popular Fronts, a third way out of post-Soviet.

    So it is constructed, but, like Joshua has sort of pointed out, everything in Estonia is constructed. Even the Baltic Germans, those overseers of 700 years of slavery, are now recalled fondly for bringing Lutheranism and literacy to Estonia.

    But that is where you get to the core of Scandinavian influence: it's old. Estonian peasant schools were established under Swedish rule, in the local language, AGAINST the wishes of the Baltic German upper class. And Estonia owed its high literacy rate (something like 91 percent in the mid 19th century) directly to the establishment of Estonian-language instruction, set in motion by the absolutist, Karl XI.

    One could make a powerful argument that, minus enlightenment-era Swedish administration, Estonia might not exist as a country today. Literacy in the other Russian provinces was extremely low (I have read it was as low as 10 percent in Setomaa at the corresponding time).

    Estonians seem to have been on the side of the Swedes in the Great Northern War. And this idea, of Estonia as part of the “civilized” West, versus a “less civilized” Russia (which did roll back many of the reforms of absolutist Sweden in the beginning of the 18th century) is a powerful meme that was recycled in the 1990s by people like Meri who called their state “former Swedish empire.”

    That was the early period of influence. But now Estonia is again under Nordic influence. Why? This has a lot to do with Sweden and Finland themselves. The Sweden of the 90s and today is not the Sweden of the 1920s and 30s. Nor is Finland. Those countries were not exceptionally wealthy nor stable at that time. Only maybe since maybe the late 1980s did Sweden and Finland become economically powerful enough that they could *nordify* (to steal an idea from Ilves) a place like Estonia.

    And the Swedish grip does not abate. They are the largest foreign direct investor, and next to Finland the biggest market for exports. Estonia is now deeply under Scandinavian influence. When Estonian news reports compare domestic statistics, they typically do it with Finland or Sweden. Why? Because it is part of the overall “catching up” idea that has been popular since the days of the Popular Fronts.

    Here again, I must ask, would there be an independent Estonia without Finland or Sweden? The whole existence of the state seems to be predicated on the existence of Finland, the whole economic tale of the country since 1991 is intertwined with Stockholm.

    Lots to think about, perhaps fodder for a new blogpost!


  5. As someone who is sort of familiar with Sweden and Estonia, but much more with Finland, I find this discussion endlessly fascinating. There is an obvious difference between Finland and Scandinavia, even if Finland has obviously been shaped by, and long measured itself against (that “catching up” you write about), Sweden. Finland was once considered a Baltic country, and the idea of the “Nordic countries” is a post-war political construct.

    It's such a pity (most) Estonians and Finns aren't so interested in each other. Those freaks should rule the school!


  6. Joshua, all your posts are quite interesting, I'd like to disagree with some of your evaluations though.

    When you write ''And Tõnnisson while more centristic, constantly was in alliance with Strandmann who was all Tööerakond, which was a socialist leaning party. So they definitely together represent a centrist-left worldview'' we must keep in mind the political spectrum/system these days was sth rather different from that of our days.

    Tõnisson was definitely a right-winger in 1905, as he was in 1917 or 1939. For example, his People's Party and the Christian People's Party were the only Estonian parties to question the radical land reform together with the Baltic German representatives.

    In Czarist Russia, Tõnisson represented the more well-to-do, liberal/nationally minded bourgeoisie and peasants, whereas Päts was initially clearly a radical (cf. also French radicalism), hence his participation in 1905 revolution. Päts's base of support was mostly peasantry, I think including many of those who benefitted from the radical land reform.

    Once the basic demands of the rural folk had been met, these strata quickly adopted a more conservative position, as did Päts (in Western Europe, too, the peasantry would support conservative parties, cf. CDU/CSU or French counterparts).

    Also, Tõnisson could only ally with the Labour Party when this had drifted to the right, abandoning the initially leftist positions (the whole Estonian political spectrum had been pretty leftist until the independence was gained, and then drifted to the right). In 1930s, both Päts and Tõnisson were clearly right-wingers, the differences between those two having just much to do with their interpersonal opposition (for comparison, in Irish politics there has been a comparable division between FF and FG, both actually right-wing parties.)



  7. Interesting discussion. Historically, all Western countries (even the USA though barely) are “social-democratic”, if we consider the present situation from the perspective of the pre-war political debate. This is not something unique to Sweden or to the Nordic countries but is a common Western status. As regards the Nordic model there doesn't seem to be much to be ashamed about, is there now? High social mobility, open economies, quite strong economic performance. Finland certainly used to be quite ambivalent about the Nordic connection (largely through the strongly anti-Swedish slant of the early language based Finnish nationalism), but WWII settled our hesitations quite efficiently (and the governing elite had made its choice even before the war). Estonia has more freedom in its choice of orientation, but there surely are worse clubs in the world…


  8. @ Joshua: No, it's mostly published on paper, so I can't really provide any links, but eg. Andres Küng usually stresses the connection. For example how Swedish authorities limited the power of the Teutonic Order; how the Swedish age is still remembered as “the good old Swedish times” in Estonia and Livonia; how the early Estonian state was successful in building a welfare society (maybe that is a better word than “social democratic” although they are somehow regarded as connected within Scandinavia) in the twenties; how Tallinn was 25% Swedish in medieval times and how close the Estonian language is to Finnish (here he exaggerates, I think) and so on.

    There is also a Swedish book, “Estland genom tiderna” (Estonia through the ages) published by Välis-Eesti publishers some time during the Soviet occupation. It is more or less a nostalgic presentation of interbellum Estonia which also emphasizes Scandinavian contacts. It has a very Camelot-like feel to it.

    I'm not claiming, though, that they call Estonia Scandinavia, only that it is under (defining?) Scandinavian influence (Denmark beating Russia in the christianization race and so on).

    Giustino's information about the school system is interesting in this respect because it could support the idea of 17th century Sweden backing up the Estonian language.

    @Giustino: Yes, the funny thing about constructions is that sometimes they actually come true (partly because they may be built from existing material which is being emphasized in a new way). This is also why I'm interested in the future of the “Nordic” discourse. I see that the tourist organisation has adopted it too. Is it growing stronger?

    Which role do you think Finland had in Estonia's independence?

    @Matthew: In Denmark, Norway and Sweden the Scandinavian trend is about 100 years older (approx. 1840), and I can surely understand why bilingual Finland is more ambivalent towards it.

    It's interesting to think that if Finland had not been bilingual and thereby “Nordic”, an Estonian claim to be so (rightly or wrongly) probably could not have existed.

    It is indeed an intersting subject.

    PS: I use the terms “Scandinavian” and “Nordic” synonymously. I know there are more opinions about this.


  9. Joshua, maybe I'm naive (and I also have papers to write, so I don't really have time to research), but isn't the Swedish/Scandinavian connection more easily explained in terms of shared Finno-Ugric cultural affiliation with Finland — and via Finland with Sweden?

    Or are you claiming that, despite this connection, there wasn't much talk of a “Scandinavian side” in Estonia during the First Republic — so that emphasis on this connection would be a more recent phenomenon?

    And regardless of this… if the connection exists (via Finland), isn't this a fact, even if the people may have ignored it in some moments of Estonian history?

    (Consider, for instance, that Estonia also has strong historical and cultural ties to Latvia, yet in times when Latvia is poorer it doesn't seem interesting to insist or take pride on them; if, however, Latvia suddenly became the Germany of the Baltics we might hear more about the “Baltic side” of Estonia.)


  10. Linguista: “Isn't the Swedish/Scandinavian connection more easily explained in terms of shared Finno-Ugric cultural affiliation with Finland — and via Finland with Sweden?

    Or are you claiming that, despite this connection, there wasn't much talk of a “Scandinavian side” in Estonia during the First Republic — so that emphasis on this connection would be a more recent phenomenon?”

    We were mongolians to swedes in those days. Early 20th century was a racist time with it's weird eugenics and population purification ideas. And finno-ugrians definitely didn't pass for white in that time.

    And that you will actually see when you read those people who emphasized finno-ugricness in early 20th century. They looked towards east. Tengriism, Shamanism, Taoism, Mongolia, Japan and tried to find elements of those in our finno-ugric past.

    And Uku Masing completely took the opposite attitude towards rampant aryanism of white europe. He said that the indo-europeans are the unevolved missing link between ape and man. And all the colored people of the world (including finns and estonians) are superior. And Uku Masing is definitely THE finno-ugricist.

    Uku Masing is also the only estonian to have received the Righteous among the Nations title for helping to save a jewish life from Holocaust. So God thinks that Uku Masing is right. Just saying.

    But all those emphasizers were definitely a minority. I think the finno-ugric identity really peaked in 1970's with Meri's anthropological films. And Meri later also started the whole “we're actually baltic germans” identity in 1990's. He definitely was very deconstructivist when it came to national identity. It was like a game to him, what matters is what people themselves imagine to be and what is useful for them to imagine themselves to be.

    Estonians in 1930's I guess mostly tried to be as white as possible and hush-hush all the weird talk about The Uralic Connection. Or they just didn't make a big deal out of it.

    When did Heinrich Rosenthal release his autobiography? In 1912. In his book, estonians are an uralic-altaic people who came to Europe in 8th century AD. But he doesn't make a big deal out of it. It's just who we were. He himself is for all intents and purposes a german. That's his mother language, his culture and the way of life his side of estonian nationalism (The Jannsen Camp) fought for.

    So… it's complicated. Estonia is like 10 guys, who all have several theories about their collective identity.

    I guess, there was some inferiority complex towards baltic germans and quite a lot of estonians definitely wanted to be considered white. Then there were quite a lot of estonians who didn't care, cause they had more humanistic or just plain socialistic ideals. Or because they lived in a remote rural area. Then there were those hardcore finno-ugricists with their “Asia rocks! Down with white people! Their ways are evil and vile!” And then… I don't know, the average petite burgeouise person who enjoyed small things in life and looked out for just himself and his small group. And this average person was also the majority I think.


  11. What I'm trying to say that finno-ugric connection is definitely not the way to being scandinavian. Not then (because germanic people were suffering from aryan delusion) and not now.

    Honestly, what this finno-ugric connection, if we'd emphasize it, would connect us with is the very thing we despise these days – Russia. Apparently finno-ugrics and eastern slavs overlapped quite a lot in the early days.

    Orlando Figes discusses some of this in his Natasha's Dance. I'll give the short version: rampant animism and shamanistic symoblism everywhere.

    And a lot of finno-ugric invetions are the basis of modern russian culture. Like pelmeni for example.

    And Estonia just doesn't roll that way anymore. In 1919 Lembitu won. In 2010, Bishop Albert won and saved the world from these weird primitive suspiciously asian people that lived here and planted some real and honest white people here who are our ancestors.

    But back to the swedish connection in interbellum period. I found an interesting piece by some swedish guy in late 1930's, called Swedish relations with Balticum – Unfortunately in estonian. And I didn't have the time to read it thoroughly, but from what I can tell is that he says that Sweden is primarily interested in maintaing it's status quo and that he knows that Estonia and Sweden don't have a lot of cultural connections, but he also knows that Estonia at the moment is looking for it's identity and from what culture to base it on – he lists examples like russian, german, france, british – and he offers Sweden as the culture to base itself from and does some PR for it.

    Written in 1937. I also might have skimmed it wrongly, but busy times demand rushed reading. Perhaps that's where it all began?


  12. But, Joshua, if Finno-Ugricness wasn't really important, what's with all the renewed interest in Finno-Ugric peoples in the Russian federation — the scholarships given to Erzyans, Mokshans, Maris, Udmurts, Komis, etc.; the support for their efforts at creating a literature; the ethnographic interest in sending expeditions to them; attention to political developments in these areas; etc. etc. etc.)? Is this also a recent phenomenon?


  13. It's the same group of passionate people who have always done it. The few estonians who feel the uralic call in their hearts.

    I wouldn't say that there is any renewed interest. It's a group of scholars and artists who maintain these organizations. Like it always has been a group of scholars and artists.

    And obviously something from 1970's exists to this day. Veljo Tormis is still alive for example.

    But, it's always been a small group of people.


  14. What is their interest? Grand Finland – stretching from Atlantic Ocean to Uralic Mountains. A Tribal Confederation between sami, baltic finns, komi, mari, khanty's and everyone else I didn't mention. The goal: to keep alive the finno-ugric languages, to look out for each other, to reconstruct our proper being and culture and to colonize space and sing runo songs on the new planets and galaxies of humanity.

    But seriously, there are a whole different reasons for this interest.

    I think one of those is “getting one with our roots.” There's this idea amongst those people that deal with finno-ugrics, that estonians have forgotten who they are. So one of those interests is definitely roots.

    The other is connection, family. To feel one with certain different groups of people. There's a difference in having a pan-nationalistic and a nationalistic identity. Pan-nationalistic is much more empowering.

    Then there's the romantic nature child thing. “We worship the nature and sing kumbaya, we're special people. Flower power!”

    And obviously finno-ugric patriotism like described above. But less crazy.


  15. Troels-Peter: “…and how close the Estonian language is to Finnish (here he exaggerates, I think) and so on.”

    While there are a lot of points worthy replying too, but since I already made one ridiculously long post, I picked something that promises a short post.

    All Baltic Finnic languages are pretty close to each other. I may not understand finnish when it's spoken. But I can understand when it's written.

    Of course it wasn't so the first time I tried to read finnish. So I took the book and stared at it for hours. And eventually my brain went “click” and I was “Oh, now I see! Stupid finns, why they need so many vowels for that word?”

    And this applies to other baltic finnic languages too. Recently I had the pleasure to read vepsian language. And it was quite an interesting experience with lots of cool words. But I can't really quite understand spoken vepsian –

    And this is a cool vepsian song –

    Because, the topic has apperenty gone in that direction and why not just roll with it.


  16. I really think that national identity is pretty much a cultural construct. Of course it will need some empirically observable connections (would be hard to construct a Native American national identity for Estonia…). So, if there are these connections, then almost anything goes. In that sense Estonia is relatively free to choose its direction. Also, it must be remembered, that many of these identities are overlapping and not mutually exlusive. I know quite a few people who connect their finno-ugric enthusiasm with as real Western or Nordic orientation. Only if we would think that there is somehow a “natural”, independently existing “correct” national identity, could we say that, those people are “mistaken”, they are “wrong”. But there is no such thing as naturally and independently existing national identity against which we could measure the correctness of different identifications.


  17. “All Baltic Finnic languages are pretty close to each other. I may not understand finnish when it's spoken. But I can understand when it's written.”

    Yes, well he claims that people can readily understand each other orally.

    Anyway, since we are off topic (you're right), I know that experience too – I once taught myself to read Faroese simply by reading newspapers. It sure is a cool thing when your brain goes “click”…


  18. stockholm slender: “Would be hard to construct a Native American national identity for Estonia…”

    It's been done already.

    For example.

    1) Check the pics –

    2) Listen to whatever Kirile Loo is doing in this song –

    This one also does a similar thing –

    Could be the reconstructed baltic finnic version of joik, but…

    Due to certain similarities shared between shamanistic cultures, it's actually not hard to do at all.

    Obviously, estonians aren't a shamanistic culture anymore, but whenever finno-ugricness gets emphasized the estonian identity immediately gets a certain borealic-shamanistic flavour. And it's not hard to go native america from there.

    And been done already. Definitely comparisons have been made by all the great finno-ugricists.

    I guess it works the same way like the turkish turanian identity works like. The turanian identity claims that turks, estonians, hungarians, mongolians, native americans are brothers and bases it also on a few superficial similarites – like how we all have tipi's or püstkoda's.

    But I believe that the turanian identity is a minority belief in Turkey, just like the finno-ugric identity is a minority belief in Estonia.

    Well, the only place you can find turanism these days is youtube or some badly google translated internet sites… it's heydays were certainly in the interbellum period, existing as an empowering counter-identity for the people who's belonging to the Great Aryan Club was somewhat under debate (hungarians).


  19. I've heard a theory that Northern Americans were previously Asians from Urals, ie Finnougrians who immigrated over Alaska so there. Dunno anything about the scientific base, but I remember my mother used to emphasize that Finnougrians with light hair and smallish, a bit Mongoloid eyes (like myself) constitute living proof of the theory.


  20. Living here I've been long looking for that edge. To get me some of mines. Everybody gots something, some special status and treatment. I am tired of being just taken for a regular vanilla-face who does not deserve any protection or compensation. Hey, I could be a decendant of the origininal Indians and I need some handout from government. At least a tax break would be nice. A surviving disadvantaged ugri-mugri specimen, the original proto-american.

    Please give me more science, jack!


  21. Actually, recent linguistic research has found a plausible connection between at least one Siberian people (the Ket) and one language family in North America (the Athapaskan family, including, among others, Navajo).

    The Ket aren't Finno-Ugric though. For all I know they are part of a small family (Yeniseyan) without any proven connections to other groups.

    But it's a beginning. 🙂


  22. I’m curious that ugri-mugri themes have found their way into pop culture while serious scholarship on the subject is underfunded and therefore underdeveloped. When the gnome project gets adeditional funding we will find out more about the possibility that our ancestors came from the basque people, not from behind the Urals as linguists maintain. Previous theory maintained that some finno-ugrians migrated westward to present-day Lapland, Finland, Estonia and Hungary, some east over Alaska and as far south as Chile – compare Lap joike to Chilean mountain chants and you will recognize the connection immediately. I’m a believer that people take their songs and dances with them when they migrate, and always have as they’re easy to carry. Watch the American Indians dance with their feel flat and backs straight – is that not the basic labajalg that Estonians claim as being theirs uniquely?

    Reflecting on the differences we have with finns I am stuck on the tragic life of their poet Pentti Saarikoski (1937-1983) who while tapping the very depths of his finno-ugric being could not cope with modern Europe life. Finns were long considered the ‘Indians’ of Europe with no similarities to their Scandinavian neighbors who were readily accepted as ‘europeans’.

    As Sven Mikser’s career spirals upward I am reminded that his smoothness with the English language could also hold him back. Of course, he was an English major and is expected to know his way around with the language, but some people find him too glib. Does that always mean ‘lack of depth’?


  23. Viimneliivlane (are you really the last Livonian? :-), I'm glad you're curious about Estonian origins, but I have to say it's very unlikely that Finno-Ugric people went to the Americas (the Yenisseians are the best bet now, and they're not related to you). Similarities in dancing style don't imply kin — there is such a thing as parallel evolution (like the homologies of biology) and cultural diffusion.

    I've always been favorable to those who are curious about their roots.

    Though I admit it doesn't seem to me that most Estonians are so worried about that, judging by what Joshua wrote. Maybe they prefer the European-Nordic connection à la Ilves.


  24. Probably a number of reasons can be given for this. My first thought on it, though, is the fact that the working language of the Nordic Council (the cooperation between the parliaments) and the Nordic Council of Ministers (the cooperation between the governments) is what I would call the main dialects of the Nordic language (Swedish, Norwegian, Danish).

    Finnish-speaking Finns learn Swedish in school, Greenlanders, Icelanders and Faroese learn Danish. Estonian politicians could bring along interpreters, of course (I believe some Finns do that), but they would still face a challenge.

    But maybe the language thing is symptomatic for the whole question about how Nordic the country actually is. I think there have been many long debates in the Nordic Council about this. I would like to see it as such, but I really don't know what to think.

    Surely, much more can be said about this subject. This was just one thought…


  25. I asked the question because I only recently discovered the existence of the Nordic Council (I feel ashamed, yes) and I was very surprised that Estonia isn't a member given that a lot of Estonians (the president for example) claim that Estonia is 'Nordic' or 'Scandinavian'.


  26. Well, it doesn't take more than two grey matter brain cells to figure out that even by close geography and history, there have been strong ties to Scandinavia for several thousand years. Current political and economical situations are what they are, but if you take a longer timeframe, then those links are quite apparent. Estonia is a majoritarily lutheran country, not an orthodox country. Genetically, there are contributions from native finno-ugric as well as neighbouring countries both by land and across the Baltic sea. Culturally, it is more Nordic than other countries. Is there a clear line that defines “nordicness”? Is Schleswig-Holstein nordic? Is Greenland? If we take an even longer timeframe, some may argue finno-ugric people were here even before Sweden, Norway, Denmark were populated. But Finland giving itself an air of superiority compared to Estonia is, historically speaking, a joke.


  27. Temesta, you're not to be blamed for only learning about them recently, since they never had much power anyway and have been overtaken by the EU in many respects except culture, so…

    Jalkameister, relevant questions indeed. I suppose my best answer for now is that regional cultural areas and identities are maybe best described as having a core and a periphery. The areas you mention belong in a Nordic periphery, then, and Estonia might do that too – and the Orkney and Shetland Islands for that matter (seriously!).

    The question is, then, if it belongs more in a Nordic than in a “Teutonic” or in a Baltic periphery.

    Now I feel sorry for wanting to place Estonia in a periphery all the time. On the other hand belonging to more than one can also be interesting.

    As for ancient history I'm somewhat reluctant to jump to conclusions about who was where at what time because cultural diffusion might not need to indicate migration, and we don't know about languages anyway before the written sources. I would like to be enlightened, though…


  28. “and I was very surprised that Estonia isn't a member”
    Yet in October (or September?) 1991 Estonian government applied for membership of Nordic Council. Application was rejected. I do not remember precisely, but there have been also applications after that. These were also rejected.


  29. “Yet in October (or September?) 1991 Estonian government applied for membership of Nordic Council. Application was rejected. I do not remember precisely, but there have been also applications after that. These were also rejected.”

    Would be interesting to know why the applications where rejected. When the countries the world sees as 'Nordic' don't want to have Estonia in their club, it seems to be more difficult for Estonia to promote itself as a Nordic country in a credible way.


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