|What will become of us if the future of Europe is not certain or if we are bombarded by news of uncertainty from all directions?|
Monkees singer Davy Jones is dead, Mart Laar is in a hospital recovering from a stroke and pneumonia, and Vladimir Putin just won this month’s presidential election and plans to rule his country for a dozen more years. There has been a clear disturbance in the force. Now more than ever I feel the urge to stand up and do something to alter the trajectory of this cursed planet … and so I write a blogpost.
Putin is like every Russian complex wrapped up in one little man, a geopolitical pig in a blanket. He’s got that annoying knack for demanding respect. “Do you respect me? Do you respect me?” To which one can only answer, “Not really.”
It’s the pride thing that gets me. His latest tirade against Estonia was hilarious. “How can we accept that, due to their status as non-citizens, one in six Latvian residents and one in thirteen Estonian residents are denied their fundamental political, electoral and socioeconomic rights and the ability to freely use Russian?” asked Putin.
One in 13! It’s probably more like one in 14 or one in 15 by now, because there are 94,000 stateless persons left. But still. This guy is the president of the world’s largest piece of real estate, and he’s got his knickers in a bunch over that poor 13th guy in Estonia who can’t vote in parliamentary elections because he hasn’t managed to apply for some country’s citizenship in the past 20 years? Putin can’t be serious, can he? Maybe all of those protests have made him delirious. He must know the writing’s on the wall. Some people are saying he may only last a year into his new term before he retires to some tropical isle to cavort around with Berlusconi and underage girls and Napoleon’s ghost.
But … back to Estonia. At home in Estonia, we are worried, not because of Putin’s psychotic reactions, but because the people are abandoning ship. As Ilves said in his Independence Day speech: “Our own attitude towards our fellow countrymen is not a smaller concern. We cannot get far by looking for and emphasising mistakes and by being jealous of and mean to others.
“The state is often not better either,” he went on. “The return of the people is hampered by the rigid attitude towards the problems of those who arrive or return, be it the continuance of children’s studies, finding a vacancy in a nursery school or granting a residence permit to a spouse who is a foreigner. The system must adapt to the changed behaviour of the people, not try to adapt the people to the system.”
The process of finding a slot in a nursery school is complex. I’ve tried to figure out how it has happened that in a state where one in 10 persons are unemployed, and the government is providing parental renmeration to encourage baby making, it is a challenge to procure for one’s offspring a convenient spot in an uncrowded nursery school.
Mean jealous people, living in a rigid system that does not adapt to their interests. Doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, does it? To make things worse, droves of women are leaving the state to settle with foreign men, some of whom are quite swarthy. Women’s magazines celebrate the phenomenon in every other issue. Nothing sours the gullet of a proud Estonian more than to see the flower of Marjamaa under the creeping arm of some guy who wouldn’t know Vahur from Vahukoor.
Foreigners! Stealing all the good Estonian women! Eating all the good Estonian food! Breathing up all the good Estonian air! (Thank you, David Chappelle) And that’s not all. There’s also the trouble of municipal and regional government reform. We yearn for some Päts-like dictator to rise from the misty bogs and run all the backwater politicians out of their sinecures, cutting Estonia’s regional governments to reasonable size. Out of many, four. None of this voluntary reform. No. Make it simple! Põhja, Ida, Lõuna, Lääne. North, East, South, West. Four regions. There you are. Tehtud. Jõgevamaa, it was swell knowing you …
I went to the supermarket looking to get some books on nursery schools or regional government reform, but all I found were some Minu series books and a new thick treatise on the life and times of Harald Nugiseks. Nugiseks is 90 years old and his claim to fame is that the Nazis awarded him the Knight’s Cross in 1944. I would like to meet Mr. Nugiseks. Seems like he has stories to tell. I even saw an image of him in a magazine flanked by two other aged Estonian women, the trio smiling, as if he was still getting play for earning that Knight’s Cross all those years ago.
I always wonder who buys the Nazi merchandise for sale in Estonian supermarkets. It’s not officially packaged as such, but let’s just say if you laid it out in your nearest Duane Reade in New York City, you’d be in hot water with the Anti-Defamation League. But there it is. The compact disc of old fight songs. The SS recruitment poster calendars. The Nugiseks coffee table book. None of it showcases any overt allegiance to the Führer. The calendars invoke the fatherland, as in Estonia, not Germany. It does annoy me though. How much of my life have I wasted on the Internet defending this country from detractors, only to be greeted in the supermarket by some commemorative book about a Nazi war hero?
Nugiseks, like the other SS vets, claims to have been fighting for Eesti in enemy uniform. I won’t question his explanation. Still, those were the Führer’s uniforms. Those were the Führer’s military decorations. But, whatever. It’s Europe. If you can buy Mussolini aprons in Rome, you can buy a Harald Nugiseks coffee table book in Viljandi. In the meantime, how’s that municipal reform going? Found a nursery school spot? How’s that 13th guy in Estonia making out? Damn shame about Davy Jones, right?
The more time I spend in Europe, the more I feel like some hopeless partisan on the front in the Spanish Civil War. On my right are the Falange, the CEDA, the Alfonsists and the Carlists. On my left, the Basque and Catalan nationalists, the CNT/FAI and UGT unions,
the Civil Guard and the international brigades. Everybody claims to be fighting for a better future. It’s a tough fight. Looming over me is the ghost-like figure of Ilves in the clouds, the soul of New Europe. He has a laptop in one hand and a bundle of birch branches in the other. And he is asking everyone Mis meist saab? Mis meist saab?
What will become of us?