The Estonians do it, too, but the British are the worst … £69 to Europe!” says the airline advertisement in Victoria Station … Terrific, but aren’t we in Europe, already? Is this some kind of scam? £69 to remain standing in place? … How can the British look at themselves in the mirror and believe that they are somehow less European than the Swedes or the Danes or the Dutch, or any other Northern European kingdom ruled by inbred monarchies from dank castles? And this at a time when PM Cameron’s eurosceptic tory backbenchers are in revolt … I’ve heard the Estonians tell odd tales of travels to “Europe,” which in the local imagination combines the canals of Venice with the banking streets of Switzerland and other assorted landmarks (La Tour Eiffel, British Houses of Parliament, Spanish Bullfighting) … too bad that they don’t realize that Estonia is a lot like East Anglia… EUROPE … Look at the map, it starts over here and runs to over here, you’re it, and there’s no escaping it …

26 thoughts on “zooropa

  1. zooropa? Russian influence, much? Just moved back to Estonia and you can really feel it. It's everywhere. Got my TV sorted the other day, and when I had to choose my channels, out of 70 odd 20 are Russian and you can't opt out! My partner was like, in Britain this would never be allowed! lol. Have to block these now as adult channels, as it's really irritating to flick through the channels and they keep popping up.

    Also in shops, there's so much Russiab merchandise, it's beyond belief. Its as if we're back in the USSR! We really need to get a grip on this one.

    Sometimes it feels as when some people say that Estonia should just be Estonia and NOT copy the West. But there's a major error in that logic, as the Russian cultural and economic machine is at full swing in Estonia these days, as it is apparent to all. You need to pick a side, there is not going to be just the “Estonian way”. That's the sad truth.

    Estonians wouldn't use terms like “zooropa”, unless their brainwashed or heavily influenced by the “Eastern” neighbour.


  2. But you actually have a point in this. Estonians are very similar to the British. The term ” Good old England”, actually has got it's roots in the term “Good old Livland”. And if Landeswher would have succeeded and created The Great Baltic Duchy, that country indeed would have looked and felt a lot like United Kingdom. Only downside being, we would all be having this conversation in German though, lol.


  3. Brits still live in a post imperial age filled with nostalgy of good old times, when the size of the influence from this small island reached out far globally. Times when Europe was a less significant neighbour to look down to from the mighty mount of the British empire…


  4. From Estonian perspective you are right, Remka. But if you look at Britains position globally, you couldn't be more wrong. If you think of Britain, you should also consider the Commonwealth and the Anglican Church, also British Army, especially the RAF.Europe, is a different story. Brits are islanders, and like our islanders would survive if continental Estonia would close the border; Brits will also do just fine without Europe. Europe needs Britain, whereas Britain is in position to pick and choose. And some Europeans find this concept difficult to process.


  5. No, no, no … Britain is PART of Europe. “Europe” predates the institutions of the EU, and Britain has developed similarly to the other parts of Europe. The British people's discussion of “Europe,” as if they were some how distinct from it, is a delusion.

    Denmark's not dissimilar. They had a (much smaller) empire. Well, actually, Greenland is still pretty huge. They are a euroskeptic island nation, too. They didn't opt to join the eurozone. But I don't think the Danes imagine Europe as something of which they are not part. If Britain and Denmark are not part of Europe, then Europe does not exist.


  6. Marko,

    Do you live in Tallinn now? As you probably are aware, 47% of the population of Tallinn has Russian as its native language. So it is normal that the Russian cultural and economic influence there is so strong. I don't say that this is desirable but don't you have to learn to live with it? Or should there, apart from language legislation, also be laws that prohibit displays of 'Russianness', or that limit trade links between Estonia and Russia? How would that work in practice?
    Also, trying to force people against their will to change their identity has in practice often the result of strengthening their sense of identity.


  7. Tallinn feels a lot more cosmopolitan today than it did 10 years ago. When I walk in the shopping malls, I see every kind of human being imaginable, and many of them reside there.

    That has had, in my opinion, a positive effect on the “ethnic situation” there, considering the Russian you meet on the street is quite likely to be a tourist!

    If we bring history into play, Tallinn was founded as a Danish merchant city. That's always been its identity. People come and go, but they adapt to the city. It's not unlike London, in a way.


  8. Oh no, Temetsa. I have nothing against the Russian people, their country or language. What bothers me, is that Elion is so cocky about their service. They charge a fortune, and half of what they give me is usless. Shouldn't it be that you pay for what you want? I told them that thanks but none of us really follows Russian affairs and can barely understand the language so please remove these from our package and adjust our bills accordingly. But they refused. And it's strange.

    And no, I don't stay in Tallinn at the moment. I live in Viljandi, where I'm originally from. And its like half the stuff in supermarkets is Russian in origin. Sweets, pickles, tinned stuff etc. Some cheaper chains even lay out their stores as if it's Russia here – the stuff is just chucked on top of the shelves, theres no system on how to find stuff, they don't even take coke bottles out of the transportation crates!! I worked in retail in Viljandi some 10 years ago and shops used to be very well organized, just like in Britain. Something's gone terribly wrong in recent years.


  9. Or maybe it's just the sun and heat that makes me so moody and irritable. Not used to European summers anymore, and have grown to the British approach of enjoying a sunny day – it's lovely to sit in the shade! 🙂

    I'll just visit different supermarkets, Rimi is rather nice, and will make a favourites list on my TV and ignore the other stuff ( I'm still pay for the unwanted channels, mind you, with my hard earned cash).

    And life's still a flower! 🙂


  10. Marko,

    Why do you subscribe to cable at all? Everything you ever needed is streamed nowadays. Get Netflix or smth similar. I have a cable only because it cost me like 10–20$ as a side perk to my high speed internet. I could go without it. I am not endorsing any of the advertisers on cable for whose ad time I am forced to pay with my subscription. That and the odd lineup of channels. It's all a wash to me. I think cable as it is today is a dying business model. People will get what they want and the first provider who will do that will own the market. That time is coming soon. I am sure.


  11. I think we still have that phrase in Finland too – I would not be totally surprised to find it in Sweden also (and would not think of Sweden as “Europe” in that context). “Europe” has to do with Paris, Berlin, Rome, Prague and Budapest, such places, on the continent. London is something else, so is Moscow, and Scandinavia and, well, near-Scandinavia…


  12. Oh, Temetsa, it's a strange feeling. It feels homely but somehow different. It's been nearly 10 years and I suppose things have changed, both me and Estonia. It'll take some time to get used to. You mentioned you stay in Tartu now, do you prefer it over Valga? Still Lõuna Eesti, though, hip hip 🙂 !


  13. When I get to Estonia in June I will be even more confused than I am now. Will I be in Europe or on the edge of great bogland filled with Russian Trolls looking for their heritage in the potholed streets of the lord knows where.

    I guess when I see you people in the street you will no doubt touch your forelock and wonder what you are meeting. Is this a European or is this some other humanoid?


  14. I prefer to live in Tartu. Although we also stay in Valga often, I couldn´t stay there permanently, too quiet. Maybe when I am older, but then I would prefer the real countryside. But it is an interesting place with a rich history and special atmosphere, difficult to describe, and it is full of decay, too much decay even for me.


    Tartu is just perfect. Not so big, but there is a lot going on, nice bars, enough culture, and it is a beautiful city.


  15. I never even been to Valga, but I used to know people who were from there. I visit Tartu often, maybe we should meet up for a pint, one day. Good to hear that you enjoy living here. 🙂


  16. Marko, good luck living in Estonia!

    Keep up us updated on your observations.

    My brother who tried to live in Estonia for about 4 years is taunting me – go live there for a year or two, then come tell me what you think … and he is smug about it. As if I won't last there for long. I have no idea. He says it is different to go visit and party versus actually living there.



  17. Cheers, LPR!

    Do you mind me asking, but does your brother keep his distance? I mean some schemy people like to hug up to people who are not really sure where they stand. And when you get involved you might find yourself drawn in to all sorts, til you get sick of it and might think that starting somewhere new, is the best way forward. I must admit, it is a lot easier to keep yourself to yourself in a foreign country. But it's not too difficult in Estonia either, just be yourself.


  18. “When I walk in the shopping malls, I see every kind of human being imaginable, and many of them reside there.”
    Most of them are tourists, and not at all local residents.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s