With Russia but without Estonia

Just sellise pealkirja all avaldas Ungari Rahvusassamblee väliskomisjoni esimees Zsolt Németh (pildil) oma arvamuse Ungari ajalehes "Magyar Hírlap". Toon selle siinkohal ära tõlgituna inglise keelde, sest üheks ajendiks tema loole ja ka avalikele pressiavaldustele sai siinse blogipidaja arvamus Saranski soome-ugri festivali poliitilise osa kohta.

Mul oli hea meel täna lugeda ka endise hea kolleegi Toomas Alatalu arvamust SL Õhtulehest. Olgugi, et mõnes küsimuses ma Toomasega ei nõustu, on just sisuline arutelu ja diskussioon see, mis tihti on puudu meie välispoliitilises diskursuses. Täna tuli samal teemal rääkida ka Moscow Times'i ajakirjanikuga, kes samuti võtab teema üles sellel nädalal.

Siin aga siis Z. Nemethi arvamus:

"Let us have a look at the bare facts. On Thursday, 19 July 2007, Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen, and the Prime Minister of Hungary, Ferenc Gyurcsány will meet in the Mordovian Saransk. The meeting will be held as part of the Finno-Ugric peoples’ festival and is considered a Finno-Ugric summit. However, the president of the third largest Finno-Ugric nation, the president of the independent, European Union- and NATO-member Estonia has not been invited to the meeting. It is common knowledge that there has been some fierce debate between Estonia and Russia in recent times and relations are not very smooth. The Chairman of Parliamentary Commission on European Affairs, Marko Mihkelson has recently used very sharp words in his criticism of this “negligence”, making it certain that international publicity will closely monitor the Finno-Ugric summit held without the participation of Estonia.

Estonian isolation

The antecedents that have led to the summit are certainly worth a closer look. Initially a Finland-Russia summit was expanded to make a Finno-Ugric meeting but with the additional participation of one country only: Hungary. And this is where we arrive at our first dilemma: when Russia organises a Finno-Ugric summit with the participation of Finland and Hungary and without Estonia, does then Russia really wish to strengthen the cultural heritage of the Finno-Ugric peoples, or rather use diplomacy to isolate and humiliate Estonia, and teach the small country good manners? Something tells me the objective is this latter. Perhaps I am not the only one thinking this and there must also be other people in the Hungarian foreign ministry that have come to see through this not so complicated strategy. At least this was suggested by one of the state secretaries of the Foreign Ministry when, in his reaction to a question before the National Assembly, he launched out into explanations and “assured” everyone that the ministry would be seeking consultations before the meeting with Tallinn to prevent any uncalled for speculations. Our Estonian relatives and friends, our EU- and NATO-allies will certainly be loud in their praises when seeing this “brave” gesture and display of unconditional solidarity.

But the situation is not that funny. Not funny because Hungary is once more being used. It voluntarily becomes a means in a strategy whose aim is to divide the European Union and NATO. Moscow nowadays believes that a weak EU and NATO serves her strategic purposes better, therefore Moscow will exalt some one day while precipitate others the next with the underlying aim of dividing; but before we get angry with Russia, let us make one thing clear: Moscow could not play such games that easily if it did not have partners. However, Moscow does have partners. Think about Gerhard Schröder, who is the anti-US, pro-Russia leader of the largest economic power of Europe one week, then one of the leaders of Gazprom the next. And there is another government that somehow always becomes part of this see-saw: and that is the government of Ferenc Gyurcsány.

Obvious trend

Let us see the list. Russia wishes to increase her influence most by investments in the energy sector. For this reason it is in her very interest to frustrate projects that are based on security-policy considerations and could facilitate the construction of alternative energy supply routes in the vulnerable Central and Eastern European region. And in a situation such as this, who was the prime minister that called the European Union’s project a dream and opted for Russia’s Blue Stream? It was Ferenc Gyurcsány. Five sovereign NATO-members, the US, Great Britain, Denmark, Poland, and the Czech Republic decide to build a missile defence system to fill an existing vacuum in security policies and offer it up for NATO. Although military experts undeniably demonstrate that the system does not threaten Russia, Moscow still starts objecting. And who was the Prime Minister that questioned the need for such a system in the Moscow News? It was Ferenc Gyurcsány. A Russian dissident, who also happened to be a British citizen, was murdered in London. The British investigation is pointing to a Russian agent. Moscow is reluctant to satisfy the demand for extradition. Great Britain then wanted a common EU-declaration on the grounds that what had happened in London, can also happen anywhere else. Whose prime minister’s foreign administration was unable to give a response to the EU- and NATO-ally Great Britain for weeks? It was Ferenc Gyurcsány’s. The EU- and NATO member-state Estonia removed a statue from the main square of its capital and erected it in a cemetery. In response, Russia broke into the computer system of the Estonian government, stopped railway oil deliveries, put the country’s Moscow Embassy under siege, and incited people to paint the city of Tallinn red. Which prime minister’s foreign minister was talking about the responsibility of Estonians under the given circumstances? It was Ferenc Gyurcsány’s. The Ahtisaari plan offering a solution to the Kosovo crisis seems to be hanging in the air because of Russia’s veto in the UN. Who was the rime minister that had nothing relevant to say about the issue? It was Ferenc Gyurcsány. It is an underlying principle in NATO that the security risk posed by Soviet secret service inherited from the past must be constantly reduced in the secret services of Central and Eastern European member states. Who is the prime minister that called back an “old fighter” who learned the profession at the Moscow Dzerzhinsky Academy between 1982 and 1987 from his pension to head the Hungarian Secret Services? It was Ferenc Gyurcsány.

Voluntarily and singing

Now Hungary’s participation in the summit fits nicely into this trend. Yes, Hungary takes part in the isolation and humiliation of Estonia voluntarily and signing; and by doing so it helps reduce the cohesion within international organisations by the delusion of an EU and NATO member-state. This reduces the effectiveness of these international organisations, namely the EU and NATO whose operability and functionality are the preconditions for balanced international relations in our times, what is more, they are practically the token of Hungarian citizens’ security and reasonable living standards. Let there be no mistake about it! A commendable Russian-Hungarian summit is always well-received because maintaining good relations with Russia is in our very interest. Just as there would be nothing wrong with a consultation between the leaders of Hungary, Finland, and Russia. The problem is when these three countries bring about a Finno-Ugric summit without the inclusion of the Estonian leader as this act goes beyond the building of relations and the protection of the identities and interests of Finno-Ugric peoples.

Let us not have illusions: with his latest move, Ferenc Gyurcsány further deepens the process that overshadows Hungary’s Euro-Atlantic image. And when a pro-government daily will once again talk about “Fidesz’s international campaign to discredit their political opponent” in its leading cover page article, it may be worthwhile to inform the journalist in good time of what put Ferenc Gyucsány in this situation. Was it “naughty” Fidesz? No. It was Ferenc Gyurcsány’s narrow-minded vanity coupled with the waning immunity of the foreign affairs administration crippled by the Prime Minister in the better-case scenario. In the worse-case scenario, however, the trend is not mere coincidence, but part of a well constructed scheme. But if that is the case, the trouble is much greater than we would think."


Veiko Spolitis ütles …
Lugedes Nemeth Zsolti arvamuse lopposa viimaseid lauseid: And when a pro-government daily will once again talk about “Fidesz’s international campaign to discredit their political opponent” in its leading cover page article, tahes tahtmata tomban sarnaseid paraleele Laetiga. Vahe Ungari ja Laeti vhel on vaid see, et Laeti peaminister, parlamendi esimees ja valitsuseliit ysnagi irooniliselt Fideszi asemel syydistab ungari paeritolu Goerge Sorosi ja Laeaene "vogustikke"... . Ja lisaks, ka UNgari ja Laeti majandused on hullema kaekaeiguga majandused EL'is...
Marko Mihkelson ütles …
Siin eilne teemakohane artikkel The Moscow Times'is:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007.
Issue 3701. Page 1.

Putin Snubs Estonia at a Festival in Saransk

By Nikolaus von Twickel

Staff Writer

President Vladimir Putin will play host to the leaders of Finland and Hungary at a Finno-Ugric festival in Saransk on Thursday. But the leader of Estonia -- the only other Finno-Ugric country in the world -- has not been invited.

Putin will attend the 3 p.m. opening of the "Shumbrat, Finno-Ugria" festival with Finnish President Tarja Halonen and Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany in the city's sports arena and then walk with them along the Saranka River, diplomats said Tuesday. The foreign guests will leave Saransk, the capital of Mordovia, 630 kilometers east of Moscow, in the evening.

Various Finnic regions have held festivals over the years, but this is the first time that Putin will participate and host foreign leaders.

Putin extended an invitation to Halonen during a Russia-EU summit in Finland last fall, apparently in a gesture of gratitude for hosting the summit. A diplomatic source said Gyurcsany was invited later.

But the Estonian political leadership, which is embroiled in a bitter dispute with Moscow, has been sidelined. The Baltic nation's highest representative in Saransk will be the cultural attache of the Estonian Embassy in Moscow, diplomats said.

Estonian politicians said this was another attempt by the Kremlin to drive a wedge between EU member states. "It seems quite obvious that the people who wrote the invitations did not just forget Estonia but left it out on purpose," Marko Mihkelson, chairman of the Estonian parliament's EU committee, said by telephone from Tallinn.

Mihkelson said he welcomed Putin's interest in the Finno-Ugric people, but it was hard to overlook Estonia since Hungary, Finland and Estonia were the only three Finno-Ugric countries other than Russia.

"This is not just about a cultural festival," he said. "This is also about unity and solidarity within the European Union and how to deal with Russia in general."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was dismissive about the absence of Estonia's leader. "Finland and Hungary are the two countries that have showed a great interest in the life of the Finno-Ugric people in Russia and with whom we have an intensive dialogue," he said.

He also said the two countries had great economic potential.

Peskov would not elaborate on why Estonia was not invited.

Mihkelson earlier called on Halonen to decline the invitation.

Estonia angered Russia earlier this year by relocating a Soviet war memorial in Tallinn, and a war of words has followed. (Related story, Page 5.)

The three-day festival will be attended by more than 30 delegates, among them cultural representatives from Estonia, Finland and Hungary and Finnic-speaking regions like Karelia, Marii-El, Udmurtia and Komi, Regnum.ru reported.

No official program was available, and Peskov said merely that the leaders would discuss trade issues and EU relations. Embassy sources said that after the opening ceremony, Putin and his guests would visit specially constructed ethnic huts on the bank of the Saranka River and eat dinner at an authentic Finno-Ugric village.

Mordovia is home to two distinct Finnic tribes, the Moksha and Erzya. Although both speak considerably different dialects, they are often grouped together as Mordvins. Fewer than 300,000 people speak Moksha, and roughly 440,000 speak Erzya, according to the linguistic database Ethnologue.com.

Finnish and Hungarian both belong to the Finno-Ugric language group, which itself is a member of the Uralic language family.
KT ütles …
loodan, et sa tänasid kolleeg Nemethi't selle loo eest?
Marko Mihkelson ütles …
Zsolt on tõesti hea kolleeg ning ka selles küsimuses oleme tihedalt suhelnud ning informatsaiooni vahetanud.

Muide, veel üks tänane teemakohane uudis Associated Pressilt:

Putin hosts leaders at Finno-Ugric festival, Estonian leaders not invited

2007-07-19 15:36:28 -

SARANSK, Russia (AP) - President Vladimir Putin reached out to Russia's multitude of ethnic groups as he hosted the leaders of Finland and Hungary on Thursday at an elaborate festival to celebrate Finno-Ugric culture.
But in an apparent snub over the relocation of a World War II memorial to Russian war dead, the leaders of Estonia _ the only other nation that uses a Finno-Ugric language _ were not invited.
«Every people, even the smallest ethnic group, mrust feel comfortable in Russia, they must feel that this is their home and that they have no other home and will have no other home,» Putin said after an opening ceremony that featured hundreds of swirling dancers in bright red, yellow and blue ethnic tunics. Putin was flanked at the ceremony by Finnish President Tarja Halonen and Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany.
«In Russia we always have and always will give the most serious attention to the development of national cultures,» he said.
Russia has seen a marked rise in xenophobia and racism in recent years, with frequent attacks on people from the former Soviet republics in Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as members of ethnic minorities within Russia, and Jews.
Saransk, 630 kilometers (nearly 400 miles) east of Moscow, is the capital of the Russian region of Mordovia, which is home to two Finnic tribes _ the Moksha and Erzya. There are 13 Finno-Ugric speaking ethnic groups in Russia, encompassing some 2.7 million people.
In the first event of its kind to see such high-level attendance, Putin held talks before the opening with Halonen and was slated to hold a three-way meeting with Gyurcsany later in the day.
«I suspect they didn't just forget that Estonia is one of the three Finno-Ugric countries outside Russia. It seems that this is politically motivated and another step in the cooling of Russian-Estonian relations,» Marko Mihkelson, chairman of the Estonian parliament's EU committee, told the Associated Press.
While he welcomed Putin's attendance at the festival, Mihkelson said he was wary of the Kremlin's motives for the meeting, and said that by excluding Estonia Russia appeared to be trying to complicate relations between the EU members.
«On many different occasions we see the approach of Russia to break the unity in the EU to find different issues that make it hard for EU countries to agree,» he said.
A spokesman for the Kremlin was not immediately available for comment.
Already tense relations between Russia and Estonia plummeted to a new low after the Estonian government removed a war grave and an adjacent Soviet monument from downtown Tallinn in April.
Moscow condemned the move, and members of the Baltic country's Russian-speaking minority staged protests that degenerated into street riots that left one dead and more than 100 injured.
For Russians, the so-called Bronze Soldier monument and the war grave signified the enormous human sacrifice the Soviet Union made in defeating Nazi Germany. Ethnic Estonians, however, regard the monument as a symbol of five decades of Soviet occupation and totalitarian rule that ended with Estonian independence in 1991.
Russia has drawn fire in the past over its treatment of Finno-Ugric speaking minorities.
In May 2005 European Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution proposed by Baltic, Hungarian and Finnish lawmakers that criticized the treatment of the Mari who live in the central Russian autonomous republic of Mari El.
The resolution deplored what it described as a lack of equal rights for Mari language and culture in the small territory west of the Ural Mountains, where Russians are the largest ethnic group.
The Russian Foreign Ministry retorted angrily, saying that the resolution was aimed at distracting attention from discrimination against the large ethnic Russian minorities in the Baltic states of Latvia and Estonia.

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