Sa, 2.12.2023

Editorial: understanding heavy metal

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Photo: Urmas Nemvalts

Neither Europe nor the world itself aren’t what they used to be during the final years that Lennart Meri was with us. «It’s the war drums sounding again,» said a veteran Finnish diplomat Jaakko Iloniemi, former ambassador to the US, in the conclusive lecture of Lennart Meri Conference – the 7th of its kind.  «We are told that national borders drawn randomly and unfairly are redrawn. But what would the European map look like if one European nation after the other would raise a battle cry declaring that they have been unfairly treated, that they also have suffered?»

The traditional Lennart Meri Conference this past weekend was originally dedicated to Mare Nostrum – «our sea», and to the security and the place in the world of Northern Europe.  The reality, of course, rolled over the agenda like a tank – whatever was discussed was deeply coloured by the haunting aggression of Russia in Ukraine. The surrounding reality made participants talk about Finland and Sweden edging towards NATO – as a tangible reality, no longer a hypothetical option. Moved by the reality, a NATO general Ben Hodges talked about military exercise no longer against an imaginary foe, but to turn back an invasion by Russia. Stirred by the realities of today, a bright thinker in Estonian diplomacy, Jüri Luik our ambassador in Moscow, was touching upon the new normal i.e. the world order under construction, based on use of force more than on international rules and probably spotted by more grey areas than before. «Democratic, liberal values will be under constant threat,» warned Mr Luik.

Quite significantly, yesterday’s conference having talked the theory of security, today 150 US soldiers are arriving into Estonia, of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Italy, touching down at the Ämari Air Base. The unit in question is of remarkable history. For instance, the predecessors of our guests have waged war in very Vietnam.US troops arriving in the Baltics and Poland is no everyday affair. Serving to underline our changed security environment, even more that the altered focus and emphasis of the Lennart Meri Conference.  

As stated by Commander of Estonian Defence Forces, Major General Riho Terras at the said conference: «Russia understands heavy metal.» Meaning force... not cyber force, but armoured force. And: for Russia, neutrality does not exist. «You’re with us or against us. Every nation, at the Baltic Sea or elsewhere, ought to consider that.»