Maailma Vaade 16 eng

Page 1

16 2012

The Estonian parliament’s role in shaping foreign policy 2,000-year-old Iran China: image and reality “Arab summer” in Jordan Population growth in North Africa and Turkey

Värske vaade maailma


patterns that have been in place for thousands of years, above all the hierarchies and equilibriums in human society. The question this raises in the context of international relations is quite a fundamental one: how will these changes affect the relations between countries (civilizations, cultures, continents)?

Immortality lies just over the horizon… projectiles can soon be controlled telepathically… invisibility is possible… human skin can be made bullet-proof... the genome’s lock can be picked… genetic modification can give people pan-immunity – these are just a sprinkling of the headlines from the world of science. It would appear we are on the threshold of unprecedented scientific and technological breakthroughs. They could turn many of our traditional understandings on their head and change societal

Drawing on history, we can argue that previous breakthroughs in science and technology did not fundamentally change the behavioural patterns of countries. The focus is still on national interests. Of course, the nature of these interests has changed over time, and the battle is no longer over dynastic succession or monarchic prestige. The existence or absence of interests and needs dictates whether influential countries will intervene in a given place. It also determines what and whom smaller countries appeal to for securing their place in the sun and what and whom they try to avoid at all cost.

as humanity’s knowledge and skills enter a new age is actually a question of whether science in the palpable future will make the world better, safer, freer and fairer. In spite of the discoveries waiting to be made, there is no reason for excessive optimism. The conventional wisdom that countries always become richer and the poor poorer seems unshakeable. Immortality and panaceas may be achieved, but at least in the near future they will be available to only the few or the very rich. It may be possible to cloak people in invisibility and make skin bullet-proof, but the dizzying price of such technologies will allow only the elite forces of the wealthiest countries to use them. But still: the world is far from finished. And like a train passing stations, international relations continue their ceaseless progress from one event to the next. 

The question of whether there will be major changes in international relations

George Friedman, The Next 100 Years Predicting the course of international events is a risky business. The variables that go into a 100% accurate prediction are simply too many. Yet it is only human to try to divine the future, perhaps basic survival instinct has a part to play in this. US think-tank Stratfor founder and moving force George Friedman has put his vision of the future between the covers of The Next 100 Years, which is now available in Estonian as well through Ersen publishers. Friedman makes no bones about the fact that his view is American-centric. In fact a main theme is persuading the reader that the true American era is not ending but yet to come. True, he does plot out a number of conflicts and obstacles that the US will have to surmount if it is to emerge victorious, culminating in World War III in the middle of the 21st century. After the war, a new golden era dawns, and this is the peak of the American age. Once again, however, the country finds itself mired in conflicts and problems, this time in its relations with Mexico.


Other than the WWIII scenario, which seems more literary than analytical, The Next 100 Years deserves serious consideration for its analysis and predictions of the future of the current powers. Naturally Friedman’s ideas on the future of Russia have special interest for Estonia. The gist is the following: Russia will not be able to resist the temptation – if only due to geopolitics – to start restoring its empire on the territory of the former Soviet Union. This will inevitably lead to a deepening standoff with the Baltics and Poland. The US cannot withdraw support for the Baltics, as sacrificing these (by themselves insignificant) countries would set off panic in Central Europe, where the US has longstanding geopolitical interests at stake. Russia’s ageing population, weak economic, territorial fragmentation, disproportion spending aimed at remilitarization and many other factors lead to the country’s crumbling in 2020. To protect themselves from the threats stemming from the chaos in that direction, its neighbours are forced to take decisive action and take control of Russia’s peripheral regions. Among

other things, Poland establishes direct control over Belarus, while Estonia would have to occupy St. Petersburg. In the foreword, the author says he has no crystal ball and will likely not live so long to see which of his predictions come true and which prove false. Be that as it may. Anyone interested in international relations will find reading this book – and thinking along similar lines, critiquing or agreeing with the author’s arguments – exciting as a purely intellectual exercise. And that is a worthy result. 

The Estonian parliament’s role in shaping foreign policy Interview with PhD Mart Nutt Interviewer: Anneli Kivisiv In December 2011 you defended your doctorate on a topic very familiar to you as a longstanding member of the Riigikogu, as you have served five consecutive terms and foreign policy is one of your main fields. How difficult or easy was it to write your dissertation due to your background? In general, the principle is not to start research if you don’t know your source material. I certainly knew very well what source material I would be able to obtain and where. All of my interviews were conducted with people I know personally. No one feared that I would take advantage of them in the political arena; they understood that it was a research paper. It would have doubtless been much harder for an outsider. The pure heft of your paper is intimidating even for a doctoral dissertation – over 300 pages.. A very large part of it consists of analysis of the development of the competence of the Riigikogu as an institution. Why such a choice? To analyze foreign policy competence, I had to work through parliamentary documentation in its entirety, because foreign relations are also part of the work of the Riigikogu. If I hadn’t performed a thorough analysis of how the competence developed, the number of pages would have been far fewer. But it isn’t possible to select Riigikogu transcripts and minutes by categorizing only some of them as foreign policy-related. Only through analyzing the entire activity of parliament can the foreign policy aspects – actually a relatively small part of the work of the Riigikogu – be explored. Foreign policy is a continuation of domestic policy. The state is paramount, it deals with its affairs and foreign relations support it. The competence and activity of parliament in foreign relations has been very important to the restoration and con-

solidation of Estonia’s independence, restoring foreign relations and accession to international organizations. The Riigikogu has dealt with topics related to the Estonian-Russian border treaty, which is a key factor for stimulating (economic) relations between Estonia and Russia and improving Estonia’s investment climate. The activity of the Riigikogu in the process of European Union accession is very important. Thus the Riigikogu is extremely important in Estonian economic, political and social life and besides its historical background and current state, the future dimension is also important as it gives an idea of what type of government Estonia is developing toward. Democracy and parliamentarism are in constant development and the rapid changes in the international environment lead to inevitable changes in the Estonian model of government. The role of the parliament in the process of making decisions may increase, decrease or stay the same, but it can also become transmuted due to diversification of decision-making levels. In the domestic context, these factors are elements of direct democracy – that is, how representative democracy is related to further development of civil society – and the balance of the legislative, executive and judiciary. Traditionally, popular initiative and referendum have been elements of direct democracy. Both have served as part of Estonia’s state decisionmaking mechanism. The current constitutional system does recognize popular initiative, but such issues and initiatives are raised regularly in Estonia. Referendums in Estonia’s system of governance are currently decidedly centred on the Riigikogu, as only parliament may adopt the decision to hold a referendum. Yet unlike in many other European democracies, a decision to hold a referendum is binding for government bodies. But it has not always been so, and time and again the question arises: shouldn’t it be possible to hold a referendum as the

initiative of some other authority – the president, cabinet, or the citizenry? Ratification of foreign agreements at referendum is not allowed under the current Constitution, but this can be amended. A referendum on foreign policy orientation has already been held in Estonia (for accession to the European Union) and in principle it is not out of the question that other such choices of orientation would be made at referendum. All this puts the Riigikogu’s competence in foreign relations in a new light. There are also other instruments of direct democracy. A rapidly developing civil society means many different interest groups – associations, NGOs, trade unions etc – have increased influence on representative bodies. Already now, public opinion has a strong impact on the decisions of the Riigikogu and the government, including in foreign relations. In future, the impact of civil society on these decisions will only grow. The political competence of the cabinet is changing. In a globalizing world, decisions must be made quickly and in a quality manner. In particular, this goes for foreign policy decisions. From this perspective it is easy to criticize traditional parliamentarism as slow and cumbersome and depict the process of mak-




A rally held on 13 August 2008 on Tallinn’s Freedom Square in memory of those killed in the Georgia-Russia war. The speaker is Mart Nutt.

ing decisions in Estonia as not in step with today’s requirements. It encourages the government to do whatever it wants and allows it to push the legislature aside. Making decisions in the EU and NATO also requires the government to act efficiently. And these decisions involve the topics of state secrets and international security, the Riigikogu is left out of many decisions to which it was thus far party. Parliament does not necessarily lose its right to access state secrets, but centralized decision-making and the need for rapid reaction time mean that it will only learns of it after the fact. An analysis of the foreign relations competence of parliament and government should help show whether the changes are in conformity with the principles of parliamentary government and how far the trend can go. What is political competence? In fact there are two main types of competence in government – legal and political competence. Legal competence arises from the Constitution, legislation and international legal


acts. The constitution governs the competence of government institutions in different fields, as well as the official duties of the Riigikogu and government and the distribution of their duties, and the decision-making mechanism and hierarchy of decisions, including in foreign policy and international relations. The function of legislation is to further refine the Constitution. International legal acts include conventions, treaties, operating principles of international organizations and the like. Legal competence takes the form of institutional competence, including distribution of competence of the legislative and executive branches. Political competence is related to ingrained operating modes (traditions, customs), covering the performance of everyday duties and division of labour. Political competence does not stem from institutional position in government. Political competence is impacted by the public’s trust in parliament and the cabinet as well as the readiness of the civil service to take into account the principles of public opinion, the legislature and civil society. In the legal sense, the

president is the Estonian head of state and thus the top official, the president of the Riigikogu (speaker) is second and the Prime Minister comes third, but in actuality the chief executive – the prime minister -- has the broadest competence. This is a good example of the great shift in legal and political competence. With regard to shaping foreign policy, it is important to analyze who exercises it and how independent a given body with foreign policy competence is in its activities. Thus competence and power largely coincide in the way in which public authority is organized. A property of legal and political competence is general competence – the capacity to exercise power, and the necessary preparations and means for doing so. In my dissertation, I analyzed the competence of the Riigikogu, the legislative assembly. I dealt with the competence of the cabinet as the executive insofar as it was necessary to analyze the competence of the Riigikogu. The competence of the Riigikogu in foreign relations encompasses legal and


Meeting between the Riigikogu’s Foreign Affairs Committee and a delegation from Finland’s Eduskunta on 25 September 2011.

political competence. The legal competence of the Riigikogu stems directly from legal acts. In other countries – at least in democracies – parliament’s legal competence is determined on the same grounds. Political competence can vary greatly from one country to another, depending on the practice that has developed over time in international relations. The boundary between legal and political competence is not always clearly delineated, and thus disputes may arise from time to time over the competence of different institutions in countries with different legal systems and historical backgrounds. In the practical shaping of political decisions, the ostensibly less important issue of exercise of public authority often becomes central. How has the Riigikogu fared? The Riigikogu has done well. But the importance of the representative body in governance has changed. The role of parliament has been constantly decreasing. In the seventh Riigikogu power was still in the hands of the parliament, but in the ninth Riigikogu, no longer. The reason for the analysis of the ratification of the

Russia-Estonia border treaty and the EU accession was the fact that government had no option of taking action in these cases without the parliament. Because of this, the results were completely different from originally planned. The border treaty is not in force, as the Riigikogu ratified it in a manner that is not acceptable for the Russian Federation, leading the latter to retract its signature in a so-called undiplomatic fashion. In the case of EU accession, the Riigikogu supported the accession with great unanimity and the government did not use “force” to make the parliament bend to its will. Dissent regarding accession occurred more in the government coalition, not the parliament, as one member of the coalition, the Centre Party, split on this issue. The opposition thus decided the issue.

government or foreign ministers get together, they must have a chance to decide things on the spot. It simply is not possible to involve parliament. The Vienna Convention1 says that three persons at the state level – president, prime minister and foreign minister – have the right to sign international agreements without special authorization. No one else has this right. True, parliament can raise challenges to the treaty later on. But in the interim, the agreement is valid. There is an example from the history of the United States where Congress withheld ratification of a treaty. That is the prerogative of the legislature

In your dissertation, you define foreign policy as more the domain of the cabinet, where parliament does not have much of a say.

Perhaps this is partly due to laziness on the part of parliament. If no one asks, no one tells.

In foreign policy, issues must be resolved efficiently, as they arise. Many things are decided at summits, for instance. When two countries’ heads of state, head of

There are less frequent and fewer opportunities of getting an overview of the government’s activities.

Foreign policy was the first field that the Riigikogu started regularly discussing in plenary session. The Foreign Relations Act adopted in 1993² obliged the Riigikogu to discuss foreign policy and




the making of foreign policy at least twice a year in plenary session. In the course of foreign policy discussions, the foreign minister and chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee delivered addresses. The foreign policy discussion requirement was enacted at the initiative of the Riigikogu and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not all that pleased. The Riigikogu assumed that it would become a format through which Parliament would become involved in the making of foreign policy decisions as the need arose. That is not the way things worked out. The discussion turned into the Foreign Minister’s address to the Riigikogu, but the Riigikogu did not enjoy increased opportunity to influence foreign policy as a result. It definitely became a positive practice, but it did not affect competences in any way. In general, foreign relations practice has taken clear shape in parliament and there is no need for changing it. Two facets should be distinguished in foreign relations: the legal side, including treaties and foreign policy statements through which we shape the overall foreign policy doctrine. Through the foreign affairs committee, the Riigikogu essentially has all the opportunity it needs to contribute to shaping foreign policy. Yet there is so much material that the committee is unable to process it all. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs personnel testify regularly before the committee and introduce foreign policy initiatives. There is no other option but to trust the decision of the foreign minister and senior ministry officials on what is important and what is not. It would not serve the best purposes to get a prior endorsement from the foreign affairs committee for treaties. Most treaties are very specific and the cabinet discusses all agreements before signing anyway. Shaping foreign policy is not in anyone‘s sole competence, it is collective work where the initiative comes from many sides. The initiative for entering into treaties and agreements often comes from the foreign party. But parliament does engage directly in foreign policy. But it does. On a good number of levels. There is the OSCE parliamentary assembly, the Inter-Parliamentary Union


A demonstration against the new border treaty between Estonia and the Russian Federation was held on 15 June 2005 outside the Riigikogu during the discussion on the ratification of the controversial agreements. (IPU)³, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and regional associations such as the Council of Baltic Sea States and the Baltic Assembly. I would say that international relations at the parliamentary level is even more important than bilateral intergovernmental relations, as these relations are regular and occur many times a year. Policy is shaped cooperatively and information of mutual interest is exchanged, factions communicate directly with parties who share political views. There is the possibility to have dealings with many legislatures and assemblies without having to travel to the other country with a delegation. To some extent, relations also take place through friendship groups, but friendship

groups receive too little funding in the Riigikogu to organize visits. For this reason, relations take place with those who are interested themselves and pick up part of the expenses, such as the People’s Republic of China. ¹ ² ³

Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. RT I 1993, 72/73, 1020 clause 7 of Section 5. IPU - International Parliamentary Union, which works closely with the UN. 

Mart Nutt’s dissertation “Development of the competence of the Estonian parliament and its application in foreign relations” has been published online in the Tallinn University of Technology Library digital collection, http://digi.lib. 

Steven Van Hecke Christian democracy and conservatism, as ideologies, are less familiar and less clearly defined than socialism, environmentalism, communism or fascism. Apparently journalists, politicians and other voices in politics have a general idea of what, say, ‘socialist family policy’ entails, yet they find it very hard indeed to conceptualise a Christian democratinspired health care system. Some do not consider Christian democracy to be an ideology at all, or define conservatism simply as a striving for or legitimisation of the status quo. Moreover, in the wider context of political de-alignment or ‘deideologisation’, focusing on differentia specifica is perceived to be an obsolete approach. Irrespective of whether such claims are justified, it would seem there is a need in contemporary politics for a better understanding of Christian democratic and conservative thought.1 /---/ 2.1. The New Right and Neoconservatism During the 1970s, and starting in the Anglo-Saxon world, there was renewed interest in conservatism as a political ideology.² This neoconservatism manifested itself politically as the New Right. The phrase New Right was coined by Kevin Phillips, a political publicist and aide to president Richard Nixon, and the author of ‘The Emerging Republican Majority’ (1969). The name was intended to distinguish the new leadership from the ‘Old Right’ leadership of the ‘East Coast’, which had previously dominated the Republican Party. Although neoconservatism and the New Right do not coincide entirely, they are often regarded as exponents of the same ‘movement towards the right’. Likewise, neoconservatism is not entirely synonymous with conservatism, and the New Right, moreover, contains not only conservative but also libertarian elements. Characteristic features of the neoconservatism of the 1970s are its opposition

to communism, its striving for minimal government, a belief in the free market as the key to liberty and progress, its dedication to the traditional moral order and its rejection of ethical libertarianism. In the moral sphere, there is an important role to be played by government. Neoconservatism is opposed primarily to social policy initiatives by the public authorities, arguing instead that private enterprise should play a more significant role in society. A minimal, yet strong State should concern itself exclusively with domestic and international law and order. The New Right is, in very general terms, the political translation of this neoconservatism, although it is more populist and anti-intellectualist, and radicalises the conservative outlook on man and society from a religious (i.e. Christian) perspective. In terms of economic policy, the New Right concurs with neoliberalism, which peaked during the 1980s.³ In the United States, neoconservatism arose as a response to the disappointment with evolutions since the late 1960s. Domestically, the Keynesian New Deal and the Great Society characterised by, among other things, positive discrimination of minorities were criticised, and there was growing protest against the trend of ‘moral disarmament’, i.e. the permissive society, with women’s liberation, environmental and peace movements following in its wake. In the foreign policy field, the debacle of the Vietnam War had left deep traces; there was a full-blown economic crisis to contend with; and the Cold War détente was coming to an end as the arms race seemed set to accelerate. Various conservative intellectuals and politicians were intent on tackling the malaise. From the late 1970s, their dissatisfaction was translated politically into the emergence at the New Right. In Western Europe, and in the United Kingdom in particular, a similar evolution unfolded. May 1968 was, for instance, criticised because of its libertarian character. Certainly in the party-political sphere, there are very clear parallels to be drawn. After the ‘leftist experiments’ of Labour in the UK and the ‘unsuccessful’

Private collection

A reflection on basic principles and ideas of christian democracy and conservatism. The wider context

presidency of Jimmy Carter in the US, the two countries saw the almost simultaneous rise to power of respectively the Conservative Margaret Thatcher and the Republican Ronald Reagan. This ideological revival coincided with resistance from neoconservatism and the New Right against ideology as such. Ideology was, after all, regarded as something ‘of the left’. The anti-ideological discourse of English philosopher Michael Oakeshott (1901-1990) was well-received among neoconservatives.4 More generally, since the publication of ‘Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays’5, Oakeshott is regarded as one of the most significant exponents of conservatism in the 20th century. In this, his magnum opus, Oakeshott lays•bare the shortcomings of rationalist politics and criticises ideological blueprints for reforming society according to supposedly ‘scientific’ or rationalistic principles.6 Such abstract notions ignore the wealth and variety of human experience. From a (neo)conservative point of view, ideology is pernicious, yet, paradoxically, Oakeshott is widely regarded as the ideologist of Anglo-Saxon neoconservatism in the late 1970s. At the beginning of the new millennium, the spotlight is very much on neo-conservatism, a movement whose origins clearly lie in the United States of the late




Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (left), who represents the conservative party Christian Democratic Union, with current Chancellor Angela Merkel at an event dedicated to the 20th anniversary of reunification.

1960s. What is new, however, is that, besides the characteristic laissez faire approach to the economy and limited view of government, security and foreign policy are now also put forward as key concerns. These areas are no longer dominated by Realpolitik and pragmatism, but rather by neo-conservative ideas and principles (idealism, if you will), as has become particularly apparent since the events of 9/11. The Iraq war, for example, was justified primarily on ideological grounds. If nothing else, this change of tack has certainly compelled critics to reflect on which principles should constitute the basis of security and foreign policy.7 2.2. ‘The End of Ideology’ Much like neoconservatism is not entirely new, the ‘endism’ of the early 1990s is, to an extent, a throwback to the 1950s, when the phrase ‘the end of ideology’ was coined. ‘The end of Ideology’ was the title•of a book published in 1960 by Harvard-based sociologist and political


scientist Daniel Bell (1919-).8 Although Bell’s book deals specifically with the America of the 1950s, his thesis was interpreted globally. According to Bell, politics after the Second World War is characterised by a general consensus between the principal political parties and the absence of ideological differences or debate. The great ‘accidents’ of the 20th century have brought political ideologies to exhaustion.9 According to Bell, the humanisation of capitalism, the absence of anti-system opposition and the triumph of the welfare state all point in this direction. In a sense, he expresses a feeling that is shared by broad sections of the American population, intellectuals included. Nonetheless, Bell’s thesis has come in for quite a lot of criticism, especially from the left. He has been accused of legitimising the status quo, of disseminating Cold War propaganda, and of ignoring the shortcomings of Western capitalism, especially in relation to the Third World. Bell is generally regarded to be rightwing, a neoconserva-

tive. Although he denies this, he does believe that ideology is ‘of the left’ and that it is (therefore) objectionable.10 History, including the ‘revival’ of endism, has shown Bell to have been mistaken. The student protests of the 1960s and the rise of such new ideologies as feminism, Third-World nationalism and environmentalism all serve as counterexamples. Still, Bell’s sharp analysis of American society postulates the emergence of a socalled post-industrial society, of which he is invariably regarded as the ideologist. From the late 1980s, and particularly in the 1990s, the discourse on the ‘end of ideology’ was picked up again: in the name of postmodernism, it was argued that all the great ideologies, especially the political ones, had run their course. An influential publication in this debate was ‘The End of History and the Last Man’ (1992), by American philosopher and policy advisor Francis Fukuyama (1952-).11 His book was in fact a popularised elaboration on an article entitled


Journalists in Berlin in front of an advertisement for the Christian Democratic Union during the last elections in 2009, which gave Angela Merkel’s conservatives another term in government.

‘The End of History?’, which he had published in 1989 in the journal The National Interest.12 In this essay, Fukuyama takes a very utilitarian, pragmatic and somewhat tautological approach to political ideology: fascism and communism, he argues, perished because they ‘did not work’, while economic and political liberalism has survived because it is successful. Fukuyama feels the political revolutions of the late 1980s illustrate his thesis. Three years on, after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the implosion of the Soviet Union, Fukuyama had become even more convinced that he was right. Hence he dropped the question mark from the original title. Fukuyama interprets the end of the Cold War in the light of a ‘general history of the world’, the ‘end’ of which is not regarded as a demise, but rather as a completion. In his linear, Hegelian analysis, history is completed in the shape of liberal democracy and the free market. In this ‘posthistorical’ era, all fundamental oppositions have been resolved. All that remains are issues that are limited in time and space and that are therefore resolvable. Fukuyama would continue to defend his thesis up to the attacks of 9/11/2001.13 Despite its success, ‘The End of History’ met with quite a lot of criticism. Like endism in the 1950s, it was, first and foremost, attacked for being (too) proWestern and pro-American. According to the left-leaning version of this criticism,

the combination of a liberal economy and a liberal democracy generates economic inequality, and thus perpetuates certain cultural and societal differences, as well as any associated lack of freedom and/or inequality. The right-wing variant takes aim at the notion of recognition, which occupies a central place in Fukuyama’s book. Fukuyama, unlike Bell, does not present an exposition on ideology. He makes no explicit mention of the ‘end of ideology’, although ‘the end of history’ inevitably has a similar connotation.14 Still, the absence of any explicit reflections on the status of contemporary ideology has not prevented characterisations of the book as ‘ideological’. After all, the West’s triumphalism vis-à-vis the now defunct communism is void of critical analysis of its own democratic and economic liberalism.15 According to critics, the ‘end of ideology’ may therefore itself be regarded as an ideology. This conclusion ties in closely with a second point of criticism: as in the 1950s, the prediction of the ‘end’ of history has failed to materialise. The discourse of ‘endism’ is itself tributary to and an expression of the time and place in which it emerges.16 The end of the great stories is not the end of all stories; it is merely the end of the dominance of a particular ideology or history. The actual passing of history which has seen democratic and economic liberalism subjected to a rapid succession of changes and, moreover, to

unusually fierce attacks, including by the antiglobalist movement has proven lethal for the credibility of Fukuyama’s theory. ‘The End of History’ fitted perfectly into the Zeitgeist of the early 1990s, so that the hype surrounding it was as intense as it was short-lived. 1



See the conclusion and, for instance, the opinion of Hanns Seidel in his Weltanschauung und Politik, cited in H. Möller, ‘Hanns Saidels christliches Menschenbild’, H. Zehetmair (Hrsg.), Politik aus christlicher Verantwortung, 2007, p. 91: “Wir leben in einer direktionslosen Zeit, Es würde zur weiteren Auflösung wohltätiger Bindungen beitragen, wenn die Parteien das einigende Band weltanschaulicher Prinzipien zerreißen und die Menschen auch in dem so umfassenden Wirkungsbereich der praktischen Politik noch mehr einem platte Materialismus preisgeben würden. Eine weltanschauliche Richtschnur ist im Interesse der Parteien selbst wie auch im Interesse der Allgemeinheit wertvoller als die rein technische, von weltanschaulichen Vorstellungen losgelöste Beherrschung der Macht, die sehr wohl ’Staatskunst’ sein kann, die aber ihre Ratschläge in Staatsangelegenheiten allen gibt (...).) The fact that there was indeed a (sudden) revival towards the end of the decade is apparent from the pessimistic predictions about the future of conservatism in the mid-1970s. See for example: N. O’Sullivan, Conservatism, 1976, pp. 119-153. Ch. Funderburk and R.G. Thobaben, Political Ideologies. Left, Center, Right, 1994, p. 144 ff.









A. Heywood, Key Concepts in Politics, 2000. p. 23. M. Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, 1977, 333p. Ibid., p. 58: “Politics is not the science of setting up s permanently impregnable society, it is the art of knowing where to go next in the exploration of an already existing traditional kind of society.” P. Schumaker, From Ideologies to Public Philosophies. An Introduction to Political Theory, 2008, p. 86. D. Bell, The End of Ideology. On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties. 1988, 501 p. Ibid., p. 16: “In the last decade, we have witnessed an exhaustion of the nineteenth-century ideologies, particularly Marxism, as intellectual systems







that could claim truth for their views of the world.” (italics by Bell) Ibid., p. 405: “The end of ideology closes the book, intellectually speaking, on an era, the one of easy ‘left’ formulae for social change.” F. Fukuyama, The End of History and The Last Man, 1998, 418p. F. Fukuyama, ‘The End of History?’, The National Interest, 16(5), 1989. pp. 3-18. F. Fukuyama, ‘Has History Started Again?’. Policy, 2(18), 2002. p. 3. S. Sim, Derrida and The End of History, 1999, p. 13: “(...) when ideology ends, so does history (...).” A. Vincent, Modern Political Ideologies, 1991, p.13: “The ‘end of ideology’ was an ideological position committed to a form of pragmatic liberalism. There was a clear failure, which permeated the


‘end of ideology’ perspective, to analyse liberalism as ideology.” See for example the now famous quip by Derrida: J. Derrida, Spectres de Marx. L’état de la dette, le travail de deuil et la nouvelle Internationale, 1993, p. 38: “Comment peut-on être en retard sur la fin de l’histoire? Question d’actualité.”

Excerpt from the book, CES 2008

Observations on Iranian cultural history and ideology orientalist At a time when the question of Iran has become so crucial and a heated polemic continues over the future of Iran – the direction that the country is headed and how relations should be developed – it is my opinion that we should, above all, make an effort to understand Iran’s cultural, spiritual and ideological idiosyncrasies. Iran has throughout history been one of the most powerful countries in the Middle East. Its culture, politics and ideology have always been a major influence, extending beyond the East during certain historical periods, such as the Achaemenid Empire (6th-4th century BCE). Historically, Iranian society has also been rather conservative - but every conservative society undergoes changes at one point or another. It is possible that Iran’s time to change is now. But if now is indeed the time of change, then how will change manifest, and what impact will it have? I dare not answer these questions. Speculations and conjectures are the field of fortune tellers; they are not the objective of researchers of the Middle East.


Iranians, as is the case with other large nations, have not lost their superpower mentality. It seems they still feel a sense of being a large nation, as they were during the Safavid and Sassanid eras. One of the interesting things about the Iranians is that, although they are primarily religious Shia Muslims, their national identity has largely been shaped by the Persian national epic Shahnameh, also known as “The Book of Kings,” which has nothing to do with Islam or its respective epic, and is instead associated with the preIslamic era and Zoroastrianism. The author of the epic poem is Ferdowsi, who lived from 940 to 1020 A.D. Interestingly, while Ferdowsi – considered to be one of Iran’s most important writers and national poets – lived during an Islamized Iran, his writings instead delved into the pre-Muslim period, portraying Iran’s ancient history as a legendary and glorious heritage. The work has had a major influence in shaping the mentality of Iranians, especially among the educated. Ferdowsi was one of the foremost intellectuals of his time, noted not only for his sophisticated language and style, but also for his affinity for Iranian history, to which he dedicated his life. As both a poet and a historian, Ferdowsi created a stupendous masterpiece.

Private collection

Vladimir Sazonov

Shahnameh is one of the main shapers of the Iranian national identity, but it is certainly not the only one. In some sense, parallels can be drawn with the epic Kalevipoeg, which inspired the Estonian national awakening and shaped the national identity of the Estonians. But in some ways the impact of Shahnameh on the Iranians seems even more significant. It is indisputably a composition that unites all Iranians. The epic reflects ancient Iran’s religious, cultural, historical, folkloric, and ideological heritage. In addition to having an enormous impact on the Iranian people and society, the


Avestan language had a strong impact on Persian and other Iranian languages. In modern Persian, there are many words that originate from Avestan - for instance, the word “behesht,” meaning “paradise.” Established by the Iranians, Zoroastrianism is the world’s oldest monotheistic religion. It emerged thousands of years ago in the Iranian region. Zoroastrianism is one of the most peculiar phenomenons in world and religious history, and it is probably the religion that has had the largest impact on humanity. It is believed that important concepts such as the “redeemer of man,” “resurrection” and “apocalypse” were brought into Christianity from Zoroastrianism. To some extent, Zoroastrianism even influenced the development of anciet philosophy. The prophet Zoroaster is thought to have founded the religion. Sources have dated the period of Zoroaster’s lifetime as early as the second millenium BCE, and the 6th century BCE at the latest. The highest deity of Zoroastrianism is Ahura Mazda, the lord of light and wisdom, and the creator of the world and humanity. The foe of Ahura Mazda is Ahriman, who represents evil. These two opposing characters wage a fight between good and evil. Such as is the world view of duality.

An Iranian Zoroastrian girl plays a daf, a large tambourine, during a celebration of the Zoroastrians’ ancient mid-winter Sadeh festival near Tehran. Sadeh celebrates the discovery of fire and its ability to banish the cold and dark. Sadeh was the national festival of ancient Persia when Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion, before the triumph of Islam in the 7th century. Now it is mostly celebrated in the homes and temples of Iran’s some 60,000 remaining Zoroastrians. epic has also played a role in shaping the world view of other Central Asian and Middle Eastern nations. The direct and indirect impact of the Shahnameh can be seen in the society, ideology and culture of modern Iran. It can be said that the Iranian mentality has been strongly affected not only by Islam, but also by the Avesta and Zoroastrianism. The Avesta is the holiest book in Zoroastrianism. The meaning of the word itself is not known. The Avesta consists of several parts, dating from various eras and varying in form and content. Supposedly, the first complete text of the teachings of Zoroastrianism was compiled as early as

from the 6th to 4th century BCE It was written onto parchment - a treated bull hide. The book was located in the ancient Iranian city of Persepolis, in the Persian king’s castle. But circa 330 BCE, Alexander the Great conquered and burned the city of Persepolis. The fire destroyed the first version of the Avesta. Only centuries later, an attempt was made to restore the original Avesta. The new Avesta was written in the Aramaic alphabet. When discussing the Avesta, it cannot be forgotten that the Avestan language is one of the oldest preserved written languages of Iran. Avestan is today used as a sacred language by Iranians and Indians who practice Zoroastrianism. Words from the

Even in the official ideology of today’s modern Islamic Republic of Iran, elements can be found that are not only related to Islam and Muslimization, but which reflect, perhaps indirectly, the ideology, geopolitics, and principles of ancient Persia. In that sense, Iran has not changed much throughout history - just as it fought the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago over hegemony in the Middle East, Iran has more recently retained the same goals in feuds with its more recent opponents. Today, Iran is still seeking the position of lead violinist in the Middle Eastern region. In addition to the to the long-term political and regional conflict between Iran and Iraq, the Shia-Sunni theological conflict, border and economic disputes, one of the reasons that led to the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) was definitely the fact that Saddam Hussein, the former ruler of Iraq, and the Iranian leadership both sought to dominate the Middle East. The Iran-Iraq War is sometimes seen as one of the last major conflicts between Arabs and Persians, or Shiites and Sunnis.




In this January 2012 photo, an Iranian smuggler in Oman prepares for a short trip across the Strait of Hormuz to reach Iran. As sanctions squeeze Iran ever tighter, the 60-kilometre route across the Persian Gulf is an attractive clandestine option.

In that situation, Iran attempted to gain control over the entire Persian Gulf and take Iraq’s meagre 40 kilometers of coastline, which would have left Iraq in an especially sad state, blocking access to the sea and thus the ability to transport oil with freighters. The root of the Arab-Iranian conflict has often been traced back to the end of the Sassanid era (224-651 A.D.) and to the 7th century, when Islam became dominant in the Middle East and the Sassanid Empire lost territories to the Arabs. One important event was the Battle of Ghadasia in the year 636 (other sources cite the year 637 or 638), when Muslim Arabs decisively defeated the Persian army. In 651, the Arabs conquered Iran, beginning the region’s Islamization. And so collapsed the Sassanid Empire. To better understand modern Iran’s culture, politics and official ideology, it is not enough to study the country’s recent history, security, religion, geopolitics and the history of Shia Muslims. One must also examine Iran’s history, culture, and theology as a whole, as well as the


archaic periods and how ideology was shaped through time. The establishment of Persia 2,500 years ago - along with its apparatus, ideology and propaganda - was the foundation of today’s Iran. Of course, Islam and the modern globalized world has significantly changed all this, but the essence of the archaic, unique and conservative culture remains. A Brief Overview of the Development of Iran’s National Ideology Ancient Iranian tribes belonged to the group known as the Indo-Europeans, as did the ancient Greeks, Romans, Celts, Slavs, Germanic peoples, etc. Thus, Iranian languages, folklore, mythology and religion all have much in common with both the Indian and European cultures. The ancient Iranians, who could possibly have originated from Central Asia, were present in the Iranian region beginning in the first millenium BCE It is not clear when exactly they arrived in Iran, but researchers suspect the transition period between the first and second millenniums BCE

The first known Iranian country to be established in the Iranian region was the Kingdom of Media (circa 9/8-6th century BCE). Of Iranian origin, the Medes conquered western Iran and dominated the Persians. Yet the Kingdom of Media was not the first state to be formed in the Iranian region - from the fourth to the first millennium BCE an Elymian civilization thrived in the northwestern part of the Iranian region. The tradition of statehood in the Iranian region was, therefore, already 2,000 years old. In ancient times, Elymia was a very productive territory. The Elymian civilization was strongly influenced by the acient civilizations of Mesopotamia - Sumeria, Assyria, and Babylon. In turn, Elymia had a deep impact on the shaping of the Iranian national ideology. In the first millennium BCE, the powerful Neo-Assyrian Empire emerged in Mesopotamia, essentially dominating the whole of the Middle East. In the second half of the 6th century BCE, the Middle East became an easy capture for the Persians. By that time the Persians had already learned how to run a state from


A dhow carrying tourists cruises in Oman’s waters in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has threatened to close the Strait if extra sanctions bite, cutting off the transport of 20 percent of the world’s oil. The US has warned Iran that doing so would cross a “red line,” prompting likely military action.

the Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Elymians, and other nations. Thus emerged the first major Persian state, ruled by kings from the Achaemenid dynasty (558-330 BCE). The Achaemenids traced their origins to the mythical Achaemenes, who according to legend was an ancient Persian tribal leader. One of the Achaemenids, Cyrus the Great (558-530 BCE), conquered the entire Middle East. Cyrus the Great founded a powerful empire, which ruled Western Civilization for the next 220 to 230 years, becoming a role model for many others, including Alexander the Great, the Parthian Empire, the Roman Empire, the Sassanid Empire, the Safavid Empire, and the Pahlavi dynasty, which ruled from 1925 to 1979 and continues to rule Iran today. The most famous ruler from the Achaemenid dynasty was Darius I (522-486). He was a great conqueror and reformer, as well as one of the greatest leaders of the official Persian propaganda appara-

tus. The Persians learned the tactics of propaganda and the elements of imperialist ideology from the Assyrian, Babylonian and Elymian empires. Actually, the archaic imperialist mentality of Iran developed from the combined influence of several factors - beginning with the fact that the Iranians were for a long time dependent vassals of numerous rulers, the most powerful of which was the NeoAssyrian Empire (9th-7th century BCE), led by an oppressive military ruler with unlimited power and who aspired to be the ruler and hero of the universe as well as the administrator of the gods on Earth. As a usurper, Darius I worked to strengthen his rule. First militarily, successfully crushing all resistance. Secondly, he successfully eliminating all potential rivals. Thirdly, although an Achaemenid, he was still an unlawful usurper, so he married Atossa, daughter of Cyrius II, who was in turn the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Additionally, Darius I mandated the construction of a collosal bas-relief along with an inscription in

three languages (Elamite, Old Persian and Babylonian) in a place that is now known as Mount Behistun. There, Darius I names himself the “the great king” and the “king of kings,” copying the titles of the ancient Assyrian and Babylonian rulers. The inscription is one of the first and most important texts in shaping the Iranian national ideology. The royalty of the Achaemenids has later appealed to several Iranian leaders. For instance, the Sassanids dreamed of the glory and pride of the Achaemenid Empire, attempting to restore the old borders of the Achaemenids - running from India to Egypt - during their rule of Iran from 224 to 651 A.D. Persian kings of the Sassanid dynasty asserted that they were the descendants of the Achaemenids, which was incorrect, but the Sassanid dynasty did originate from Persepolis, which had once been the Achaemenid capital. Beginning with the founder of the empire, Ardashir I (224-241), the Sassanid kings called themselves the following: shahanshah eran ud aneran - “king of kings of Iran and non-Iran.” Later, the



Safavids, who ruled Iran from the 16th18th century, adopted the same attitude and attempted to restore the old imperial borders. In the new era, the restoration of Iran’s statehood and strength is tied to the Safavid dynasty. The Safavid Empire was founded by Ismail I (1501-1524). This ambitious ruler created the powerful Safavid superpower, in which Shia Islam became the dominant religion. Ismail had a serious opponent - the Ottoman Empire, whose power and prestige rose significantly after it conquered Constantinople in 1453, leading to the destruction of remains of the Byzantine Empire and the conquest of the Balkans. Another problems was that Ismail I did not just declare himself a secular ruler, but also the spiritual leader of the Shiites, claiming to be the direct ancestor of Ali, the fourth caliph. He persecuted the Sunnis and this angered the Turkish sultan, who considered himself the protector of Sunnis. This resulted in several wars between Iran and Turkey, and the latter was more successful during the 16th century. The power and prestige of the Safavids was not restored until the rule of Shah Abbas I (1587-1629). He was a very prominent and talented ruler and military leader. During the rule of Abbas I, the Safavid state achieved its peak and was triumphant over the Ottoman Empire. It was his plan to restore Iran’s boundaries to those of the Sassanid Empire. The last shahs of the Pahlavi dynasty (1925-1979) also sought to associate themselves with the Sassanids and the Achaemenids. The title “king of kings,” as well as other elements and symbols from the ancient national ideology of Iran, proved to be surprisingly viable – shahs of the Pahlavi dynasty also used this title (Shahanshah) until 1979, when the Iranian revolution transpired and the monarch was dethroned. It seems that the glory and power of the Iranian empires - the Achaemenid and the Sassanid empires – has been preserved in the historical memory of Persians for a long time. It appears also to haunt the leadership of modern Iran, although a completely different sort of government system is in power today. The supporters of Iran’s monarchy consider the older son of the last shah, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1941-1979), to be his lawful heir.


Iran After Islamization Today, Islam is the dominant religion in Iran. Islam was brought to the Iranian region in the mid-7th century, when the Arabs destroyed the Sassanid Empire and conquered Iran. Later, Iran’s territories became independent, but Zoroastrianism’s former status as the national religion was not restored and Islam became dominant. Today, Iranians are primarily Shiites. Shiite Muslims believe themselves to be the descendants of Ali, the fourth caliph. They believe that power among Muslims must always be passed on to the descendants of Muhammad i.e. the the descendants of Ali and Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad. This concept led to the Islamic rift, establishing the Sunnis and Shiites. Shiites do not recognize the legitimacy of the first three Arab caliphs, considering them imposters. In addition to the Koran and the Sunnah, Shiites also have their own holy book, the al-Jafr, which describes the caliph Ali’s activities and contains his sayings. Shia Islam and the Shiite life philosophy, as well as the religion of Islam in general, has influenced all aspects of Iranian life - from literature, art and music to national ideology and politics, especially considering that Iran is today essentially a theocracy. The state’s highest authority has since 1979 belonged not to the president, but to the spiritual leader known as the Ayatollah. After the Islamic revolution of 1979, the monarch was overthrown and the Islamic Republic of Iran was founded. The leader of the revolution was a Shiite spiritual leader, Ruhollah Khomeini (ruled from 1979 to 1989), who embraced rather radical views and who returned to Teheran in 1979 after a long period in exile to establish an Islamic republic in Iran. This republic is by no means, however, more democratic than the monarchy of the shahs. The state that had once been open to the influence and ideas of the West, is now closed and has taken a course toward Islamization and spreading Shia Islam to other countries. The territories of Iran have for 4,500 years been ruled by despots and absolutist rule. No longer is there a king, or shah, in Iran. The absolutist monarchy has disappeared; unfortunately, nor has democracy emerged in 33 years. It is cer-

tainly naive to hope that Iran, which is ruled by a non-democratic regime, will in the near future adopt the Western democratic model. Nevertheless, when considering what has happened in Iran in recent years, there is reason to believe that Iran may soon face significant changes. But let’s see what the future brings. Works Cited (viimane külastus 31.01.2012) P. Briant. From Cyrus to Alexander. A History of the Persian Empire. Winona Lake (Indiana): Eisenbrauns, 2002. M. Hallik, O.-M. Klaassen. Taaveti tähest Talibani langemiseni. Konfliktid ja arengud Lähis- ja Kesk-Idas pärast Teist maailmasõda, Argo, Tallinn, 2004. E. Karsh, Iraani-Iraagi sõda 1980-1988. Inglise keelest tõlkinud Margus Elings, Koolibri, Tallinn, 2010. V. Sazonov, „Behistuni raidkiri – muistsete pärslaste kõige suurem raidkiri”. Horisont 3, 2011, lk 48–53. V. Sazonov, „Tänapäeva iraanlased ja muistne kultuuripärand”. Postimees: Kultuur, 24.10.2011, lk 7. M. Stausberg, Die Religion Zarathushtras: Geschichte, Gegenwart, Rituale. Band 1-3, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2002, 2004. J. Wiesehöfer. Das Antike Persien. Düsseldorf: Albatros Verlag, 2005. D. Waines, Sissejuhatus islamisse. Tõlk. Ü. Peterson, H. Einasto, AS BIT, 2003 А. Н. Ардашникова, М.Л. Рейснер, История литературы Ирана в Средние века (IX-XVII). Московский государственный университет имени М.В.Ломоносова, Институт стран Азии и Африки, Москва, ИД «Ключ-С», 2010. А. Алиев, Иран vs Ирак, История и современность.Издательство Московского Университета, Москва, 2002. С.Б. Дашков, Цари царей Сасаниды, Иран III-VII вв., в легендах, исторических хрониках и современных исследованиях. Москва,  2008.

Toomas Pallo It is a Christmas with heavy snow in Tallinn when I apply for a consultancy job in Jordan as part of the European Union neighbourhood policy project. When I receive a positive response that I am expected in Amman, it is still winter in Estonia but spring in Arabia. An Arab spring! The revolutionary wave that started in Tunisia has engulfed a large part of the southern Mediterranean region. There are also reports of popular unrest from various parts of the Arabian Peninsula. The beginning of the triumph of democracy may be nice, but what does it mean for a European? Should I be afraid? I am making preparations for my journey while numerous Egyptian holiday trips are being cancelled in Estonia and Europe. A look at the map does not bring peace of mind. Jordan shares a border with Iraq in the east and we all know what’s going on there. The southern border is shared with Syria, where reports of protest are beginning to come in. To the west is the West Bank of the Jordan River, a synonym for political conflict today. Much to the chagrin of my family, I start off on my first trip in February 2011, just as the first reports of unrest in Amman are coming in. After my arrival, my worrying proves unnecessary. Although there are demonstrations against the king in the old town mosque after Friday’s prayer, they are not widespread. Also, the king has let out some steam by making changes in government and implementing reforms. Even though this is my first visit to the Arab world, I fuse smoothly into the life of Jordan’s capital city. I am assisted by my good German colleague and project manager Ralf, who has been working here since 2006. Another important person is our local driver and guide Firas. Firas is Palestinian by birth, but has lived in Amman since early childhood. He’s a Jordanian citizen but still feels like a guest here. He is an expert on everything that needs organising and has a solution for any problem a person like me might have.

My duty during the 50-day project is to spread knowledge of strategic environmental assessment in Jordan and help promote this line of work. I have specific business with the Ministry of the Environment, which was established as recently as the 2000s to tackle mounting environmental issues. As it is one of the smallest public structures with the least amount of employees, a number of other public agencies are involved in the actual organisation of environmental protection. I communicate with the State Resources Board, which among other things oversees the development of oil shale fields and related oil and power production. Knowledgeable Jordanians know that an Estonian comes from the country of Eesti Energia – the company that promises to turn the stones in their yellow desert into fuel and electricity. I also liaise with the Development Regions Committee and other public structures in order to understand and develop the involvement of social and environmental issues into the planning process. The King’s subjects Jordan has a population of over 6.5 million, including over 2 million in the capital city Amman. The city is expected to grow to 6 million by 2050. To illustrate this rapid growth, it should be said that in 1950 the entire country’s population was only 1.5 million. Such an increase is mainly due to refugees. The first waves of refugees were Palestinians, following a number of conflicts between Israel and Palestine. Their integration into Jordanian society has been a long and difficult process, which has found some semblance of a solution only in the last decades. Besides political manoeuvres, the current king’s marriage to a Palestinian in 1983 has played a role in Palestinian integration in Jordan. Palestinians are estimated to make up as much as half of the population. Their role in state administration has also increased, which is why radical tribe leaders have made malicious statements over the past year concerning excessive Palestinian influence in the kingdom’s affairs. However there has not been any major friction in

Private collection

“Arab summer” in Jordan

this regard. The most recent large wave of immigration took place at the time of the Gulf War and the beginning of the Iraq War. Many wealthy Iraqis who fled from the war found a safe haven in Jordan. Amman has Iraqi restaurants where the Iraqi refugees regularly meet. Inhabitants of the capital city are reminded of the Iraqi war by a considerable rise in housing prices. Jordan is a constitutional monarchy. According to Hashemite genealogy, the king’s family can be traced back to the prophet Muhammad. The current king is a 43rd generation descendant of Muhammad. Abdullah II came to power in 1999 after his father’s death. King Abdullah II, who celebrates his 50th jubilee this year is fervently honoured by a large part of the population. This is not an exaggeration. He is also one of the most acclaimed heads of state in the Arab world. The king and the state of Jordan currently have an active intermediary role in Palestinian–Israeli talks. Pictures of the royal family in its classic trinity – the kings Hussein and Abdullah II and the throne prince Hussein – can be seen everywhere and in all kinds of places. Everyone has something appreciative to say when speaking about the king.



Private collection

Jordan’s capital Amman is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited ciities . Traces of advanced culture found by archaeologists date back to the 11th century BCE. The picture shows a Roman-era amphitheatre from a time when the city was known as Philadelphia. As usual, monarchs are their people’s best representatives in many fields. Hailing from a rally nation Estonians should know that King Abdullah is the rally champion of Jordan. The annual Jordan Rally, which in 2011 was also a World Championship competition, is held under the king’s watchful eye. However he had to abandon his hobby of parachute jumping when he became king... Jordanians are peaceful and fairly composed people. The aggressive bargaining so characteristic of some eastern countries practically doesn’t exist here. In the market and shops you can choose your goods in peace unless you ask for guidance. On the other hand, you cannot easily barter about the price. Goods are offered in a teasing, rather than intrusive manner. Many a little souvenir shop bears the humorous name “Why Not Shop’” and the necklace seller, who has just heard a polite but resolute “No thank you” from a tourist, shouts jokingly back “Say yes!” Jordan’s currency, the dinar, is almost equal to the euro. However, the euro crisis has wavered the exchange rate to the dinar. While a year ago on my first trips to Jordan I was able to buy nearly 1.1


dinars for a euro, then at the beginning of this year a dinar is worth 1.1 euros. The price level is comparable to that of Estonia. Endless desert... and plastic bags Nature has not blessed Jordan with too many resources above or below ground. Crop cultivation is possible only in the northern part of the country, in the Jordan River valley, and by the Red Sea in the south. You might think that you can literally strike oil anywhere on the Arabian Peninsula, but this is not the case in Jordan. Oil, gas, and other fuels are imported. The suppliers are mainly the related tribes or other countries in the region. Fuel and heating are relatively expensive here. To meet the rapidly growing energy demand, an oil shale project was launched, for which some of the resources were divided between many possible energy producers. Enefit, i.e. Eesti Energia, has made the most progress toward the actual exploitation of oil shale. Proponents of nuclear energy are fairly active in Jordan now, which is why the opponents are anxious as well. The focus is also on alternative energy,

which seems to have lots of room for development. For example, only an estimated 16% of houses in Amman have their hot water heated by solar energy. In Israel, where such a system is mandatory for every house, the share of solar energy users already exceeds 90%. A very large part of Jordan is covered with arid desert. In summer, the country can be shrouded in dust brought by strong winds from the desert areas of the Arabian Peninsula and the Sahara. It’s practical to keep your windows and doors shut at this time, or else the light yellow substance will cover your furniture and everything else indoors in a matter of hours. For a Nordic person, who spends a large part of the year keeping vegetation at bay (mowing grass, cutting scrubs), the Jordanian desert looks like a Martian landscape. If it wasn’t for one thing – plastic bags. It is highly likely that geologists in the distant future will call our age the Plastic Bag Age. Organised waste management is only in the formative stage and weakly coordinated in Jordan. The first law on waste is only reaching parliament. Actual waste management is based on waste collectors and handlers that

Private collection

copy certain popular world models with only weak coordination by the state or local government. Plastic bags are widely used. In shops, almost every unit is happily packed in a separate plastic bag. A large part of the packaging ends up in the desert. Each thorny bush growing in the desert is a trap for at least one, but more likely many plastic bags. I am not exaggerating when I say that there was not a single metre of land free of plastic bags along the 365 km of desert road from the Red Sea to the capital city. Jordan also has one of the world’s poorest countries in terms of fresh water resources. Annual precipitation is 111 mm. This is nearly five to eight times less than in Estonia. Precipitation is expected to decline further, due to climate change. Throughout its history, Amman has been supplied by groundwater or water collected from wadis. Most of the wadis are now under buildings and the groundwater level drops by nearly a metre a year due to extensive use. To meet the growing demand, a water pipe nearly 325 km long and about 2 m in diameter has been built through Jordan to deliver water from the south-eastern part of the country to the capital. The water pipe was completed as recently as 2011, but can meet only a quarter of the demand. Plans are in the works proposing to pump desalinated Red Sea water. However the shortage of water is not obvious from people’s behaviour in Amman. Washing and polishing cars is almost a national sport. The front terraces of houses are also washed and dampened with care every morning. A sad example of decreasing water resources is the Dead Sea. Its level drops by nearly a metre every year. This lake, which does not have an outlet, is expected to dry up in the next 50 years. A tourist can witness the drop of the water levels by the coastal structures, which are now several metres above the sea. Tourism Summer is tourist season in Jordan. People come from the Gulf countries to seek shelter from the heat. Extra-large off-road vehicles then become a common sight on the streets of Amman. Saudi families parade the shops and restaurants, led by the white-cloaked head of the family, followed by a bunch of noisy children and

The best-known view of the ancient cliffside city of Petra ‒ Al Khazneh or the “treasury”. finally the mother of the family, dressed in black. For decades, Jordan used to be a stop on their summer journey via Syria to Lebanon. The problematic situation in Syria decreased this transit tourism considerably in 2001, while the length people’s stay in Jordan has increased. Medical tourism is another interesting form of tourism. Already in Gaddaffi’s day, Jordan had an agreement providing health care services to Libyans and the new government has extended this agreement. In January and February 2012, hotels in Amman are full of Libyans and their family members receiving medical care in an Amman hospital. For European tourists, there are certainly more convenient destinations with a more developed infrastructure, but a visi-

tor to Jordan has all the more opportunity to experience a place that has not been ruined by the tourist industry. Even when visiting the “must-sees”, I have the feeling that Europe hasn’t quite discovered Jordan yet. Here are some tips: Dead Sea and Madaba If you ever visit Jordan, you should take a trip to the Dead Sea. It’s only 40 km from Amman, but because of the mountains, the drive takes nearly an hour. A swim in the Dead Sea is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. It looks like regular water, but feels like an oily emulsion. You can float like a cork on the dense salty liquid and this is a source of excitement for everyone. Swimming is completely impossible; what’s more, when you try to walk in up to your chest,



Private collection

The Dead Sea’s water level is falling primarily due to the heavy use of the water in the River Jordan, which feeds the lake. In the 1930s, 1.3 billion m3 of water a year flowed into the Dead Sea from the Jordan, but the figure has now dropped to less than 400 million m3. Only 2% of the Jordan’s water makes it to the Dead Sea. A total of 1.05 billion m3 of water evaporates from the surface of the Dead Sea each year, as a result of which the water level falls 1 metre a year. It is predicted that the lake will completely dry up in 50 years. For now, however, the ultrasaline body of water offers tourists from near and far a chance to enjoy floating carefree as a child. your feet are simply lifted from the sea bottom. If you get the extremely salty water in your eyes, you can imagine what the devil in the old Estonian fairy tale must have felt when the clever peasant poured boiling lead into his eye... Jordan plans to further develop Dead Sea tourism. In 2001 the development plan for the Dead Sea region won an international architectural award in the planned areas category. But why develop tourism if the sea is disappearing? To compensate the loss of water due to evaporation, a plan is in the works to direct additional water to the Dead Sea from the Red Sea or via Israel from the Mediterranean Sea. The idea has gotten no further than the planning stage since the water pipe’s environmental impacts have not yet been studied. On the way from Amman to the Dead Sea you can visit Madaba and Mount Nebo. Madaba is the country’s largest Christian centre and its main attraction is a 19th century Greco-Roman church, which has been built in the place of a much older church. Nebo is the place where Jehovah showed Moses the Promised Land. As you stand in the same spot today and look over the sea toward Jerusalem, Jericho and other biblical cities, you can only imagine the green hillsides that once covered the entire Dead Sea Valley up to Jerusalem.


Petra One of Jordan’s main sights, visited by about a million tourists in 2011 is the town of Petra, cut into sandstone rocks thousands of years ago. It has been recognised as one of the so-called seven modern wonders of the world. While foreign tour operators used to cut a direct profit from Petra, the state of Jordan has now decided to increase its share of the revenue by increasing the entry fee ten times. During our visit it was 50 dinars per person. Petra’s heyday was during the Nabatean and Roman Empire times, while a few Bedouin tribes still live there. You should plan a whole day to visit the rock city and the canyon that takes you there. Wadi Rum For those interested in wilderness, Jordan offers Wadi Rum, which is about 60 km north of Aqaba. The Valley of the Moon with its hot red sand dunes and majestic granite cliffs is Jordan’s largest wadi. Wadi Rum has been home to Bedouins since prehistoric times, but became more widely known in the west thanks to Lawrence of Arabia, i.e. the 1962 British film made in the Wadi Rum and starring Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif and others. Tourists are shown a collapsed heap of stones in Wadi Rum that is claimed to have been the residence of T. E. Lawrence in 1917– 1918, when he camped-out there during

the Arab Revolt. The fact that the Martian landscapes for the Hollywood sci-fi film “Red Planet” were filmed in Wadi Rum speaks for itself. Arab summer? The popular unrest of the Arab Spring never happened in Jordan, and this is not surprising when you are on the spot. There are always dissatisfied people everywhere, regardless of the state order and system of government. The kings of Jordan have managed to maintain balance between different social groups. Under strong immigration pressure, no single ethnicity, class or religion has been allowed to dominate so much as to cause discontent in others. The scarcity of natural resources has forced the country to appreciate its main resource – the people. In his interview for the London Times in November of last year, King Abdullah II stressed that the Arab Spring was certainly a major turning point in the history of the Middle East. “When you look at other countries, you go from Arab spring into Arab summer, which is where I think we are now... The work ahead of us now is to prepare for the 2012 elections.” Abdullah II has previously said that Jordan wants to set an example for the rest of the Arab world, “because there are a lot of people who say that the only democracy you can have in the Middle East is the Muslim Brotherhood”. But indeed, there are other ways. 

Vootele Hansen Since last year, the countries of North Africa and the Middle East have been at centre stage for the world media due to the events there. What was excitedly dubbed Arab Spring has now, after the first elections, turned to talk of Arab Autumn. Those drawn to historical parallels can see similarities to the spring of 1848 in Europe and the endless disputes in the Frankfurt Parliament and the Second Reich. These countries have been closely tied with Europe for thousands of years. A number of fathers of the church were active in North Africa; Augustine and Origen are the first that come to mind. Around 1,300 years ago, these countries fell into the sphere of influence of another religion, Islam. During the Age of Discovery, they were bypassed by new trade routes, until the building of the Suez Canal in 1870. During the 19th century and after the defeat of the Ottoman Turks in World War I, these countries became dependent on the great nations of Europe; independence came only after World War II. During the last half century, they have been a significant source of migration to Europe. The Turks in Germany and North Africans in France have sparked discussions on the topic of immigration. More extremist views hold that the migrant workers will achieve what the caliphate did not do in the Battle of Tours and the Ottomans failed to do at the gates of Vienna – and raise the green flag of Islam over the capitals of Europe. Looking at population growth in North African countries and Turkey, one gets the impression of a growing human reservoir that is brimming over. The following table (source: US statistics) shows the population in 1960 and 2012: 1960 2011 Algeria 10,9 35,4 Egypt 26,8 83,7 Morocco 12,4 32,3 Tunisia 4,1 10,7 Libya 1,3 6,7 Turkey 28,2 79,7

As we see, during this time the populations of five of the countries tripled and that of Libya quintupled. France’s population in 1960 was 46.6 million; in 2012 it stands at 65.4 million; Germany’s has increased from 72.5 million to 81.3 million. Immigration to Europe has outstripped emigration, but the situation is the opposite in several North African countries. The population of Germany and France has been growing at only 1 per 1,000 people in recent years as a result of immigration. In Turkey and Libya as well, the growing economy needs workers and the US statistics show that immigration exceeds emigration in these countries. In 1973, the population of Turkey increased by 1 per 1,000 per year, and that of Libya increased by 31 people per 1,000, yet now immigration and emigration have evened out. Emigration is greater in Morocco, where the population shrank annually by 5 people in 1,000 during the 1980s, and now by four people per 1,000. Immigration is promoted by Europe’s low natural population growth. Negative population growth was first seen in France after rapid population growth. A textbook from the Vichy era stated: “As mentioned, France’s main problem is the demographic problem. To increase its population, France has radically eliminated all requirements of racial purity. However, this gradually leads to a very acute danger of a coloured population. Extending compulsory military service to coloureds and appointment of coloured officers could create a situation where an armed mass of coloureds seizes power in French colonies. /.../ The colonies will remain solely under French administration in future, as France lacks energy, power and the necessary human resources of its body politic to populate the colonies with white settlers.”1 The author also mentions the diminishing relative importance of France. Whereas during the reign of Louis XIV, 20 million French accounted for 40% of the population of Europe, during WWII the

Private collection

Population growth in North Africa and Turkey

42 million French were just 1/13 of the population. Those more than 60 years of age made up one-tenth of the population. The following is said in the spirit of those German era regarding French demographic policy, under which arrivals from the colonies were given citizenship if they married a French woman: “France has deliberately deserted the fundamentals of racial purity.”² Currently Europe is an net immigration region, but only 100 years ago people were emigrating in droves. Settlers from Europe colonized America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Demographers tell us that all peoples undergo similar population trends but do so according to their own rules, which cannot be explained by other processes taking place in society.³ They add that although the development is similar, it does not take place at the same time in the case of different nations. A thousand years from now, an anomaly in one generation may just be a blip. Thus the population growth in Europe’s southern and south-eastern neighbours will have to slow down, too. Looking at the US data and forecasts, this is indeed the case. The population in Algeria grew




Young Egyptians in Cairo a year after the demonstrations that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. The Arabic text on the wall reads “Eye of Freedom Street” and replaces the street’s old name, Mahammed Mahmud.

2.6% per year in 1987. This year, the projection is 1.2% growth and zero growth by 2050. In 1987, fertile women gave birth to an average 5.3 children; this year it is 1.7. A total 34 children were born per 1,000 people in 1987 and this year the forecast is 17. At the same time the average life expectancy has increased. In 1987, it was 65, today; almost 75. Significantly, infant mortality has decreased. In 1987, 77 children in 1,000 died before the age of 5, now the figure is 29. Mortality has decreased faster than the birth rate. In 1987 eight people in 1,000 died; this year the figure is 5. Initially the decreasing birth rate will be offset by the increasing life expectancy, which at some point will lead to a new ageing trend and increasing mortality. It is predicted that in 2050 Algeria’s mortality will be 10 per 1,000 people per year.

per woman of child-bearing age is currently 2.2 in Morocco, 2.0 in Tunisia and 2.1 in Turkey, which is just barely at or below the natural replacement rate. In Estonia, according to Statistics Estonia, the total fertility rate in 2010 was 1.64 (on the basis of projected number of births during a woman’s lifetime, calculated on the basis of this year’s data), while it was 2.16 as recently as 1970. Life expectancy at birth in Estonia in 2010 was close to 76. The biggest change in life expectancy occurred in Libya, where the figure stood at 58 years in 1973 (Estonia’s was 70 at that time) but now is 78, according to US statisticians. Estonia’s life expectancy according to the same source is now 74, which is nearly equal to the same figure for the countries in this overview, and which is lowest in Turkey and Egypt (73 years).

Similar developments have taken place in other countries as well. The birth rate is still high in Egypt, 28 per 1,000 people in 1996, and currently it is 24. Women of child-bearing age have 3.7 and 2.9 children, respectively. The number of births

It can be concluded that the population of North Africa and the Middle East will continue to grow for another one or two generations, but that the growth will decrease and the elderly will start increasing. The Americans project that


in 2050 the population of Turkey will be 101 million, Egypt 103.7 million, Algeria 44.2 million, Morocco 42 million, Tunisia 12.2 million and Libya 10.9 million. Emigration from these countries will probably continue, but unless some catastrophe occurs there is no reason to believe that emigration will become more intensive than it has been to this point. ¹

² ³

E. Kareda, Majandusgeograafia. Õpik gümnaasiumi V klassile (Economic geography, a gymnasium textbook), Tartu Eesti Kirjastus, 1943, p. 92. Ibid, p. 88. „The basic shift in understanding of demographic developments, which started in the 1930s and on which modern demographic theory is based, consists of a simple fact: no longer is an attempt made to explain demographic development through and using other social processes. Demographic development functions as an independent social system, subject to specific laws and rules.” Eesti põlvkondlik rahvastikuareng, (Estonia’s generational demographic development) Kalev Katus, Allan Puur, Asta Põldma, Tallinn 2002, p. 24. 

China: punching above its weight It has become customary to talk of China as the world’s premier superpower of the future. And indeed, China is home to about one-quarter of the world’s population, and since the death of Mao, has departed from its isolationist foreign policy and economic course and surprised the rest of the world with blazing economic growth that has lasted more than 30 years. There are no countries on earth today where one does not come across Chinese goods, and in many regions, especially in its near abroad and in Africa – China has aggressively entered new markets, giving local or Western competitors stiff competition or even pushing them out altogether. The Chinese government has also shown noteworthy skill in handling internal tensions, manoeuvring flexibly between interest groups, without shying away from the use of force to maintain control over the areas home to national minorities (Tibet, Eastern Turkestan), suppressing democracy protesters at universities and other dissidents or quashing religious movements (Falungong). To a significant extent, China’s growing wealth has also been parlayed in recent years into modernization of its military, which at the international level, and especially in Japan, India, Russia and the US, has resulted in discussions as to whether China could become go from regional to global power also in terms of its military. To a certain extent, this ambition is also signalled by the Chinese agreement with the government of the Seychelles to use the islands as a Chinese naval base. All of the above undoubtedly leaves quite an impression. And this is particularly so when we consider the background. In the last 60 years, China has gone from a fragmented semi-colony of the Western countries to one of the undisputed power centres of the world, and in the last 30 years it has also achieved an economic position that no one can ignore. In doing

so, China has left its northern neighbours Russia and Japan behind in terms of power. As late as late 1945, Japan still occupied the huge north-eastern Chinese province of Manchuria and the country’s coastal provinces in summer 1945, while Russia’s predecessor the Soviet Union was the mentor as well as protégé (protector?) of communist China until a major dispute in the late 1950s. Yet China’s rise into a leading world power is not a fait accompli. On the contrary. In fact Chinese politicians and diplomats have succeeded in creating an image of their country, of which Australian Sinologist Ross Terrill says that China is able to pull strings to punch above its weight. In spite of its outward splendour, China still faces myriad problems, which could prove exceedingly difficult or impossible for the current communist government to resolve. In this context, we should start by looking at China’s geography and history. As US analyst George Friedman says, China is essentially an island: to the north contacts and communications are hindered by the Mongolian deserts and Siberian taiga; to the south, the Himalayas and the mountainous jungles of Southeast Asia; to the west are wildernesses and mountain ranges, the crossing of which presents an arduous prospect. Only the seas off the eastern coast offer the country relatively good links to the outside world. Here, major expenses come into play for building the infrastructure related to the ships and ports for crossing the long distances and marine traffic. These are the roots of a certain historical curse – China’s coastal areas are always ahead of the inland areas, while inland areas are drained dry of resources. Economically and politically, the coast and inland areas have been in opposition. This opposition became especially destructive in the later half of the 19th century, when after the two Opium Wars the great Western powers essentially

Private collection

Mart Helme

subjugated the Chinese coastal areas. As a result, trade and capital followed by workforce became increasingly concentrated on the Pacific coast and the metropolises there -- Shanghai, Hongkong, Canton, Macau, Qingtao and so on. It also meant the rise of two parallel societies: on one hand, the agrarian, traditional inland with its embrace of Confucian order; and on the other hand the modernizing, foreign market-oriented coastal society that absorbed Western ideologies. The stratification of society, and the rise of new social classes (working class, modern bankers, Westernized intelligentsia) and the rivalry between provinces weakened central authority so much in the first decade of the 20th century that when student protests evolved into an anti-imperial revolution in 1911, it led not only to the fall of the dynasty but the fragmentation of the entire country. The foundation on which unity began to be restored was no longer Confucianism, which had kept China together for centuries and shaped the identity of the civilization. It was something more modern – Chinese nationalism. In the struggle for reunification, the communists and Chiang Kai-shek’s national-




Farmers stand at a wheat field at a village in Xiping county, Yunnan province, 22 February 2012. A severe drought has lingered in southwest China’s Yunnan province for three consecutive years, disrupting the lives of 6.3 million people and posing fire risks in the heavily-forested province.

ists stood on opposite sides of the same traditional gap that has plagued China for centuries. Chiang represented the coast and the orientation to the outside world, while Mao stood for the hinterland and the peasantry. In essence, the civil war in China that ended in 1949 was won not so much by the communists but by the masses of peasants who had missed out on the fruits of foreign trade and modernization, and who were enticed with nationalist slogans and land reform. This excursus into history and geography should be placed in the context of contemporary China. Once again we see a deeply fractured country where the coastal provinces oriented at foreign trade, have left the inland part in the role of orphan child and sucked it empty of vitality. It is a little known but very salient fact that 80 percent of the Chinese population lives on only 20 percent of its territory. Naturally this 20 percent is situated on the Pacific coast. And, like in the early 20th century, the Beijing government will have a complicated time if


it wants to retain its power and authority over the conflict-riven provinces. The fact that the Beijing government is communist in form does not have any importance in the situation at hand. Actually the word “communist” should be replaced by the word “authoritarian” and this means having to sense the inevitability of the iron fist of the central government. In Russia, the triumph of Western liberal democracy would likely mean that regions with weak ties to each other and a common identity would become independent and the unitary state would crumble. Likewise, if China abandoned communism (read: autocracy), it would lead to fragmentation. And just as in Russia the government holds the state together with nationalist slogans and by sowing xenophobia, the Chinese government follows the same model. Beijing has had yet another lever to use in the last 30 years to help the cen-

tral government to retain control of the provinces; and that is money. Rapid economic growth and centralized governance has made it possible to pump inland the money earned on the coasts. And although this has not proved capable of eliminating the conflicts, it has eased them somewhat. China is now facing a situation where the economic crisis in the West threatens to sharply decrease the export-driven income. Naturally this means that the tensions that have gathered over the decades will start escalating, and it is possible that they could spill over into physical conflicts. If we add to this mix the demographic problems that face China – which could themselves set off extensive social chain reactions – we see that even in the best case, it will not be possible for China in the next few decades to realize the role of world leader it pretends to. Furthermore, no large country can become a truly dominant superpower unless it has enough military might. Chi-


Chinese villagers perform a dragon dance along the village main street in Zhaiyinggu, southwest China s Guizhou province on February 5, 2012. China said retail sales surged 16.2 percent year on year to US $74 billion during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, as consumers splashed out on food, wine and clothes. Hundreds of millions of people journey across the country during the holiday to celebrate with their families. na has been spoken of as making a military tiger’s leap in the past few years. But here, too, China has only left the impression that it can punch above its weight.

stealth plane 30 years ago, China lags several decades behind its main rival, even if it is successful at industrial espionage.

If we look the Chinese arsenal next to the US’s military forces, there is really not much of a comparison. The US has ten active aircraft carriers, but China has only one, purchased from Russia and not completely finished (the former “Varyag”). It is planned to build two Chinese-made carriers, but even if they are finished, this will not be enough to wield global power on all proverbial seven seas. Moreover, an aircraft carrier is only a hub for squadrons of naval auxiliaries surrounding it, so China will need tens of other modern and high-tech vessels.

And last but not least: China is not able to compete with the US financially either. Although Beijing increased defence spending by a bit more than 20 percent last year, the figure of 94 billion US dollars is several times off the 500 billion dollar US defence budget And the US army’s foreign missions are not financed from this amount.

The situation with the Chinese air force is the same. Even though testing of China’s own J-20 stealth fighter have wound up successfully, US sources estimate that China will not be able to get the model ready for mass production before 2018. If we recall that the US developed its first

Thus we can say that despite all of its impressive achievements, China stands face to face with a whole number of complex problems in the decades ahead, and these will inevitably curtail its rise on the global scale.

lapse of markets, including the financial markets, would be an unmitigated disaster, likely will wipe the current communist government and throw the country into the throes of decentralization. As long as the communist central government is able to stimulate the people by manipulating cash flows, inciting nationalist sentiment and tantalizing the population with a bright future, the bulk of the Chinese people will see the communists as another historical dynasty thanks to whom China has returned to the ranks of the great powers of the world. 

It is no wonder, then, that China is prepared to participate in alleviating the euro crisis, and has bought massive quantities of US government bonds. The Chinese government has no other choice, as a col-



The worldview and values of the successful Chinese Shanghai All indications are that by 2020, the Chinese economy will surpass the US economy and that by 2030, the standard of living in Asia will be equal to that of Europe’s today. China’s affluent middle class has produced a million Chinese whose personal wealth is estimated at 10 million yuan or more. They are a further 60,000 superrich individuals with assets of over 100 million yuan. Major changes are taking place in the economy and all layers of society are bound to be affected by the country’s opening up to the outside world. Traditional Chinese values are becoming more closely entwined with Western principles. In the late 1970s, Deng Xiaoping unveiled the idea of the socialist market economy, which has now become the state market economy. Millions of Chinese harkened enthusiastically to the party leader’s admonition to amass wealth and they became richer faster than anyone else in history. Most of today’s successful Chinese amassed most of their wealth in the last decades. They are younger than their American counterparts and most of them built their fortunes in private enterprise. The average superrich Chinese is 43 years old. In the late 1960s, Mao Zedong claimed that China was building and producing not to make profits but for the good of world revolution. Today the ideological approach has been supplanted by market-driven expedience. Furtherance of Chinese self-interest has taken precedence and carrying out common goals has been relegated to the backdrop. The self-awareness of the Chinese – both in the middle class and among the wealthiest – has risen significantly. People with a higher education and income are becoming bolder about facing down the authorities in defence of their interests. Values vary the most between rural and urban dwellers, with the latter more open to adopting Western attitudes. As western countries represent well-devel-


oped technologies, power and modernity, a large share of those in the PRC will try to follow this model as well as they are able. Marketing directors in other countries have realized that Chinese consumers are very susceptible to incitement to embrace Western values. Before this decade is out, China is expected to become the world’s greatest market for elite goods. The affluent Chinese is a strong consumer of luxury goods. While European tourists mill in Shanghai’s markets for knock-offs of famous brands, Chinese travel to Paris to shop for originals at the tax-free stores, as local prices are high thanks to the hefty import duties and luxury taxes. Chinese prefer trademarks they know – they feel one can’t go wrong with Versace or Coachi. To ensure a good sales figures, a smart merchant opens a little corner of a grocery store for Prada purses. Louis Vuitton’s brown and yellow monogrammed logo can be seen on different types of handbags, as well as on a footstool that draws customers into a pedicure salon. One in 175 people in Shanghai is a yuan millionaire, but every major city has plenty of customers with good purchasing power and purveyors of luxury goods expanded to the provinces long ago. Any self-respecting wealthy Chinese esteems prestigious club member status. Well-tuned Bentleys, Rolls Royces and Jaguars can be seen cruising around in the elite residential communities in the big cities, with Lamborghinis the latest toy to be discovered. Wealthy Chinese frequent antique markets and bid at auctions in Hong Kong and New York. They invest into traditional Chinese art and world classics, amassing art collections worth millions of dollars. Chinese are fond of conspicuous displays of wealth. The golden trinity for the successful Chinese is career, money and beautiful things. This facile image is only marred by the worry about how to preserve and grow one’s wealth in China’s ostensibly stable society.

Private collection

Krista Reinhold

In spite of the great economic growth, a large percentage of Chinese are seeking opportunities to take out their capital and emigrate. They are fascinated by the prospects for legalizing their money abroad and investing it without risk. The representations of Western countries in China have noticed an increase in applications for investment and business visas. The Chinese are investing their money into elite real estate in London, Sydney and New York and buy depreciated real estate in US for cash. Those who are well off complain that they own practically nothing in their homeland and they are stymied by the leasehold system that confers only 70 years of ownership on acquired real estate. The educational level at Western private schools and the social net in the Western world are tempting. Chinese looking to emigrate do so because they want to be part of the international business world and travel more easily. Successful individuals may also feel stymied by the curbs on freedom of speech, as urbanized and wealthy Chinese are more oriented to democratic values. Also hastening to emigrate are corrupt officials and businesspeople who became rich in the last decade when regulatory and supervisory systems weakened during the boom period. Legislation is


A staff member from Interasia Auctions in Hong Kong displays an unissued Chinese stamp from 1968 called “Great Victory of the Cultural Revolution” , estimated to fetch US $960,000- 1.155 million). Surging demand from newly wealthy Chinese for art, wine and other collectibles has helped turn Hong Kong into the world’s largest auction hub after New York and London.

always a few steps behind business in China. Wealthy Chinese know that their wealth arose in an unstable environment and they fear that economic reforms will suddenly be reversed. Nor do the harsh punishments, often even the death penalty, meted out for bribery foster a sense of security. People want personal security and safeguards for their money. Taking foreign citizenship is comparable with a life insurance policy and those born in Hong Kong at the right time can feel fairly worry-free. The most popular countries for emigration are the US, Canada, Singapore and Western Europe. Growing environmental awareness may be one reason that people emigrate. Organic farms are growing in popularity but their output certainly would not be worthy of ecologically pure designation in Europe. The richest locals in Shanghai and foreigners consume much produce from eco-farms. The price is several times that of conventional stores – but the location just a few dozen kilometres from Pudong international airport does not guarantee the ecological purity

of the produce grown there. The thinking Chinese person has understood that affluence does not allow them to access much significantly cleaner food and air and they are concerned about their personal and family’s health. Chinese seek American-style rule of law, education and social well-being above all outside China, voting with their feet. The main obstacle to emigration can in some cases be unwillingness to move far away from their ancestors. Functional family ties and friendships are held in high regard in China. Westerners may be surprised to learn how important personal connections are in cultivating economic ties. Traditional Chinese family life was very strict and rule-driven. After Maoism, many of the restrictions have disappeared and Chinese families operate increasingly similarly to the Western lifestyles. Although family remains important in China, its role is diminishing strongly for young people. In spite of the changes, respect for elders and the elderly lives on as an important principle in Chinese society.

More and more, though, the Western, nuclear family model has become predominant, where the family consists only of the parents and their children (or just the parents). The Western world sees, with reason, China’s one-child policy as an unjustified restriction on human rights. Many financially secure Chinese actually do not personally want more children. They prefer to invest the time and energy spent on children in a more self-centred fashion. They do not need successors to ensure their retirement and are not concerned about the ageing of the Chinese population. For decades, Chinese families have preferred boys over girls as better poised to provide for their family in future. The deliberate shunning of girls has now led to a situation where more than 30 million single men will have a hard time finding a bride in the next 10 years due to a shortage of marriageable women. Men who are more financially secure undoubtedly hold an advantage, insofar as a bride’s family in Shanghai for instance also




Students attend their college graduation ceremony in Shanghai’s Fudan University on 2 July 2011. China began expanding university enrolment in 1996 to meet growing personnel demands as the economy boomed, but the government is concerned about how to create enough jobs for the millions of college students who will graduate between 2011 and 2015. expects a suitor to have a well-compensated job and personal living space. A spoiled nouveau riche generation has arisen, who are criticized for being irresponsible. Having the right lineage and money to spend, they are consumers of various entertainment. A relatively new phenomenon on China’s educational landscape is extracurricular courses oriented to affluent older school-age children. Golf, riding and fencing are popular. Some courses even include a visit to the West Point military academy in the US. Valuable study opportunities are available for those with money to pay for it – the price of a 12-week program can be as much as half a million yuan. Providing their children with a good education is one of the primary aims of wealthy Chinese and the preferred schools are in the US and Europe. Chinese make up a solid majority of international students at American colleges. The ancient view of Confucius regarding equal opportunity to education is far from the rule now in China.


Yet Confucianism has reared its head in the recent decade in China. Officials latch on to it and talk of the need to balance society. The hope, years ago, was that if the more capable, trustworthy people were allowed to accrue wealth, the people would later take care of the rest of society. Unfortunately it did not go that way, and individualism and harsh economic competition are the order of the day in China. Until as recently as 30 years ago, the Chinese people were still consistently poor, and thus today they are less inclined to accept the stratification that has occurred. The emigration of the successful ones sows additional tension into society, and corruption accusation and swindles have fuelled animosity toward the rich. Chinese history has also taught the Chinese to revere scholars and look down on merchants. By putting an accent on Confucianism, the Chinese government is trying to reinforce a clear Chinese identity and patch over a social rift caused by stratification. As if hoping for indulgences, young and successful Chinese are establishing charity funds, motivated by social approval. They aim

to ease bitterness and show that they want to give back to society. The most popular philanthropic fields are education and disaster relief. In many cases, such laudable initiatives founder in the net of legal acts, which do not regulate charity sufficiently. In the early 21st century, in spite of foreign influences, China remains a collective society with strong ties between individuals and where people esteem tradition and conformism. Economic growth and innovation will bring an increasing amount of Western influences, but China’s cultural isolation (the particularities of language and historical legacy) will continue to reduce the influences of other civilizations for some time. An IMF analysis recently mentioned that the state of the world’s economy could be improved by precisely the populous Chinese middle class with their spending power. Affluent Chinese are well disposed to shopping, while Europeans find that instead of lavish consumer spending, they have loans to pay off first if they are to escape the debt crisis. 

Finland’s pivotal presidential election of 2012 In the beginning of February, Finland elected its new president for a six-year term. Having completed her second term, the outgoing Tarja Halonen could not be reelected. Eight political parties nominated candidates for the presidency: Pekka Haavisto for the Green League, Paavo Lipponen for the Social Democratic Party of Finland, Timo Soini for the True Finns, Sauli Niinistö for the National Coalition Party, Eva Biaudet for the Swedish People’s Party, Paavo Väyrynen for the Centre Party, Sari Essayah for the Christian Democrats, and Paavo Arhinmäki for the Left Alliance. In Estonia, the president is elected either by Parliament or an electoral council; Finland elects its president through a direct vote. Although the Finnish president’s power has been significantly curbed in recent years, mainly leaving intact representative functions, the position still provides influence that a skillful politician can use effectively. Direct elections rule out the possibility of party arrangements and political manipulation in determining the president, thus making the election campaign much more intriguing and diverse.

players whose votes were largely given to influence the results of other candidates.

From the start, the front runners were Sauli Niinistö of the National Coalition Party; Timo Soini of the True Finns, who unexpectedly failed to achieve the same success he had during the parliamentary elections; and the Centre Party’s Paavo Väyrnynen, who came into politics during the time of Kekkonen, and whom the party did not initially endorse but did so only later, when it became evident that Väyrynen had a large support base. The Social Democrats, whose candidate Lipponen was considered too old, suffered an embarrassing failure. Biaudet, Essayah and Arhinmäki were marginal

In the first round of the election, on January 22, none of the candidates received more than 50 percent of the votes. It is worth noting that most of the candidates who did not make it into the second round vowed to give their votes to Niinistö. On February 5, Niinistö faced off with Haavisto, who surprisingly came in second in the first round.


As expected, the main policy issues of the election were the European Union

and the euro zone crisis, economic issues, rising Russian influence, and NATO membership. The campaign was a typical Nordic one - polite and circumspect, and free of mudslinging. In the event that criticism was expressed, it was directed toward supporters and not the candidates themselves. It could even be said that the presidential elections were boring and uneventful. The most extreme actions involved the tearing down of campaign posters. Interestingly, these attacks were mainly directed toward Timo Soini. Nor was there anything surprising in the television appearances or debates, in which the presence of several presidential candidates could be described as etiolated. The exceptions were Niinistö and Haavisto, in which case both candidates and their backing were strong.

Mihkel Maripuu/Postimees

Henn Põlluaas

More than 1.8 million people voted Sauli Niinistö into office (Haavisto received 1.1 million votes). Niinistö received 62.6 percent of the votes and Haavisto 37.4 percent. The new president received more votes than his predecessors, Martti Ahtisaari and Tarja Halonen. More importantly, the election marked the end of the Social Democrats’ three decades in power, now replaced by the victory of a conservative world view. For that reason the election represented, at least in theory, a significant turning point. On the other hand, voter participation had not been so low since Urho Kaleva Kekkonen was elected president in 1978. Another curiosity was an unprecedented number of spoilt election ballots - more than 25,000 in just the second round.

Sauli Niinistö, the presidential candidate of the National Coalition Party, is followed by a TV crew on his way to the election night rally at the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki on 5 February 2012.

As was already mentioned, the biggest surprise of the presidential election was



the success of Haavisto, who managed to effectively use social media to his benefit. In fact, widespread use of social media and social networking by all of the candidates was the newest characteristic of the presidential election. An elections expert featured in Finnish broadcasting, Risto Uimonen, has said that, in the end, Haavisto’s homosexuality and partnership with a younger South American man became his fatal flaw in the election. Other influencing factors included Haavisto’s civil service (the president serves as supreme commander of the armed forces), lack of higher education, and the fact that he is not a church member. There were doubts about whether

Haavisto could cope in complicated situations, such as in Russian relations. His fairly large number of votes was also the result of protest votes against Niinistö. Haavisto himself said that time was against him and he would only have needed a few more weeks to reach success. The new president, Niinistö, is popular among the people of Finland and has a long political experience. His supporters voted for traditional values, security and stability. The election will likely have little impact on EU-Finnish relations, although Niinistö’s campaign was sometimes critical of the EU. Niinistö does not

have the same kind of close personal ties with Estonia as did his forerunner. During his campaign, Niinistö repeatedly asserted that Finland will not join NATO. Although baffling for us, the lukewarm attitude toward NATO tends to make Finland, lying between two centers of power, a geopolitical gray zone. Although Russia is not currently seen as a direct threat, its invasion of Georgia has stirred caution in Finland as well. Compared to his forerunner Halonen, Niinistö, who has the rank of captain in the army reserve, is more concrete in his views of Russia. From the Estonian standpoint, this could be beneficial. 


The Finnish presidential elections – surprises this way and that Although Pekka Haavisto was considered the big surprise in the Finnish presidential vote – not so much because of his greenness but the fact that he was gay – the elections offered a sampler of the unexpected. From a broader point of view, it could be said the real surprise was the relatively poor showing by the True Finns candidate Timo Soini. As the True Finns were more successful than expected in the last general elections and the main architect of their success was the party leader Timo Soini, it was expected that Soini would give presidential favourite Sauli Niinistö a run for his money. But he did not do so. Already before the results of the first round of the presidential election were in, it was clear that the voters at the presidential election would go by a completely different logic than in the parliamentary elections. Although Finland’s president no longer has the power the post did in the Kekkonen or Koivisto era, Finnish voters still think of the president (perhaps from force of habit) as the country’s most influential political figure. Voters act accordingly in the elections, where two things play a deciding role:


the candidate’s personal qualities and previously accumulated political capital. It may seem paradoxical but in this context, Soini was hurt rather than helped by his colourful countrified image and his vernacular and his corpulent frame. Finns saw these qualities as being well suited for the village arena and parliament but not on the more refined floors on which the president must tread as the figurehead of his or her country. The banker-turned-politician Sauli Niinistö or long-serving former foreign minister Paavo Väyrynen did not raise doubts about whether they had good table manners. That was first mark in Soini’s disfavour. The second one was certainly his scant political capital. He may be a bright comet in Finland’s (and Europe’s) political firmament, but Niinistö, Väyrynen and other candidates had much more to show for themselves in this department and this was a second minus for Soini. And the third negative was Soini’s Euroscepticism. This was a salient point at parliamentary elections. In pluralistic politics, it is simply logical that someone must also represent Eurosceptic voters, especially when the rest of the political elite openly reaches into the

pocket of Finnish taxpayers in “the EU interest”. But a Eurosceptic president is another thing entirely, as a firm doctrine in this area runs the risk of isolation from Europe. And the average Finn is too cautious and pragmatic to allow this. At any rate, Finns live day in and day out knowing their eastern neighbour is. And as toothless and clumsy as the European Union may be in foreign policy, Finns still see it as better than nothing as a security guarantee. Furthermore, by the time of the presidential election, Soini had lost the trump card he had had during the Eduskunta elections – the Greece card. Greece’s long and protracted crisis, and the entire long and protracted crisis of the euro currency no longer were topics that would have brought voters out to the polls in droves. And thus Soini had to settle for a worse than hoped showing, although not nearly a poor one. As to the big surprise of these elections, Pekka Haavisto, he will have a hard time repeating his success at the next elections, as the novelty of an openly gay candidate who rallied the left and liberals will no longer be fresh the next time. Thus he, like Soini, will have to continue accumulating liquid and convertible political capital. 

A velvety week in Georgeland Aimar Altosaar Estonia’s good friend in the southern Caucasus has many names. The vernacular, Sakhartvelo, is quite unaccustomed to Estonian ears, “Gruusia” (after the Russian “Gruzia”) and “Georgia” are better known. But why couldn’t we call such an important and friendly land after the Estonian counterpart of Georg – “Jürimaa”? It would sound something like “Georgeland” in English, and that is what I will use in this piece, for the sake of practice. Georgians use the word “velvet” to describe the period when the summer heat has let up but autumn has not yet arrived, when nature is already preparing for winter but northerners can still derive pleasure and vitamin D by sunbathing. Velvet season lasts from late September to the second half of October, grapes are harvested and all of the market counters are full of agricultural produce. I think this is the best time to visit a people who have been living between the Caucasian mountain ranges for millennia. The capital, Tbilisi, has many good hotels but the well-informed traveller will find a selection of pleasant guesthouses, homes converted to B&B type affairs. We partook of the Georgelanders’ hospitality at a four-storey home stay called Babilina, featuring exciting, spontaneous architecture in the heart of the old town, near the Patriarchs’ Garden. Tbilisi’s city centre has everything experienced and more demanding tourists might crave – the old town’s warren of picturesque streets rendered exciting for the pedestrian by the topography, the main street, Rustaveli Avenue, with its wide sidewalks and whimsical street sculptures, the downtown area with its plentiful street cafés and wine bars, the glass pedestrian bridge over the River Kura (Mtkvari) – the Peace Bridge – and busy riverside thoroughfares. In the evenings, the city is illuminated, often luxuriantly so, with each tower and façade of any note lit by coloured beams of light. The city lies along a long valley between the mountains, following the curves of

the river, and in the evening lights it is an entrancing sight.

the River Narva, to say nothing of Karelia, formerly controlled by Finland.

Georgeophiles will quickly realize that this country and people have a very long history, their cultural stratum is inconceivably dense and closely connected with classical Asia Minor of antiquity and ancient Greece. The oldest churches were built in the 4th and 5th century CE, as Georgeland is one of the oldest Christian countries in the world. The people remain devoutly Orthodox today and churches are never empty in this land. The sacral architecture is different from that of the neighbouring peoples, the tapering church towers seem European, some spires are Gothically slender. An untrained eye cannot of course distinguish how the church interiors, iconography and liturgy differ from other Orthodox traditions, but it is clear that the architecture and symbolism are unusual and unique to Georgeland.

A few dozen kilometres to the south of Gori is the cave town of Uplistsikhe, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. In its heyday, this amazing site, the beginnings of which date more than 3,000 years ago, was home to more than 20,000 people and an important link on the Silk Road between the Byzantine Empire and China. Only about a thousand lived in the caves proper, primarily patricians; the rest of the people lived in outlying settlements on the hillsides. Living quarters as well as temples, wine pressing facilities and artisans’ spaces were hewn into the stone – even a small theatre and seating. Although the city was abandoned 500 years ago, we can still see the beauty of the cave architecture right down to the intricate details of the ornaments, which have withstood countless earthquakes and even the bonfires lit by generations of shepherds for whom these were luxurious place of repose. A local guide, educated as an agronomist, and named Stalber (a common name around Gori), tells us that it was right here, in the southern part of Shida Khartli, that people first began to grow grapes, 9,000 years ago. Today’s grape cultivars mostly date back to this part of Georgeland, says the guide. In the 9th century, when Uplistsikhe still was thriving, a basilica was erected on the mountain that rises over the town. Today it and the cave town have been restored and made it readily viewable by culturally inclined tourists.

Gori is just 80 kilometres away from Tbilisi along the four-lane Batumi road. The historical Shida Khartli region, the Georgian heartland, has been blatantly rent apart, as Tskhinvali, the centre of the Russian-occupied region, is just 30 kilometres to the north. Even though Ossetians have sporadically settled here only in the last century, the region was dubbed South Ossetia on some bizarre whim by Gori native Jossif Dzhugashvili, known to the world as Stalin. That was as much pretext as Russia needed to overrun the southern side the Greater Caucasus and, along with occupying Abkhazia, put Georgia in a constant state of alert. Whole villages of big block houses – which can be seen lining the Gori-Tbilisi road – have been built for the 300,000 refugees displaced from the occupied areas. In spite of its extremely limited resources, the state is aiding its compatriots, but this contingent of inhabitants will remain a social problem for many years to come. At the same time, the areas now under the control of the large northern neighbour are devoid of people and to a large extent unused. We recognize the same signature despoliation in the Seto region of Estonia and on the other side of

The historical Mtskheta-Mtianeti region lies north of Tbilisi. Part of this region, too – like Shida Khartli – is occupied by Russia. Along with the capital, Georgeland has 12 regions. Russia has lopped off pieces of four of these, swallowing the fifth region – Abkhazia – entire. President Mihheil Saakashvili was fortunate in able to bring a sixth region – Adzharia – back under central government control. Due to foreign aggression, Georgians have to secure and rebuild their country in a situation where hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless, historical routes were cut off and normal



Private collection

Peace Bridge in Tbilisi.

relations between different parts of the country were disrupted. Mtskheta-Mtianetia is the southern terminus of the famous Georgian Military Road over the Greater Caucasus. The first half of this historical route leads north from Tbilisi along the valley of the River Aragvi until the great Jinvali reservoir, from there on along the Tetri Aragvi valley to the Jvuri gorge. From that point on, the military road follows the River Tereki valley. As the Russian occupation has closed other key routes over the High Caucasus (such as the Roki tunnel), this road, which ends in Vladikavkaz, Russia, has become an important transit channel for Armenian and Azerbaijan truckers. Up to the modern, luxurious Gudauri ski resort, the highway is in good condition and perfectly safe in spite of the mountainous terrain. From there on, to the Jvuri Pass at an elevation of 2,379 metres and down to Kobi village, the military road can only be negotiated safely by tanks. As Georgian vehicles cannot pass beyond the border checkpoint to Russia, Tbilisi is not interested in the costly maintenance of the road. This is what the locals say. The road to the Jvuri Pass is an arduous journey in an ordinary Mercedes micro-


bus, but the Caucasian truckers appeared to be quite self-confident in driving this road with its potholes and risk of falling rock. No doubt they have experienced worse! Along the way, tourists can marvel at the stunning Caucasian peaks and a grotesque mosaic installation which has adorned a flatter roadside area since 1983. This work, dedicated to the eternal friendship of the Russian and Georgian peoples and the bicentennial of the voluntary union of Georgia and Russia, marks the agreement signed between King Erekle II and Russia’s Catherine II to consign the Kakheti and Khartli areas to a Russian protectorate. Especially ghastly-looking on the backdrop of the history of the last decades is the depiction of the Russian soldier as victor. The difficult trip is worth it, as a proper road begins again immediately north of Jvari. The banks of the upper Tereki are lined with villages. The high mountainsides and Alpine meadows with flocks of sheep offer picturesque views. The biggest and most important town in these parts is Stephantsminda, formerly known as Kazbegi – tidy and European, a regional centre bolstered by tourism whose best days were back when holidaymakers from Vladikavkaz and others from Rus-

sia came here. Northwest of Stephantsminda is famous Mount Kazbek, rising to 5.047 metres above sea level. Between clouds only glimpses of the high volcanic cone can be seen, but still, the views are high-mountain scenery at its best. The famous Holy Trinity Church of Gergeti can be seen clearly on the crest of a lower mountain. This is a favourite destination of many hikers. We did not undertake the three-hour hike due to time constraints, and used the services of some drivers of 4WD who took us up extremely exciting switchbacks of dirt road in half an hour. Built in the 14th century the Gergeti Church is certainly not among the oldest in Georgia, but thanks to its location, with the high mountainsides of the High Caucasus directly behind it, it is one of the most iconic. The people of Stephantsminda frequent this church on every holiday, showing the outstanding physical condition, for the route is not an easy one and few drive 4WD vehicles. Fairly typically in these parts, monks live at the church, with their household affairs arranged around the church on the narrow mountain ridge. Touring Georgia, one realizes why a woman in the closing scenes of Tengiz Abuladze’s film Repentance says that

Private collection

there is no point to roads that do not lead to a place of worship. The third tour our party undertook – eastward from Tbilisi, to Kakheti – also took us to a number of shrines and sanctuaries. The southern part of this county is a high steppe enlivened only by the sheep-farming city Udabno, where all buildings not in use by people – including half-finished structures – have been converted to hay barns. The south-eastern border of Georgeland runs along a relatively low, weathered mountain range where monks from Assyria back in the 6th century hewed out monastery rooms that have played a very important role in the country’s history over the centuries. In the 12th century Georgian King Demetrius I moved here after abdicating the throne. He was the author of the religious hymn “Shen Khar Venakhi” (“You Are a Vineyard”), an ode to divine viticulture. The monastery was closed during the Soviet era and the Red Army base set up here trained soldiers for deployment to Afghanistan. In 1988 massive student demonstrations forced the Red Army to pull out and today the monastery is completely restored and full of life. Kakheti is one of the most acclaimed wine-making regions in Georgia, with the vintages of the Telavi valley especially renowned. During the velvet season, the roadsides are full of sellers of local produce and most of them will offer travellers very good local Saperavi wine and chacha (homemade spirits). This bounty is offered generously to everyone interested in trying it. An inexperienced traveller has to be careful, as a few draughts can easily jeopardize the rest of the excursion! And certainly a goodly amount of fruit and wine can be procured from the roadside farm women – most of the sellers are sun-bronzed peasant women clad in folk costume – to enjoy them later in good company. The prices are reasonable, but everyone should be sure to try haggling skills, always a good way to communicate with people in the south. Sighnaghi is an attractive regional centre in Kakheti, which has been developed into a tourist trap. Everything is as it should be in a typical European mountain town, with winding cobblestone streets and a towering town hall spire. The city with its souvenir shops and cafes may be too sterile for thrill-seeking tourists, but

The Bibilon pension.

Georgeland undoubtedly needs romantic spots like these, too, to become a destination for bus package tourists. A few kilometres to the south is the lavish Bodhe convent, site of the St. Nino nunnery. It offers good views of the mountain horizon, walks in the quiet convent park and a resplendent array of memorabilia from the gift shop. To truly get to know Georgeland, one must spend a number of velvety weeks there. A week might be enough to get a sense of the country’s cultural wealth, but the country has enough to offer to fill entire years. Even today, Georgeland is full of positive surprises, as a new era is dawning far from the city centre of Tbilisi. The government plans to consolidate all services in the Justice Ministry’s area of administration at a network of service outlets so that people can tend to all of their business with the state in a short time – from birth certificates and mar-

riage licenses to establishing companies. In Rustavi, a city of about 100,000 ten or so kilometres southeast of Tbilisi, we see the first such service outlet, of which 22 are planned countrywide. The stateprovided service is likely more progressive than in most countries in continental Europe. Like Estonia, Georgeland must be an overachiever and forward-looking to ensure a secure future for its people. The people seem to be aware of this, and there are clear signs that this inseparably European country’s rich history could one day be complemented by becoming an exemplary part of the European Union. The trip to Georgia took place from 23 September 2011 to 3 October accompanied by former and current staff members of the State Archive. 



Maailma Vaade

Editor-in-chief: Mart Helme College: Mart Helme, Tunne Kelam, Kadri Kopli, Aimar Altosaar, Berit Teeäär, Marko Mihkelson, Andres Herkel, Mart Nutt,Veiko Lukmann Editorial board: Anneli Kivisiv, Kaja Villem, Kaja Sõrg Editor: Hille Saluäär Contact: +372 5690 9237, Publisher: Tunne Kelami büroo, Kivisilla 4-9, Tallinn 10145, Estonia +372 773 4201,


English version of the magazine is available at

Contents Editor-in-chief George Friedman, The Next 100 Years The Estonian parliament’s role in shaping foreign policy, Interview with Mart Nutt A Reflection on Basic Principles and Ideas of Christian Democracy and Conservatism, Steven Van Hecke Observations on Iranian Cultural History and Ideology, Vladimir Sazonov

The frontrunners for the US Republican presidential nomination: former Sen. Rick Santorum, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at a debate in Tampa Bay, Florida.


Damaged houses from the Syrian government forces’ shelling in Homs province, Syria, in early February 2012. A government offensive here has created a deepening humanitarian crisis.

“Arab summer” in Jordan, Toomas Pallo Population growth in North Africa and Turkey, Vootele Hansen China: punching above its weight, Mart Helme The worldview and values of the successful Chinese, Krista Reinhold Finland’s Pivotal Presidential Election of 2012, Henn Põlluaas

Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba speaks as Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda attends a rally to call on Russia to return a group of islands, called Northern Territories by Tokyo and the Southern Kurils by Moscow, in Tokyo on February 7, 2012. The banner in the background reads,”Return the four northern islands”. Moscow is said to be planning a referendum on the future of the islands.


The Finnish presidential elections – surprises this way and that A velvety week in Georgeland, Aimar Altosaar




10 15 19 21

24 27 28 29

This is a joint publication of the Centre for European Studies, the Pro Patria Institute and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. This publication receives funding from the European Parliament. The Centre for European Studies, Pro Patria Institute, Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the European Parliament assume no responsibility for facts or opinions expressed in this publication or any subsequent use of the information contained therein. Sole responsibility lies on the authors of the publication.

Cover photo: Scanpix

ISSN-L 2228-0200 ISSN 2228-0200