Yesterday died in Tallinn internationally most known Estonian writer Jaan Kross. Jaan Kross was born 19.02.1920 together with independent Estonian Republic. He belonged to the promising generation, which was born and educated in independent Estonia. The hopes and dreams of this generation were unfortunately destroyed on 23.August 1939, when two totalitarian dictatorships – nazi Germany and communist Russia signed Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, starting the Second World War and dividing World between themselves. In 1940 was Estonia occupied by the Soviet Union and times of terror started. As other members of its generation Kross joined resistance movement against both dictatorships. In 1944 was Kross arrested by SD and when attempt to restore the independence was crushed and Soviets returned, Kross was arrested again – for the same reason as in nazi times – restoration attempt of Estonian independence. Kross had to spend several years in GULAG. When after the death of Stalin prisoners were released, Kross returned to Estonia and made its debute in literature. At the beginning there were poems, then plays and then novels. Kross studied first Estonian history, describing hard choices between resistance and will to live. His work helped to keep national spirit during most difficult times of Soviet repressions. After the restoration of Estonian independence, Kross turned in several novels to the fate of its generation between nazi and communist dictatorships. At the same time his novels became internationally more and more known, translated and recognized. Kross was several times presented to the Nobel Prize of literature, but unfortunately never got it. For some people in West Kross has not been most comfortable figure. His works remembered too well that there is actually no difference between nazi and communist crimes and it was and is necessary to fight against both evils, keeping human identity alive. Jaan Kross is dead, but his work is living on.
Ivars Godmanis, head of Latvian government in 1990-1993, has been set up as Latvia’s new Prime Minister. I believe this to be good news both for Latvia and the Baltics as a whole. I remember him from times past as a good partner and also a government leader daring to take unpopular but necessary decisions, even at the cost of personal popularity. Back then, Godmanis was especially interested in energy. I hope this will continue to be the case. Dependence on Russian gas and lack of necessary interconnectors in the European direction requires a greater unity between us than we have had up to now. We are under strong political pressure. By playing on the interests of various circles in different Baltic States, it is regrettably quite easy for Russia to divide us. We should also not forget that the Eastern side may soon start experiencing difficulties with supplies, as the necessary investments into new gas fields and infrastructure have not been made.
The Baltic States need to upgrade their cooperation to draw their European partners’ attention to the fact that the European Union should not be abandoning the Energy Charter Treaty which represents EU values, free markets and the rule of law. More specifically, this means making the European-Russian cooperation dependent on the ratification of Energy Charter by Russia. By signing the Energy Charter, Russia of her own free will agreed to its conditions and requirements. Therefore, she must now keep the legal commitments she has undertaken. Pursuant to Energy Charter article 45(1), Russia is legally bound even if the treaty has not yet been ratified by her.
In case of possible cut-offs of gas supplies or threats of that kind, it provides a functioning mechanism of dispute settlement, which will be helpful in cases like Druzhba in Lithuania, for instance. Energy Charter is also a better opportunity than the NordStream for timely and well priced supply of gas into Europe. When it comes to the Baltic States, it reduces their dependency on Russia. Energy Charter also supports open energy markets, which in turn can be used for easing the hold the Gazprom monopoly has both in Russia and Europe. The energy relations on the Eastern direction currently lack rules and norms. Therefore, the EU must in no way back off from the Charter’s requirements nor water then down. It is in the best interests of the Baltic States themselves to take coordinated action in this field and to make joint comments. The stabilization of the political situation in Latvia would be a major factor in helping achieve that goal.
Republican President candidates have started their tax debate well. It has been sad, that Bush administration failed so badly in their tax reform approach. Praising abroad radical tax reforms as introduction of flat tax in Estonia or Slovakia, President Bush failed to do the same at home. It is now unfortunately harder than some years ago as the Republican majority in Congress is lost. In this context it is specially good that at least the Republican candidates have made proposals on radical tax reform, promising not only to cut taxes but to simplify the tax system. When in former campaigns Steve Forbes has been lonely voice campaigning for flat tax, then now sales tax or some sort of flat tax looks to become more main stream topic. It is however necessary to be more precise on these plans. As in other countries, these plans will be furiously attacked from other side. Republicans must have clear understandings, what they are planning to do and party must have clear and common position on this subject. Otherwise the campaign for tax reform can backfire on the same way how it happened in last German elections.