Getting down at the Finno-Ugric festival

Helsingin Sanomat has gotten hold of the schedule (fi) for President Tarja Halonen's trip to the Finno-Ugric festival in Saransk. There will be a bilateral meeting with Putin, during which the dark lord will presumably try to bend our Tarja to his will; a dinner; the opening of a new theater; and, of course, the festival - featuring a handicrafts exhibition and a folk dress demonstration. In the evening a helicopter will take three leaders to visit a school and a cultural center in the village of Staraja Terizm. Party on, I say.

Alas, everyone isn't quite as placid. Re the guest list issue, previously addressed here, euro|topics provides a partial translation of an article (hu) by Gyula Máté:

This summit has little to do with the aspects historians, ethnologists and Finno-Ugrics find interesting because the current Hungarian head of government is about as interested in the Finno-Ugric past as Putin is - namely not at all. By excluding Estonia from this summit Russia wants to demonstrate that it has the power to isolate the Estonians from their 'historical' partners... Hungary is economically dependent on Russia. The summit in Saransk highlights the dilemma of Hungarian foreign policy: How can we move closer to Russia without harming our Euro-Atlantic integration?

It's true that the meeting has little to do with the aspects historians and ethnologists find interesting. It's not a meeting of historians or ethnologists, after all, but of political leaders who have current political issues to discuss. The meeting has to do with bilateral relations and, we can hope, the living conditions of Finno-Ugric peoples in Russia. I'm not sure why this should be considered a strike against it.

For another thing, I'm still not quite clear on how the meeting is supposed to isolate the Estonians. Finnish leaders meet with Estonians all the time and will continue to do so. What sort of isolation is that? If a Finno-Ugric summit between Hungary, Finland, and Estonia is needed - is it? - arranging one won't require Russia's permission. This meeting obviously won't function as one and isn't intended to do so.


Giustino said...

I don't think it really matters that much. Putin hates Estonia, most Estonians don't like him, Putin, it appears, is a bully who takes things personally, and that's about it.

What would Putin and Ilves talk about anyway? Gardening? A trip to Saransk for Ilves would be a waste of time.

Ari said...

"Hey, Tommy..."

"What is it, Vlad?"

"Do you s'pose we could be a Nordic country too?"

Giustino said...

You mean be ignored by Russia despite having a lurid, war-torn past (I can post the conversation between Mannerheim and Hitler here if you like)?

It's going to take some big attitude adjustments for Estonia and Russia to get along, and it mostly comes on the side of Russia.

The whole Bronze BS means that Russian relations will be cool until the Putin-Lavrovs are replaced. Hopefully that will happen next year.

Ari said...

Er... no, I don't mean that at all. Wanting Russia to be ignored by Russia is nonsensical. The joke was to portray Putin as a secret admirer of Nordic values, which is funny because it's not true.

Giustino said...

Well, Ilves went to Greece instead to build EU relationships. Looks like he took my advice ;)

Ari said...

Good on him. Incidentally, Foreign Minister Kanerva said that Estonia may be receiving an invitation next year. Apparently Halonen brought up the topic with Putin.