Should Estonians listen to Paavo Lipponen?

Giustino asks in the comments re Paavo Lipponen's take on Estonian foreign policy:

Should we in Estonia listen to his opinions or is he basically useless?

In my opinion everyone should listen to Lipponen; he's grouchy, thin-skinned, and opinionated to a degree that makes much of what he writes or says rather entertaining. I just hope that he takes offense to Estonian criticism and fires back, because no one issues a rejoinder quite like Paavo Lipponen. So if you like colorful denunciations, he's far from useless.

Another question is whether Lipponen knows what he's talking about. He's generally pro-NATO - when there isn't an election campaign going on, that is - and very pro-EU. The latter trait was a prominent feature of his prime ministership. He has a fairly good reputation for his handling of international issues, but that was built more on supposed negotiating prowess than any special foreign policy insight.

But really, the main thing here is that what we need is a proper row between Lipponen and Estonians. If I may make a recommendation, Estonians should say something like, "Now I see the Finnish media had Lipponen's number all along." (Lipponen hates large segments of the Finnish media.) If that fails to get a rise, I'd go with "With comments like that, no wonder Finnish voters opted for Anneli Jäätteenmäki." (Lipponen really, really hates Jäätteenmäki.)


Giustino said...

Well, he arguable might have a point. Maybe Estonia is wasting its time in Ukraine and Georgia. Estonia is a country of 1.3 million. How much is its diplomatic service supposed to be able to accomplish?

I think the pipeline criticism though masks Finland's frustration that the ball is in its court. Estonia said 'no, thanks', Sweden raised its environmental concerns, and now it's up to Finland and they don't like it, they'd rather have had the Estonians deal with it.

Germany and Russia should have talked to these countries before they decided to build a pipeline.

egan said...

Wait a second. He's pro-NATO? I was told yesterday that he was a prime example of anti-NATO, but not pacifist, thinking in this debate.

Ari said...

Egan, here's an article (fi) that outlines Lipponen's thinking on NATO.

"According to Lipponen, Finland should be involved in all Western democracies' cooperative organizations. With weapons technology becoming more expensive already during the next decade, the moment of truth will arrive and Finland must seek cooperation to guarantee its safety.

"EU defense cooperation isn't a suitable alternative according to Lipponen, because EU won't develop in the near future into a military alliance based on collective security along the lines of NATO's Article V.

"According to the Speaker the fundamental question is, doesn't Finland need security guarantees such as those in Article V. He also asks whether a partnership for peace and a good bilateral relationship with the United States would be enough if Finland needed help to repel a large-scale attack."

The article is over a year old, but he hasn't changed his mind as far as I know. The only time he sounded vaguely anti-NATO was when he "warned" voters of Sauli Niinistö's pro-NATO leanings during the last presidential campaign.

Ari said...

Giustino, I think the general point he makes is fairly good, but it might not be fair to Estonia. I note that Paet doesn't argue that cooperation directed against Russia is needed, but rather disagrees with Lipponen's view of Estonia's motivation.

egan said...

Thanks Ari. I must have my Paavos mixed up, and was probably thinking of Värynen.