Nationalist July in Estonia

From July 1 to 3, the nationalist youth movement Blue Awakening (Sinine Äratus) held its annual summer camp in the South Estonian village of Päidla. In the summer camp, Triin Kuusk, a 23-year-old activist from West Estonia, was elected the new leader of Blue Awakening. “The nation-state and national conservative worldview is torn into an ugly battle against globalism and ever more forceful federalism,” she said. “The youth have a carrying role in breaking this widespread liberal thought pattern presented as infallible and to show the way in renewing the main values of mankind: tradition, preservation of national heritage and nature, community, morals, responsibility and family.”

As always, the summer camp was marked by ancestral rituals, an oath to spark the new national awakening, and meditative hikes in the Estonian wilderness. In the final morning, nationalists gathered on a Viking Age burial hill to greet the sunrise with burning torches.

The Estonian political scene is being dominated by the run-up towards the approaching presidential election. Currently the people have no say in electing the Estonian president, a fault that the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) has promised to change. The first round of the election will take place on August 29 in the parliament and will probably fail as no candidate is likely to gather the required two thirds of votes.

The nationalist candidate Mart Helme, also the chairman of EKRE, will run against yet unconfirmed establishment candidate who will likely be either Siim Kallas, a former high-ranking Communist official and EU commissioner, Marina Kaljurand, the liberal foreign minister with Russian descent, Eiki Nestor, a Social Democratic speaker of the parliament, or Urmas Paet, a former liberal foreign minister and a current MEP. According to a public poll by the Estonian Public Broadcasting, nearly 80% of more than 2000 respondents would like to see Helme as the next president.

July was also very eventful in the global scene, seeing new developments in the terrorist threats fueled by the migration wave into Europe and escalations in the Middle East, all of which have implications for nationalism. In Nice attack on July 14, among others, two Estonian citizens were killed and four injured.

“This is an organized war waged by one religion against the Western civilization,” commented Mart Helme. “The recent attacks in Germany and France is a sign that the war between European and Islamic civilizations is only in its first stage.” The Conservative People’s Party of Estonia warned that to keep terrorism away from Estonia, the government has to stop going along with the Western open borders policy and set Hungary, Poland and other Eastern European countries as an example.

Blue Awakening reacted to the attacks, saying that Europeans need to start seeing the Islamic community as a group. “We don’t want cameras on every street corner or harsher security checks in the airports,” commented Ruuben Kaalep from the Blue Awakening. “We don’t want to hear moralizing that this is the “new normality”. We don’t even want retaliatory airstrikes in Middle East. We want at last to be taken seriously in ethnic questions.” Blue Awakening stated it supports all political forces in Europe who are for stopping the mass invasion and pushing forward a remigration into Africa and Middle East.

After the failed Kemalist uprising by the Turkish army against the Islamist direction of president Erdoğan, many Estonian politicians praised the so-called “Turkish democracy” that had defeated the coup attempt. Estonian nationalists took a different stance. Turkey is just about as democratic country as Russia, noted Blue Awakening. “During Erdoğan’s rule, the border of Europe has been made clear – it runs on this side of Turkey and no farther,” said Kert Urmas Raudvere, an activist of Blue Awakening in a press release.

On July 10, three left-wing MEPs, including pro-Russian Yana Toom from Estonia and Tatjana Ždanoka from Latvia, visited Syria and met with president Bashar al-Assad, calling to lift the EU sanctions against Syria. In an article published in Estonian media, Ruuben Kaalep wrote that Toom and Ždanoka are Russian puppets who should have no say in a policy of an ethnostate. “However, meeting with Assad is not an anti-Estonian or anti-European activity,” wrote Kaalep. “On the contrary, it shows the failure of European politicians that Russia has taken the initiative in Syria.”

The first principle that the West should take regarding the Middle Eastern conflicts should be non-interventionism, but this has already been violated by support to the Syrian Islamist opposition and thus fuelling the civil war, argued Kaalep. Then, the West is left with two choices: secular Arab nationalist dictatorships or radical Sunni Islamism. “Trying to stop Assad’s tanks equals directly helping the caliphate,” wrote Kaalep. “Putin has cleverly used the misdeeds of the West, supporting the legitimate Syrian government himself.” By lifting the sanctions and cooperating with Assad in order to bring peace to Syria, West could neutralize the rising Russian influence in Middle East, said Kaalep.

In the middle of July, American presidential candidate Donald Trump who has voiced similar calls for non-interventionism, claimed that the United States should only be committed to defending the countries that have contributed their fair share to the NATO. As Estonia is one of only five NATO countries who have filled the requirement of contributing at least 2% of its GDP to defence, EKRE’s vice chairman Martin Helme said he shares Trump’s concern.

“I believe this question is completely justified,” said Helme. “It’s namely our party that has been saying for a long time that making initial independent defense capability strong is the most important thing, allies being the next component.” He believes that other NATO states, including Latvia and Lithuania, should be pressured to build up their militaries, especially in the current geopolitical situation with the rising threat from Russia.

On July 30, many Estonian nationalists took part of the annual commemoration event on the Blue Hills in Sinimäe village where soldiers from many European countries, including the Estonian Legion, halted the Soviet offensive in 1944, allowing tens of thousands of Estonians to escape the country and the legitimate Estonian government to take power in Tallinn until the country was finally occupied. Representatives of both Blue Awakening and EKRE laid flowers to the memorial and met with the veterans of the Estonian Legion.

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