Skip to main content

I go to Estonia, and return

As a directly elected member of the UK Lib Dems’ ELDR (European Liberal Democratic and Reform Party) Council delegation, I went to their meeting in Estonia, on the far side of the EU and on the edge of Russia, the weekend before last. The meeting got some good preparatory work done, we made some good contacts and our Estonian hosts were most hospitable.
What a remarkable city Tallinn is. In a long visit to the Occupation Museum there I learned something of the terrible ordeal the Estonians endured following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, whereby Hitler and Stalin agreed that Russia could have the previously independent Baltic States – a deal between treacherous crooks that soon fell apart. As a result the Estonians were occupied three times - first by the Russians, then by the Nazis, then by the Russians again, this time until 1991. Despite terrible oppression they retained their spirit and in 1991 got their independence back. What a wonderful people.
I returned to England the eco-friendly way by ferries and trains via the Baltic and Scandinavia. This trip has vividly demonstrated to me the vast geographical size of the EU and the scale of its achievement in uniting so enormous an area by voluntary and peaceful means.
The ferry from Tallinn to Stockholm was a glittering, extremely comfortable palace, the weather was calm and as the sun set over the silvery Baltic Sea the scene looked idyllic. The following morning, in pale sunshine, the ferry glided quietly between the islands of the eastern Swedish archipelago. It was an entrancing voyage. This made it all the more shocking to learn that the Baltic is now an endangered sea, where swimming in summer is dangerous due to poisonous algae blooms. No matter how far I travel, I find it impossible to escape the signs of our planet’s sickness.
In Stockholm I boarded a fast inter-city train that travelled south-west across Sweden, then changed to a local train that crossed a causeway over the sea between Sweden and Denmark - a remarkable engineering feat - to Copenhagen. I had a few hours to look round there, then took another inter-city train travelling west, crossing Denmark from island to island via tunnels and bridges. In Zealand I changed trains for Esbjerg where I boarded MS Dana Sirena for Harwich. This ship, too, was extremely comfortable. In addition to passengers the ship carried a cargo of sea containers, the kind that hurtle through Colchester station on freight trains and make you feel like a midget. I counted 29.
The micro-economics of all this were crazy as returning by cheap flight would have been many times cheaper, but I would have missed out on so much that I have seen and learned.
Back to leafletting for the local elections…

Comments

jason said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jason said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jason said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Popular posts from this blog

My Remainer's Diary Day 299

For 298 days I have kept my #Remainer's Diary on Facebook. Two nights ago my FB account became inaccessible without explanation. So I'm back on Blogger.
Diary Day 299: the UK's Office of Budget Responsibility published its first Fiscal Risks Report, a 312-page tome, in accordance with a requirement introduced by Parliament in October 2015 that the OBR must produce a fiscal risks report at least once every two years. It is freely downloadable by anyone.  Fiscal is a fancy word for pertaining to government finances. Derivation: 16th century, from Latin fiscālis concerning the state treasury, from fiscus public money, the public purse. It is about government income and spending.  The Fiscal Risks Report refers to a wide range of "fiscal pressures", and says that the risks posed by Brexit "do not supplant the possible shocks and likely pressures that we have already discussed, but they could affect the likelihood and impact of many of them."  It states that imp…

My #Remainer's Diary Day 300: constitutional crisis is coming

My #Remainer's Diary Day 300: I mull over a joint statement from the First Ministers of Wales and Scotland, Carwyn Jones and Nicola Sturgeon about the repeal bill. It says: “We have... put forward constructive proposals about how we can deliver an outcome which will protect the interests of all the nations in the UK, safeguard our economies and respect devolution.  “Regrettably, the bill does not do this. Instead, it is a naked power grab, an attack on the founding principles of devolution and could destabilise our economies.”  So a constitutional crisis that was latent ever since 23rd June 2016 is due to be thrashed out in Westminster debates.  A spokeswoman for the Maybot said she was not aware of a contingency plan for what might happen if Scotland or Wales refused legislative consent.  That is apart from the rows there will be about the bill's Henry VIII clause powers and putting human rights in doubt.  As the clock ticks, businesses act to protect themselves.  EasyJet announced…

Iran: the minority that will not let go

I am thinking about places in the world where women are oppressed. Iran for example. There, I gather, militia roam the streets intimidating and attacking women who behave or dress in ways of which they disapprove. In my country, such militia would be arrested and tried for public order offences. It is not that the British have no opinions about what is acceptable dress or behaviour in public and what is not. Of course we have opinions. But individuals behave in a way that is their own choice, provided that it does not contravene a specific law, and it may be a poor choice, but it is the individual's and not imposed. Live and let live, and mind your own business, are mottos here. And gangs who roam the streets trying to impose their own ideas on others tend to get arrested.
So what essentially is different about Iranians? I suspect, nothing is. A minority of society suppose they have a superior social and ethical code but that is normal in any society. The trouble is th…