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What should happen with Kaliningrad?

 
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jan, 2003 08:01 pm
hi, nimh and all: just to add a little comment on occupying land,withdrawing after a while and the people left behind. on our baltic cruise last summer we stopped for a half-day in tallin. we admired the beautiful russian-orthodox church; noticed some old people begging for money on the church steps. guide's comment: you shouldn't give them any money: THEY ARE RUSSIANS! we later learned that when russia withdrew from estonia they abandoned quite a few of their russian compatriots; russia had no money to feed and house these citizens in russia - so they just left them! the estonians don't like them because they say those people are not estonians, they are russians and russia should take them back. russia says: no thanks, we don't want you anymore. it's a cruel world! i think we better preserve the status quo re. kaliningrad or even more people will wind up not knowing where they belong.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jan, 2003 09:15 am
hamburger wrote:
we later learned that when russia withdrew from estonia they abandoned quite a few of their russian compatriots; russia had no money to feed and house these citizens in russia - so they just left them! the estonians don't like them because they say those people are not estonians, they are russians and russia should take them back. russia says: no thanks, we don't want you anymore. it's a cruel world!


yeh, you're right, it's a sad story, though somewhat more complicated than that: the majority of these Estonian (and Latvian) Russians were actually born in the Baltics. They are children of the Soviet citizens that were directed there en masse in the fifties to seventies.

After the Soviet Union (re-)occupied the Baltic states in 1945, guerrilla warfare actually continued quite some time, particularly in the woodlands of Lithuania, where fighting continued till the early 50s and the last "forest fighters" were discovered in hiding in the sixties. The Baltic countries were a 'difficult' conquest for the Soviet Union because national awareness and unity was extremely high, bolstered by the interwar history of statehood, and the 1939-1941 Soviet occupation had traumatized the Baltic civilians to an extent that every citizen was a potential resistance fighter.

To pacify these countries, the Soviet Union used migration as a tool. Many thousands of Russians and other Slavs were sent to the Baltics in the fifties, or were persuaded to do so by bonuses and incentives.

Parallel to this, the Soviet mode of economic policy implied a great emphasis on the development of (heavy) industry. The Baltics were overwhelmingly agricultural countries with a great peasant rootedness to the land. Because of the resulting shortage of willing and qualified industry workers and a measure of distrust about the "reliability" of Baltic workers, workers were massively imported from Ukraine and Russia in the 60s and 70s.

The result: by 1991, Estonia had a 40% Slav minority, Latvia a 50% Slav "minority". Although migration had continued through the 80s, too, by then the overwhelming majority of these minority residents had lived in these republics all their life. They did mostly not, however, speak Estonian / Latvian, as that had never been encouraged - or necessary even: you have to realise that these Russians had been accorded a privileged position - they were the ones setting the standards upon the 'natives'.

There's the problem. You can see why resentment of these "immigrants" is extremely high among the Baltic peoples, but on the other hand, there was nowhere to send them "back" to anymore, either. After 1991, the Estonian and Latvian governments took a very formal line. Remember that the Soviet occupation was never recognized by the US; in the same vein these governments stated they were simply the continuation of the pre-1939 legal government, and everything in between was merely an illegal interlude. To those standards, everyone who had moved in during that interlude was de facto an illegal immigrant, and did not qualify for citizenship of the new state.

Understandable, perhaps, but also bizarre, as it left most of the Russian Balts de facto stateless. They could initially not claim Russian citizenship (never having lived there), and overwhelmingly didnt want to, either, not claiming it when it did become possible either. But they were not recognized as fellow-citizens by their compatriots either, and thus many held on to their Soviet passport, the passport of a state that didnt exist anymore. And imagine: a country with a 40%-minority without the right to vote.

Much has happened since. Some Russians have left, but not a whole lot, considering how much poorer Russia was and how few contacts or opportunities they had there. In a near-eternal wrangling with EU negotiators, Latvia and Estonia have made small step after small step to enable these Russians to get citizenship, and voting rights on at least a local level.

On the other hand, more and more of these Balt-slavs have learned the language, making it possible for them to pass the language test included in the citizenship application procedure. Also, they have started to identify themselves ever more with their country in what some social scientists term a new Baltic-Russian ethnic identity, one separate from both Russian proper and Estonian/Latvian. The hardline calls for Russia to reoccupy the Baltics or for the Russian-inhabited areas of Estonia to secede, that were making the headlines back in '91-93, have all but dissapeared. But this newly developed loyalty (not all new, btw, in the late 80s a significant group of Russians actually took part in the independence movements) has not yet been reciprocated much by the Balts, and the social chasms are still huge, as you have observed. Many are still left in the middle.
0 Replies
 
HofT
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Feb, 2003 03:15 am
Ah, so.

Monsieur "No-Itsme Habibi", a private individual currently residing in Holland, objects to the decades-long negotiations between Germany and Russia at head-of-state level concerning the ultimate status of the land currently known as "Kaliningrad Oblast".

Obviously that settles the matter once and for all <G>
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HofT
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Feb, 2003 03:20 am
P.S. In fairness to Monsieur Habibi, currently of Holland, reading comprehension doesn't appear to be his strongest point - judging by the fact he purports to quote something I wrote conveniently omitting the actual text <G>
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Feb, 2003 09:34 am
HofT wrote:
P.S. In fairness to Monsieur Habibi, currently of Holland, reading comprehension doesn't appear to be his strongest point - judging by the fact he purports to quote something I wrote conveniently omitting the actual text <G>


<shrugs> Everybody here is computer-savvy enough to click back to page six of this discussion to see your full post.

I quoted you where you wrote that the moment we "give Russia a date for starting negotiations to join the EU" would "provide a convenient framework for ceding Königsberg and the northern part of Ostpreussen to Germany".

"Ceding Königsberg and the northern part of Ostpreussen to Germany" - how is that different from "giving it back to the Germans", as I summarised what you proposed? No, I'm sorry, you can blame me for disagreeing with you, but not for deceptively misquoting your intentions.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Feb, 2003 09:46 am
As for your other reply, you don't quote the post you're replying to at all, so I'll do it for you.

I wrote, responding to your post that "the real solution doesn't appear as an option" in the poll: "the option of 'giving it back to the Germans' is up there, in the poll, for sure, but with tongue firmly in cheek. Even out of principle I would never support ceding land on a historical basis."

To which you reply:
Quote:
Ah, so.

Monsieur "No-Itsme Habibi", a private individual currently residing in Holland, objects to the decades-long negotiations between <snip>.

Obviously that settles the matter once and for all <G>


Err, well, yeh, that surely settles the matter of what options there are in the poll! <grins>.
It's not my Konigsberg or Kaliningrad, but it is surely my poll, and I decide what's in there! Laughing Laughing

But seriously, to pass by your condescendent put-downs and return to the topic, considering those "decades-long negotiations between Germany and Russia at head-of-state level concerning the ultimate status of the land currently known as 'Kaliningrad Oblast'.":

No Soviet head of state has ever dreamt of ceding Kaliningrad. It was a major navy port for them, a huge military zone, of great strategic importance.
There have been rumors and speculations of possible offers to 'sell' Kaliningrad in Yeltsin's time, but they were never substantiated. The Yeltsin government itself surely denied them.
Perhaps because they weren't relevant, considering the Germans' stand on this. German politicians have time and again denied they had any interest in re-acquiring East Prussia. They have recognized the legal validity of the Polish borders. And there is no public support for acquiring an impoverished, crime-ridden overseas territory where only Russians live.
Not to mention what neighbouring countries would say about a new German territorial "east-drive". Or what UN, Council of Europe, OSCE or EU would say about a "ceding" of random territory by one government to another, in today's Europe, over the heads of those actually living there.

I don't need to be modest about being "a private individual currently residing in Holland" when objecting to the idea, b/c - a) I can simply echo what many a German government official has stated and b) that is what we do, here, on a forum like this: we present what we think of a topic, personally - which in my case, on this Q, is that it's not a real option, and that it wouldn't be right, either.
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HofT
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Apr, 2003 09:51 pm
Replying here, ex post facto (so with benefit of hindsight) to Walter's post of January 28:

"Well, for the USA, the issue - re. Turkey - is essentially strategic. As it prepares for the war against Iraq, it sees Turkey as an invaluable country. "

It was never strategic, Walter, only tactical as a transit point; the only reason Turkey was ever admitted to NATO (as a communications base) expired with the demise of the Soviet empire. On the transit subject, plenty of alternative logistical plans were ready - and of course were executed as you know. Very much is not what it seems, and I hope to log in here again whenever the entire realignment in the Near- and Middle- Eastern theater is successfully completed. How long that will take nobody knows, but I hope: bis bald! <G>
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Apr, 2003 01:35 pm
HofT wrote:
Very much is not what it seems, and I hope to log in here again whenever the entire realignment in the Near- and Middle- Eastern theater is successfully completed. How long that will take nobody knows, but I hope: bis bald! <G>


are you kidding? seriously, do you think that this will ever be completed to everyone's satisfaction?
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HofT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Apr, 2003 02:10 pm
EhBeth - "to everyone's satisfaction"? Sorry have no idea what the phrase means in the context; certainly never used it as policy criterion, nor did I ever hear anyone use it in that sense.

Wishing all a good weekend; will be back online next month. I hope so, at least, as am leaving for the Far East tonight - armed with face masks, bottles of Lysol, water filters, own soap, towels, etc. EhBeth, that reminds me - aren't you in Toronto? Hope you and everyone you know are well, and stay that way. Goodbye for now <G>
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