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Historical Examples

Of Separation Bravery

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November 4, 2019

Catudio

There are different reasons behind the separatist movements in modern societies. Those movements and processes depend on the reasons provoking the ideas of separation.

 

Modern national separations happened in bulk in the nineties after the fall of the USSR. Every former republic rushed to escape the pressures of the centralized economy. The spectrum of reasons behind their exit ranged from ecological to historical, varying from one nation to another.

 

Some of the republics had the geopolitical advantage of their European locations with full access to the waterways, but some were landlocked.
Regardless of location, former members of the Soviet Union chose to take certain risks in the best interests of their population.

The distribution of natural resources became the last drop in Estonia's decision to separate. The Soviets planned to build a phosphorite processing plant in the South part of the region. The plan rose concerns over the contamination of local water supply through the riverways. The protests against the ecological threat marked the beginning of the separation process in 1987.

 

At the same time, the former Soviet republic wanted to take full control of its hot slate deposits in the North West. Deposit sites promised the stability of the independent energy supply. 

 

The anticipation of severe trade sanctions against the country from the Soviet side prioritized the issue of energy independence. Indeed the sanctions followed but did not last long. In the mid-nineties, Russia returned to the trade table to negotiate export and import of an extended list of goods between the two countries.

Neighboring Finland showed great investment interest in the newly independent Estonia and became one of the first importers. With the growth of economic ties, the tourism industry was quickly gaining momentum. Finnish tourists flocked to the neighboring country, and the local hospitality industry responded very quickly. The purposes of visits varied from business to leisure. Regardless, every visitor contributed to the growth of the economy.

 

Local restaurants kept up with the pace and contributed to visitors' experiences by including national Finnish cuisine dishes in their menus. The word started to spread through the rest of the Western block. Within a very short period, tourism and hospitality became one of the key contributors to the economy of Estonia.

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Estonia is a leader in the implementation of IT services into everyday life. Most of the essential public services provided via the Internet. The online 'governing' system relieves the taxpayers from having to support a large sector of public servants. This presents a significant positive impact on the budget.

 

The country does not have large manufacturing facilities. But smaller factories allow more flexibility in production. The manufacturing of machinery and electronics, IT industry and farming remain the leading export venues.

 

European crisis 2008: Estonia carried out the smallest amount of debt compared to other countries in the former socialist block.

The socialist state was born with a dangerous, self-destructive disease limiting its life span. However, it was hardly noticeable under the heavy make-up of promises of free stuff. The society had been sinking into the abyss of frustration for years. The ideology marched to its drum at its funeral since the very beginning. But health care was free.

 

In my childhood and early teens, I witnessed way too many times how quickly frustration turned into damaging anger. At the same time, I had to deal with personal struggles to suppress the frustration. To do so, I had to shut off the logic and common sense, just like many others. 

 

In the end, the logic took over, and as a genuine force, destroyed the fake army of socialist ideology. Unfortunately, not without first turning into national anger and causing multiple losses of human lives.

 

The candy in the bowl is free for all because someone had to pay for it.

The tiny country stepped into the process of separation with great determination to protect the interests of its people. Estonia separated mostly to decentralize the economy, to escape the ignorance of distant politicians and to preserve its national values.

 

WHAT HAPPENED SINCE?

 

From national disputes between the Russian and Estonian speaking people to the burdens imposed by the European Union, Estonia fought a fair share of obstacles since it separated. But as one local said: 'even in bad times it is still better than before'.

The separation helped to boost the industries considered insignificant contributors in Soviet times, such as farming and tourism. The country had to become independent to realize the great potential those industries had in the economic perspective.

 

During the Soviet times, Estonia played the role of a store display in the former USSR. As a 'window to socialism' located between Western Europe and the Soviet Union, the country received generous decorations from Moscow to create the illusion of wholesome prosperity. From the state of the art farming tools and supplies to the bright packaging on local dairy products - everything was generously funded.

 

Over the years, the local farmers learned the best techniques of the industry and were well prepared to meet the export standards. But the priority at first was given to the needs of the local population. Locally grown and produced beef, poultry, and dairy products provided the essential supply at affordable prices. It did not take long for the significant surplus to make it to the foreign markets. 

It took Estonia four years to separate from the USSR, and some key events happened overnight. The Popular Front of Estonia (PFE) was formed between April 13 and 14, 1988, and played a tremendous role in the separatist movement. 

 

PFE made ideas of independent Estonia acceptable and possible for masses. The idea of independence had been a dream for the majority of Estonians for years. The Soviet ideological propaganda and threats of economic embargos made this dream impossible to achieve.

 

What were the reasons behind Estonian separation? The Western world learned and accepted the one-sided story - to escape from Moscow's tyranny. But there were other reasons beneath the surface of the obvious, and one them could be of particular interest to Alberta.

Chapter I: ESTONIA