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Estonians for Europe

National Activism for European Integration, 1922–1991

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Pauli Heikkilä

Estonians for Europe provides a unique insight into nearly eighty years of the history surrounding European unification. Concentrating on Estonian aspirations for an integrative organization in international relations, the book illustrates a number of parallels and differences between commonly held narratives of twentieth-century European history.
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Introduction. Expanding the History of European Integration

← 10 | 11 → INTRODUCTION

Extract

The well-known Estonian geographer, August Tammekann, once defined Europe not in terms of politics but described the continent from the perspective of his own field of study; “In Europe, the sea penetrates everywhere, it is omnipresent, as opposed to the immense distance of wide inner Asia from the sea. For most of the year, the marine effect prevails in the European climate.”1 For Tammekann, Europe was the land of the shore, between the soil and water.

Tammekann managed to avoid the question of nationalities in his concept of Europe. Europe, however, undeniably consists of nations. It is one question to ask which nations belong to Europe, and another – more difficult question – to ponder relations between Europe and its nations. The concept of Europe unites the nationalities of a wider Western civilization, and from another perspective, without nations Europe would be merely a dull and wide open sea.

The same metaphor of concurrence was used by another Estonian, writer Karl Ristikivi and, incidentally, a former student of geography: “Meie ei tule kunagi tagasi siia randa. Aga nii kaua kui hingab meri, Sünnivad alati uued rannad”. (We shall never return to this shore, but as long as the sea breaths, new shores are born.)2 It is impossible to address in a universally comprehensive way how the concept of nationality has met with the concept of (supranational) Europe, because the details are in constant flux. At the same time, this predicament has always remained fundamentally the...

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