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Estonians for Europe

National Activism for European Integration, 1922–1991


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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Chapter 3. Economic Consequences

← 44 | 45 → CHAPTER 3


“Desire to Liberate Oneself from American Economic Hegemony”

During the interwar period, there were also plans, movements, and organizations promoting economic cooperation. The problem of tariffs was crucial. For example, international conversations on customs stabilization were occasionally presented by Estonian newspapers as part of Paneurope: “It is the first serious step by European states towards the creation of a European economic federation, Paneurope. The road is very long, perhaps thousands of steps must be undertaken, and if the pace does not increase considerably, only future generations will be able to see that federation.”1 However, economics was never that important for the Paneuropean Union. A customs union was never enough for Coudenhove-Kalergi. According to him, a customs union without political consolidation would be used to maintain the protectionist policies often used in the past.2

In 1925 Pusta had presented the idea that economic difficulties had always been the most important reason for clashes in foreign policy. He portrayed a dark image of Europe with decreasing productivity.3 A year later, economic distrust and tensions again offered the strongest arguments for Paneurope.4 Finally, in October 1929, Pusta justified Paneurope with a human desire to become rich. “That is a precondition for the re-creation of the continent.” The satisfaction of basic needs would lead to cooperation at other levels.5 ← 45 | 46 → Others, including Jaan Tõnisson6 and Ants Piip,7 brought economic difficulties and the debt owed to the U.S. as the main reasons for unification.


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