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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 4. Cultural Premises

← 58 | 59 → CHAPTER 4


“It Demands a Common Spiritual Level for all Member Nations”

The debate as to whether to use political or economic methods in the attempt to gain European unity during the interwar period was accompanied with a constant discussion on European culture as the foundation for any practical solutions. Almost from the beginning, religious vocabulary, from prophecy to confession, was related to the Paneuropean idea.1 An article in Päevaleht in September 1927 claimed that Paneurope was so far not widely comprehended and preached only by the devoted. Furthermore, the same article ignored the political initiatives of the programme and instead treated it as an outline for a new world vision (next to conservatism, socialism, and pacifism). As soon as the blueprint gained sufficient popularity, its goal, a European federation, would come true.2

In September 1927, there were still reasons to be optimistic despite the great problems and lack of results. The Paneuropean idea had so far gained only slim popularity and outside the movement the influence was mainly “platonic”. However, eventually courageous plans would reach the ears of politicians as long as the greater public would keep them on the agenda. “The idea of federation of European states is on the move, it has come to its novice stage.” The great problems included disputes between nations, states and races both at the economic and cultural levels. Europeans had nevertheless more in common than things keeping them apart. The greatest reason and justification for unification was “the...

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