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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 6. Common Estonian Features in the Discussion

← 84 | 85 → CHAPTER 6


The “evolution of the European idea” in Estonia followed the trends of continental Europe. After a steady growth of interest, the first Paneuropean Congress in October 1926 experienced a peak of success followed by a rapid downfall.1 This was also evident in Estonia, where the discussion restarted only after a visit by Otto Deutsch in June 1929. The sudden collapse of the European idea and instead the increase in region-building was experienced due to the Austro-German customs union treaty in spring 1931.

In addition to the article “Flaws of Paneurope” and the speech by Pusta, there were very few texts that referred directly to all three (diplomatic, economic and cultural) dimensions of unification. However, many included two dimensions. This happened also with opposition viewpoints; authors either gave a better alternative or implied increasing difficulties in other spheres of activity if unification could potentially be seen as starting with one particular aspect. Different people may have come to opposite conclusions from the same premises (economic hardships or recently gained independence), but the adopted reasoning remained the same, even the external programme or proposal changed. European unification was not discussed on an ad hoc basis but perceived from established political points of view. For example, for the Paneuropeans, Tõnisson and Pusta, common European culture was the prerequisite for political and economic unification. The political lines could be perhaps expanded also to newspapers in general: Kaja stressed economic issues throughout the whole period; Postimees defended the Study Commission against regional...

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