"Samost ja Luts": Baltics obligated to pressure Europe on Belarus

Anvar Samost (left) and Janek Luts.
Anvar Samost (left) and Janek Luts. Source: ERR

Estonia and the other Baltic countries are obligated to keep up foreign policy pressure on the subject of Belarus for the situation not to disappear from Europe's radar, journalists Anvar Samost and Janek Luts found on the Sunday radio show.

"Countries closest to Belarus and that share its historical experience, in other words, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, I believe, have maintained the right position throughout the week and managed to avoid taking romantic but foolish steps as was to be feared," Samost said.

"There have been certain sentiments expressed here and there. But things have been described with enough clarity, especially for the rest of the world by Lithuania and Poland, and this Friday's European foreign ministers' meeting would likely not have touched on Belarus at all without the Baltics and Poland," he added.

At the same time, Samost said that Europe has not shown any real interest in Belarus and the further one travels from the Belarusian-Polish border, the fewer people even know the country exists. He believes Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland should keep the pressure on in what is a moral choice for Europe.

Luts said that Russia is unlikely to repeat the steps it took in Ukraine, while it cannot be ruled out it will come up with a new kind of unconventional intervention.

The journalists also discovered recent economic data in Estonia. Samost said that the effect of the coronavirus on the economy has been more modest than anticipated.

"I was sure that we would have an economic crisis the likes of which we haven't seen in our worst nightmares by July. It's August now, and I would say the economy is functioning surprisingly well, all things considered."

Unemployment came to 7.1 percent in July that sounds bad, while it was previously at that level as recently as in 2017. "It is the result of hundreds of millions of euros paid out through the Unemployment Insurance Fund as salary benefits, but it's also more than that. We have a manageable number of unemployed who are quite narrowly from the service and tourism sectors.

Samost said that the tourism sector seems to be slowly recovering, also because people are very resourceful. "Hotel operators are using this downtime to renovate and improve their hotels. Many have shown great mettle. The effect of the coronavirus on the economy has been more modest than feared," he said.

Luts said that looking at major economies cooling toward the start of the month, a part of the slump is yet to come. He also said that people whose jobs have been saved with the fund's salary benefit instrument cannot be laid off until September, which is when we might see a new wave of unemployed people.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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