Estonian dailies relieved nothing too unhinged arose from Helsinki Summit

Tuesday's editorial headlines in Estonia.
Tuesday's editorial headlines in Estonia. Source: ERR

The headlines of the three biggest Estonian dailies all agree that the meeting between the leaders of the US and Russia, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki, Finland yesterday, whilst being a resounding victory for Putin, did not yield anything particularly unexpected or unpleasant.

Eesti Päevaleht

Eesti Päevaleht got straight to the point with its editorial: ''This time we got lucky in Helsinki'' (''Seekord läks Helsingis õnneks'') read the headline, and the article noted that no large scale encounter between two world powers has caused as much jitteriness as this one for a very long time.

''First and foremost, developments show just how much Mr. Trump's unpredictable behaviour has undermined the credibility of the US, supposedly the bedrock of the western world, internationally,'' the editorial opined, whilst noting that the chemistry between the two wasn't so good as to think that it might lead to Europe being somehow sacrificed on the altar of the partnership.

The article also states that, whilst Trump seemed to do unexpectedly well with the seasoned political player that is Vladimir Putin, the question still hangs in the air as to why where was a need for such talks given that both the US and its allies have imposed sanctions on Russia in recent years for violations of international law.


Leading daily Postimees formed their editorial headline as a rhetorical question: ''Who's afraid of Putin and Trump?'' (''Kes kardab Putinit ja Trumpi?''). The item goes on to suggest that whilst it is impossible to fathom out what goes on in Mr. Trump's mind and what concessions he might stretch to, he does at the same time have boundaries.

''Relaxing or ending sanctions, whilst in the interests of Russia, are under the control of Congress and the Senate,'' the article continues (in fact the US Federal Government is made up of three distinct branches, the Executive (ie. the President) the Judiciary and the Congress – the Senate is one of two chambers of the latter and not separate in itself-ed.).

''If Mr. Trump promises to Kim Jong-Un that they will cease military exercises in South Korea the conclusion could be drawn that a similar move in central and eastern Europe would also be amenable to Mr. Putin,'' the piece went on.

''But this would mean Trump coming into conflict with Congress,'' the editorial concluded.

The article ends somewhat unexpectedly with the point that the most interesting observation of the summit was not what was agreed but how late Mr. Putin, known for being something of a latecomer, was in arriving for the summit (his plane touched down at least an hour later than scheduled, and Mr. Trump and his wife had to spend time being shown around the Finnish Presidential Palace by President Sauli Niinistö and his wife, whilst waiting for Mr. Putin) and what this may signify.


Tabloid newspaper Õhtuleht also headlines its editorial with a question: 'Trump and Putin – working partners and competitors?'' (''Trump ja Putin – Konkurentidest Koostööpartnerid?'').

The piece then states that Vladimir Putin arrived in Helsinki holding the cards, with the President of the US alone ready to meet with him.

"At one meeting with a US diplomat it was expressed that the best result might be if nothing significant was said or done,'' the paper explained.

To this end it could be said that the summit was a 'success' in that neither harsh criticism (indeed the point was made by Mr. Trump that the US and Russia were competitors in the fields of natural gas production for instance), nor concrete agreements, occured

Õhtuleht concludes that it is possible for people in Estonia to find reason to breathe easily at least for the time being – things could always have gone a lot worse, in other words.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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