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What do Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians think of each other?

Jasper-Matti Saul Lives in Ormsö, Estonia

The viewpoint of an Estonian:

Two weekends ago I met a lovely Latvian lady in a pub in the old town who came to Estonia years ago.

”I’m getting no interest in our Baltic dance classes among my Estonian friends and I can’t understand why” she said.

She assumed that the word “Baltic” and the associated cultural heritage is as dear to Estonians as to her and was hence surprised of the low interest. I thought the story exemplifies the wider topic well:

Latvians often have no idea that Estonians don’t associate with the word “Baltic” and Estonians seldom tell that to Latvians directly - Because they fear Latvians will get offended. Estonians want to be Finnic / Nordic in peace and would jump with joy if the world would stop calling it Baltic. But they’re also diplomatic and in politics this term is talked about quietly - as they don’t want to offend anyone. So no-one ever told the Latvians.

Latvia seems to be proud of the “Baltic” idea, because it’s in the middle, has no other friendly neighbours besides EE & LT and hence needs the term to exist. The modern concept of the “Baltic countries” can sometimes be seen as a Latvian idea in Estonia.

They also seem to want to be closer to Estonia than to Lithuania. This is something most Estonians dont know about and are surprised, as LV & LT are always seen as the two “actual” baltic countries. But Estonians definitely feel a type of familiarity with Latvians.

Estonians dont know much about Lithuania and Lithuanians don’t know much about Estonia. Latvia tries to communicate a unified group of three countries but forgets that there’s nothing connecting Estonia and Lithuania.

This forced grouping in turn gets Estonians upset, as they really want to be known as Finnic. And makes Latvians feel hurt / take it the wrong way when they hear Estonians don’t actually like their Baltic project.

Latvia is close to Estonia and is cared about in Estonia. Latvians - You guys need to invent a new word if you want to group the two countries together. And it needs to be something that respects the Estonian heritage as much as it does Latvian.

This story started in 1918 when Estonia wanted to join with Finland but was interrupted by war - So it’s already 100 years old and isn’t anything new. The “Baltic Entente” failed in 1934 for the same reason as described above - the region is not united by any common attributes.


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