Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What lies on the other side

Estonian political scientist Karmo Tüür (here's his unrelated blog in Estonian) once spotted this photo in local Russian newspaper Molodezh Estonii:

Note: I revisited this entry in 2015 and found the link gone as the newspaper in question did not survive the turmoil's years. I replaced the original picture with a random photo of Narva - Ivangorod city-pair, found in Google. The striking feature remains visible enough in those google-able photographs, with self-styled “Energy-Empire’s” city covered in darkness while Narva fortress can still well apply for a title of a "beacon of hope", visually.
The photograph depicts two opposing fortresses on the banks of river Narva, at night. If you look tensely into the darkness you should be able to see the silhouette of a second fortress on the right side of the picture (take a look at the same fortresses in daytime).

Tomorrow the river between these two fortifications will once again become the easternmost border of Europe (outside Scandinavia), this time of its
Shengen area sans frontières, which is the most intimate form of the European integration in which "the friendship between peoples" practically manifests itself, whiout the help of armor divisions. The river between the fortresses will thus assume the role of the border between the free travel zone and Russia, as well as it will continue to serve as the line separating it from Estonia.

As one recent international press
piece rightfully implies Narva (left) on the Estonian side is a troubled, ethnically Russian city, for which the whole Estonian re-independence thing created uneasy feelings. But as time since 1991 passed and the two countries drifted in their development further and further away from each other, the city was increasingly attached to Estonia because of the dark presence of its evil twin, Russian Ivangorod (right). Narva is sometimes described as troubled because in the Soviet period it was almost completely Russified and even today the presence of Estonia proper is bleak and unwilling. But thankfully for the ability of the local Russians to both see and visit the entity across the river, since then gradually Narva has become one of the most loyal predominantly non-Estonian communities.
Because the people are scared. I've been to Ivangorod in 2000 and I was scared too.

For those who prefer analytical approach I'd like to demonstrate this experience numerically by comparing the two countries, using scientific studies by some two dozens different think tanks, institutes, international organizations, loaded with chiefs of departments and Nobel prize winners:

In green color Narva's homeland position in the ratings, in red color Ivangorod's country standing, with smaller number being higher position in the list of countries.

UN Human Development Index (2006) 40 - 65
EIU Quality of Life (2005)
68 - 106

Economic Freedom Index (2006)
12 - 122

Economic Freedom of The World Report (2007)
8 - 112

World Competitiveness Report (2006)
25 - 62

World Competitiveness Yearbook (2007)
22 - 43

Capital Hospitality Index (2006)
7 - 76

Ease of Doing Business (2008)
17 - 106

KOF Globalization Index (2007)
28 - 47

A. T. Kearney Globalization Index (2007)
10 - 55

Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (2006) 28 - 68

Corruption Perception Index (2006)
24 - 121

Press Freedom Index (2006)
6 - 147

World Peace Index (2007)
28 - 118

World Democracy Audit (2006)
18 - 124

State of The World Liberty (2006)
1 - 124

Environmental Sustainability Index (2005)
27 - 33

Climate Change Performance Index (2008)
35 - 50

Digital Opportunity Index (2007)
24 - 92

World Information Technology Report (2006)
20 - 70

EIU E-readiness Index (2007)
28 - 57

Mothers Index (2007)
17 - 36

Here are the links to the relevant studies, given in random order because I just copy-pasted them from another blog: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Crossing the river bridge into Ivangorod makes those numbers quickly grow in flesh and obtain form in miriad of differences, which set Russia apart from Europe, starting with sickening public toilets and ending with the hopelessness in the people's eyes.
This is why looking again at the crude limestone fortress almost invisible at night with only the howling of wild beasts giving away the presence of life on the other side of the vast body of water I can't help it but recollect the following verse: bring them all and in darkness bind...
in the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie.

I have a feeling that this attitude could be just one of several things uniting myself and many decent Narva inhabitants. And this feeling is good.

No comments: