Edward Lucas -- An Interview
You amaze some people in the Baltics because you seem to have a much deeper understanding of the situation here than most foreign journalists do. Do you think that's so? If so, how did that come about?
I have been covering the CEE region pretty much continuously since 1987.
I can't judge my level of understanding but I think I probably do have an advantage in being able to compare eg Moldova and Estonia. Fairly few journalists know Russian, German and Polish which are all useful languages.
You're highly opinionated, it seems to me. How do you balance that with "objectivity"? As I asked Aleksejs -- "do you believe in objectivity"?
The Economist is a "viewspaper" so we try to explain what is going on, not just describe it. I have the luxury of a weekly column where I can opine in a way that I would not do in the Europe section.
Though you obviously sympathize with the Baltic states (at least I think you do), you seem to have little sympathy for nationalists.... okay, okay, this is a leading question and "nationalism" has a definition that is funky, at best? Let me rephrase this! What is "Baltic nationalism" to you?
I sympathise with all sides to differing degrees. I think ethno-centric nationalism is not likely to make the Baltic states safe, free and prosperous. But as an outsider I have to be cautious in telling people what they "ought" to think.
How is Estonia different from Latvia (and/or Lithuania)?
Estonia is smaller, more Nordic, more protestant, more reserved but also more innovative than its counterparts.
You know a lot about all of Eastern and Central Europe. How are the Baltics similar to the satellites, and how are they different, in your view? Then and now?
Soviet rule has left a distinctive legacy in the Baltic but this is fading over time. It is much more visible in, say, Moldova or Ukraine
You're now writing what you yourself call "rants" for The Daily Mail -- what's the difference between a rant and an analysis? Why rant?
I have been writing for the Daily Mail and other papers for years. It is a way of reaching a different audience. And it helps pay for my children's education.
You've suggested that moving the Bronze "Soldier-Liberator" was a bad idea. Why?
The soldier was a policing/public order problem. Moving it created a national-security problem. That was a big practical minus for a modest symbolic plus.
If you still think it was a bad idea, why and how can you so vociferously defend Estonia afterwards?
The Estonian government made a questionable decision. Russia's response was outrageous. Countries have the right to make mistakes.
A timid young journalist friend of mine was amazed by your blog, and even by its very existence -- to him, a journalist must avoid such things. What would you say to that?
The Economist pays me to have authoritative views. If I was working for Reuters it would be different.
What can we look forward to in the next decade? Will you stay in journalism? What can we hope for from Edward Lucas?
Russia will get scarier. So long as I can, I will keep writing about the region.
Knowing what you do -- what can the Baltics hope for?
For the first time since 1993, I no longer feel confident that the Baltic states will survive: the potentially lethal combination is Russian money and western weakness.