“Estonian girl reading a magazine,” my Belgian friend sent me a picture she had taken of me a year ago and published on the Internet. Estonian??? By my first blog-post about Europe I want to point out two things: (1) who I am and where I come from and (2) what different interpretations I have received about me – in truth, Latvian from Latvia living in (to my mind) most mixed and apparently confusing region in the EU – the Baltics.
“Are you from Latvia? Oh, your country is really good at basketball! I remember watching some games,” a well known Slovenian musician accidently met on a street in Ljubljana wanted to show his awareness of….sorry, Lithuania. “Are you going back to Lithuania,” my friend asked me when I was heading to the airport after TH!NK ABOUT IT launch event…
I think that it’s just polite for an EU citizen to know where approximately all the 27 EU countries are geographically located or…at least to know that they are independent. But I got shocked when my Finnish flat mate asked about the Finnish people awareness of the Baltic States told me that Lithuania is almost unknown for middle-aged/old Finnish citizens. “Because it’s bordering with Kaliningrad (Russia) on the coast side of the Baltic Sea some people think one needs a visa to get to Vilnius,” was his answer.
Should this all be treated as a silly mistake? To tell the truth, even if I am used to be mixed with the two other Baltic countries in daily situations, I never expected it to happen in an official level. Last year Lithuanian football players were playing in Czech Republic and to welcome them Latvian national anthem was played and Latvian flag was hanged out. Sad, but true…and it seems that even the EU hadn’t helped much to raise people’s awareness of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as separate countries with individual cultures and traditions. The common Baltic basket is still used to talk about them in media and elsewhere.
And the question still remains open: is it anybody’s fault or is it just the Baltic destiny?