As many of you know, I've had a bit of a love affair with all things Estonian for a number of years. When it comes to Eurovision they're one of my favourite countries and I like the vast majority of their songs. I learned Estonian at university and whilst I'm not fluent, I can understand conversations (usually comes in handy when people think I don't understand!)
Estonia is a fascinating country with an interesting, often tragic history. Almost a third of Estonia's population are Russian speakers, the majority of which moved to the country after World War II. This coincided with mass deportations of Estonians by the Soviets, resulting in huge demographic shifts in the country. The restoration of independence in the 1990s saw tense times in Estonia as the government underwent a process of nation and state building, ensuring ethnic Estonian dominance whilst at the same time moving the country closer to the EU, which emphasised a more civic approach to nation building. Essentially Estonian political elites walked a tightrope between the two. It wasn't all plain sailing though as the riots in 2007 showed, tensions continue to bubble away under the surface.
This year Eesti will be represented by Tanja and her song "Amazing". Tanja is different from many Russian speakers in Estonia in that she wasn't born in the country and moved to Eesti from Kaliningrad. It's the first time that an ethnic Russian has represented Estonia (not including the backing group 2XL from 2001). Previous Estonian entrants have included two Swedes and Dave Benton, originally from Aruba. Given these tense times when many countries with large Russian speaking populations are cautiously watching events in Ukraine, it's a positive sign that Estonia will be represented by a Russian who calls Estonia home.
Initially I wasn't a fan of "Amazing" but it's a striking performance and I wish them well. Elagu Eesti!