We are Nordics
NJORD Law Firm is a law firm with a true Nordic profile and a global mindset. The Nordic aspect is an integral part of our culture and mindset. Therefore, it is important for our Baltic colleagues to have a voice, when Estonia’s, Latvia’s, and Lithuania’s geographic and geopolitical position in Northern Europe is being discussed.
Recently, Estonian media reported that the United Nations had “reclassified” Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as Northern European countries from being Eastern European countries.
According to the UN, Northern European countries include Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The Eastern European countries are Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine.
However, the UN classification of the three Baltic countries as Northern Europe dates back to at least 2002.
The Nordic tradition roots in history
Nevertheless, this classification is important to many Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians according to Karolina Ullman, laywer and Partner at NJORD Law Firm at the office in Tallinn.
Ullman explains that Estonians consider themselves more Nordic than anything else. These roots go back to history and culture. For 150 years Estonia was Swedish, the Estonian language is related to Finnish, and Estonians celebrate “jõul” like the other Nordic countries (jul, jul, jól and joulu) and drink “õlu” (øl, öl, øl, olut) - just to name a few examples of the shared Nordic culture.
The Estonians share many hallmarks with their Northern neighbours - and not just because of their Swedish history and their proximity to Finland. Underlying values, such as honesty, straight-forwardness, no tolerance of corruption, high regard for personal liberties, the right to personal fulfilment, and trust are essentials.
“As Estonians, we have always fought to be recognized as Nordic instead of Eastern European,” Ullman explains.
Also, in Lithuania the Nordic values and focus on Nordic countries is important. Lithuanian business life is oriented to the north, and the main foreign investments comes from the Nordic countries.
“In NJORD’s Vilnius office we promote Nordic values in our daily work and in relations with our clients,” Laimonas Markauskas, lawyer and partner at NJORD Law Firm at the office in Vilnius, explains.
However, the Soviet Union’s occupation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania has left the three small states with a cultural and economic scar, as the GDP of all three countries lies more than 10,000 USD below the average of the 28-EU countries. But all countries are working on improving this.
“The main ‘problem’ with being considered Eastern European is that it gives people the wrong idea culturally of what it is like to live or work in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Eastern Europe still has many implications from being part of the Eastern Block back in the days of Soviet Union. And Eastern European is the opposite of Western European. You cannot be both at the same time,” Ullman elaborates.
The Nordic feeling within Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania is strong and they will continue to fight for the world to recognize them as Nordic countries.