Oleg Ossinovski, one of Estonia’s richest businessmen and owner of a large group specializing in transit trade, says that Estonia must learn how to live next to an empire, but is not doing a good job right now.
In an interview to Postimees, Ossinovski said that Russia has been reducing its transit trade volumes passing through Estonia for political reasons and that recent news in Ukraine have made the situation worse.
“Events from recent weeks have already affected by businesses. Our revenues, profits have gone down sharply, and we have to downsize. We were also badly affected by the weakening of the Russian ruble because it happened at a very bad moment. We have large assets in Ukraine which have also been affected,” said Ossinovski.
In his speech in Pärnu Financial Conference held last week, Ossinovski said that Narva could become the provider of medical services to the middle-classes of St. Petersburg.
According to Ossinovski, if Estonia (Narva) and St. Petersburg were linked by rapid train service, Narva could become the bedroom for St. Petersburg.
“Let’s not forget that St. Petersburg is the second largest town in the empire,” he said, adding that since huge resources have accumulated into Moscow and St. Petersburg, the income of residents of St. Petersburg is currently higher than in Estonia, and this is likely to remain so.
“I am optimistic and always consider that the glass is half-full. I don’t think that the current situation in the transit trade sector will stay the same. I am sure that we can agree with Russians. As I said, it is not easy to live next to en empire, but we have no option. Therefore, we have two choices: to become Finland which made shoes and ships for the Soviet Union, or Hong Kong that existed 50 years next to a Communist empire. So we must learn how to live next to an empire. Unfortunately, at present we are not very good in this,” he said.