“What are you doing to make the world a better place?” – Interview with Kaupo Kruusmäe from Estonia

Tell me a little about yourself. Who are you? Where are you from? And how do you spend your free time?

I’m Kaupo. I’m from Viljandi, Estonia. Well, I go to Viljandi’s gymnasium. I study math and physics there. After school, I usually go to training. I’m a footballer. I play for Viljandi’s football club. I enjoy spending my free time training or playing video games. And yeah, that’s about it, I guess. What else can I say? I’m 18.

Do you consider yourself to be an active member of society? Do you contribute to your community in any way? 

Yeah, I would say I definitely am because I also am a member of the student council in Viljandi gymnasium. And I’ve created and managed quite a couple of events. For example, a drive-in cinema, and Velokulg, which is a bike trip, for people all over Viljandi. People can just come together and ride their bikes together around the town. And I think, by being a footballer, I’m sort of out there for the public. And I think, since there are many children in Viljandi that play football, I’m almost like a role model for them. And I hope that by leading with a great example, I also create new, active people in the community out of those young people who grow up and also start doing their work for the community.

Why do you feel the need to be an active participant in your community or to be a role model?

Well, I don’t know, if I feel the need to, it’s more like a want than a need. I think it’s a great feeling to know that you’ve helped someone or that someone is proud of you or that people look up to you. You know, it’s a great feeling to know that you’ve done the right thing, and for people to acknowledge it, and then also try to follow in your footsteps.

Now, if we look into the political aspects of living in Estonia. Firstly, how would you describe your country to a foreigner?

Well, I’d first, let them try to find it on a map because it isn’t the biggest country and it’s almost shadowed by big Russia. Estonia is a small country. We’re very technologically advanced, we have an alright economy, and it’s very nature filled.

What are the perks of living in Estonia?

Well, it’s very quiet, you don’t feel fear. When you live in America, I can’t imagine actually being afraid of going to school because there might be someone shooting the place up. Also, we haven’t had any terrorist attacks, and basically, zero plane crashes. It’s a very small country and nothing happens here. It’s a boring country with a boring, boring life. (laughs)

What are the current problems in Estonia?

I’d say the Russia-Ukrainian war has created a lot of stress in our community and in our people because we’re right next to Russia, and if they decide to attack one of their neighbors, when will they want to attack us? You know, we were a part of the USSR. He (edit: Putin) might want to restore “the glory” of the USSR.

Other than that?

Other than that, I guess it’s the same electricity again. But compared to the fear of war, it’s not that important.

How have these issues, for example, the war in Ukraine, impacted your domestic affairs? Do you have any tension between society members?

Well, there is definitely some tension between nationalities, people who are ethnically Russian living in Estonia, on Estonian soil, who are brainwashed by Russian propaganda, and who are in favor of the Ukrainian war. And most of our public, a very high percentage of the public, is, of course, rooting for Ukraine, and knows that Putin is a bad guy, but not everyone. And it can really create some tension, especially between Ukrainian refugees who have fled to Estonia. I haven’t seen any conflict myself, but you can’t say that it isn’t there. I bet it’s in every country where Ukrainians have departed to.

But if we move on to the political affairs of your nation, how would you describe your political sphere, and what parties are in power right now?

Well, I’m not very into politics.

But just from your viewpoint. What have you seen or turned your attention to, as someone, who is not that much interested in politics?

What can I say? I think people don’t give a lot of credit to our politicians. But having seen the way Estonia has grown over its very few years of life. Actually. It’s only been thirty-one years since we regained our independence. We’ve been free from the Soviet Union for only 31 years, but our technological and economical rise has been really good and you can’t have that without competent politicians in my opinion. 

How would you describe your current political situation? Is it good, do you see a lot of tension, what does it seem like to you?

What I have seen is a lot of demagoguery. A lot of demagoguery as in people trying to control and manipulate through words and gestures. And I think it’s very scum how people in our politics tend to give a lot of promises. But we don’t really see many results. To me, it feels like our politicians are just getting into the parliament and into the office, just for the money and to stay there as long as possible, not to actually help our community or help the people of Estonia.

How has the war in Ukraine impacted you?

Well, as long as it’s not in your own country, you feel sort of distant from it. Like, that it’s there, it’s happening, but it feels like a totally different world. Feels like, it’s somewhere there, and we’re somewhere here. So I don’t feel like it has affected me a lot. I haven’t met really anyone from Ukraine who’s running from the war, although a few. So I can’t say it has really affected me personally. Of course, I want to help. But you know, how can I?

But you also mentioned the problems with the energy prices. What do you see are the main causes behind the problem? And how are the people in your nation dealing with the prices?

I think the biggest problem is the reliance on international energy sources, for example, Russia and Germany, and I think even Norwegian energy sources. Just Estonia isn’t making enough energy by itself, so it needs to import it from other countries. And especially in the case of Russia, if they just decide not to pump energy into our country, it’s going to be very difficult for us. (Editor’s Note: Estonia hasn’t imported Russian gas or electricity since the spring of 2022). We need to get self-sufficient in my opinion, and that will help us control the market, and maybe even export some of the leftover energy ourselves to improve the economy.

Let’s move towards the media grounds. What right now gets the most coverage in the media? Is it still COVID or war in Ukraine, or energy prices?

Well, COVID is basically over, I guess. There’s nothing of that. It is mostly about electricity prices and the Ukrainian-Russian war. That’s basically everything that’s on right now. It’s either one or the other really, apart from some politics of course.

How often do you actually read the news or keep yourself up to date?

So and So? It really depends on my mood. if I feel like I want to read about the Russian-Ukrainian war and educate myself more on that, then I have the possibility to do so. Same with politics and stuff, but you know, it’s when I’m in the mood. I read it, but not too often.

Are you interested in politics at all?

No, not really, I know that politics are very important and very important for the government and for our country to manage. But I don’t really feel the need to contribute there myself, I don’t feel like I have the ability to do so. I don’t feel like I can contribute myself. And I don’t feel like I want to get stuck in there.

How interested are you in foreign aspects of the world? 

Well, I think you need to be somewhat aware of what’s going on around you. And you need to know what is going on in the world to sort of predict what might happen in your country. So, again, from time to time, I do read up on foreign news as well. But it’s a rare occasion.

You are considered to be a part of Gen Z, who are the ones who should change our world and the future we’re heading to, that it’s in our hands. So what is the biggest worry that’s on your mind about the community you live in? About the nation, you live in? About the world, we live in?

Well, I’d say about the world, it’s the same energy management, how big countries like Germany and France are supposed to go carbon-free by the year 2050. But without any nuclear power plants, I mean, I’m sure that it’s possible. But at the rate that we are going right now, it’s not going to happen, to be honest. Especially with Russia, right now, turning off its energy supply to other countries, it’s going to be very difficult to manage our energy and to produce it well enough not to just come home one day and realize that, oh, we don’t have any more energy. So that we can’t use the fridge, we can’t use the computer, we can’t have the lights on so it’s a real problem, I think.

To come back to your nation’s level, what are your hopes for the future that your nation will achieve or develop in?

I hope to see my country excel in foreign affairs because there have been instances of our politicians treating other countries’ politicians badly and not leaving the best appearance of themselves. And so I really hope that whenever people think of Estonia they think of good, kind people who are willing to put in the work to make themselves and the world a better place.

How will you contribute to this goal yourself?

Oh, wow. Well, as I said, I’m not that into politics myself, and I don’t think I’m going to become a politician. But I’ll be sure to elect the right people if I have the possibility to do so. Every vote counts, right? I’m sure to leave the best impression of myself on other people and other foreigners as much as I can. 

Imagine that you can talk to a youth your age from Greece or Azerbaijan or Saudi Arabia or America. What would you ask them? 

I would ask them “What are you doing to make the world a better place?”.

(This interview was conducted on the 3rd of October)

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