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Amber Coast
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Amber Coast Archive:
Articles by Mel Huang

With his Amber Coast column, Mel Huang has been a prolific contributor to Central Europe Review since the beginning of 1999. His observations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are among our most popular articles week after week.

Volume 3

26 February 2001
Fading Lights
The final instalment of the Amber Coast column and a change of guard in CER's Baltics department.

5 February 2001
The Sweet Turns to Sour
The increasingly dirty game of privatisation in the Baltic states.

22 January 2001
A Mosque with a View
Tallinn debates the pros and cons of building a house of worship for its Islamic minority.

15 January 2001
Carving Out a New Estonia
Estonia is gerrymandering its way into mapping new districts.

15 January 2001
Not in Our Backyard
Reports of Russian nuclear weapons being moved into Kaliningrad send a shiver down the spines of the Baltic region and the US Congress.

8 January 2001
Lithuania's Own-goal Politics
Recent political maneuvering may threaten Lithuania's integration into the EU and NATO.

Volume 2

11 December 2000
Playing Catch-up
Lithuania spent the year watching its neighbors make progress.

11 December 2000
Who Cares?
As prosperity spreads, Estonians couldn't care less about politics.

27 November 2000
The Lost Boys
Recent terrorist attacks in Latvia show that extremist groups pose a serious threat to national security.

20 November 2000
Estonia for Sale
Nordic investment fuels fears of a loss of the family silver in Estonia.

13 November 2000
Lithuania's Progress
A summary of the EC's 2000 Progress Report on Lithuania.

13 November 2000
Estonia's Progress
A summary of the EC's 2000 Progress Report on Estonia.

13 November 2000
The World According to Dubya
If Bush does win the US presidency, we'll have "Chicken Kiev" on the menu again.

6 November 2000
KGB Skeleton in the Closet
A secret agreement with the KGB, signed nearly ten years ago, resurfaces to shake the very foundations of Estonia.

30 October 2000
The Politics of Intrigue
A local political crisis looming in Tallinn could have national implications for Esonia.

16 October 2000
Voting for Instability
Lithuanians expressed their desire for change at the polls last week, but the results may only breed more confusion.

2 October 2000
Driving into Uncertainty
The tense political year in Lithuania reaches a climax this week as voters go to the polls.

25 September 2000
Grave Diving
Six years after the ferry Estonia went down, the waters have still not settled around her.

18 September 2000
Latvia's Shaky Scales of Justice
After a year of feeble sentences, protracted trials, bungled cases and international criticism, Latvia's justice system is in shambles.

11 September 2000
Bad Timing
Relations between China and Lithuania cool, as a two-day official visit is reduced to a two-hour layover.

4 September 2000
Military Musical Chairs
An Estonian military commander's dismissal sparks confusion in Parliament.

3 July 2000
Deal of the Decade
The closing of the privatisation deal for Estonia's two main power plants ends a mini-epic which began in the mid-1990s.

26 June 2000
Echoes of Joachim and Vyacheslav
Support for the Baltic states' NATO entry has come from both traditional allies and newer friends alike; Germany, however, remains noticeably silent.

12 June 2000
The Torchbearer Dies
Estonia is in shock at the death of Lepo Sumera, the composer who tried to entwine hope and hopelessness.

5 June 2000
Borders Up! Reviewed
By Vitali Vitaliev
Vitaliev's drunken chronicle is as poignant as any serious study of Central and Eastern Europe.

5 June 2000
Boozing in the Baltics
Already heavily imbibing nations, 50 years of Soviet occupation did little to temper the drinking habits of Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians.

22 May 2000
Head Count
The first census in independent Estonia will shape policy decisions for years to come.

15 May 2000
Winning Is Everything
Latvia's victory over Russia in the World Hockey Championships has implications beyond the world of sports.

9 May 2000
On PR and Extremism
The pros and cons of proportional representation in old and new democracies.

9 May 2000
Between Helsinki and a Hard Place
Luxembourg is closer to Brussels than Helsinki: for the two groups of EU member candidates this is a hard fact.

2 May 2000
Reversing the Rudder
In less than a decade, Estonia has built a small yet commendable military, but the men at the helm have moored the reform process.

25 April 2000
Lithuania's Loons Take off
Lithuania's radicals used to be discounted as populist loons, but a recent electoral victory has brought them surprising new significance.

17 April 2000
Stability Sacrificed
Political tension in Latvia shifted into overdrive when the government collapsed last week.

10 April 2000
The Former Frontier
Six years ago, a trip to the Baltics was on par with polar exploration. Not anymore. We examine tourism in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in detail.

3 April 2000
Does Estonia Have a Left?
Estonia's political map is a strange creature. It seems no one wants to be firmly on the left wing. Established left-wing parties move further and further to the centre, while those on the left shudder at being labelled so.

27 March 2000
A Leap into the Unknown
Results from the 19 March local elections in Lithuania saw the country take perhaps its first step into the political unknown in this year of double electoral jeopardy.

21 February 2000
Politicking over Paedophilia
Political bickering in Latvia hit a new low over the past week when several high-ranking government officials were linked to a paedophilia scandal.

14 February 2000
Retrieving Stolen Property
Throughout Central and Eastern Europe, the issue of property restitution has caused conflicts which go beyond the basic notion of the sanctity of ownership. In this region, restitution is a catch-all tag under which lie difficult questions.

7 February 2000
A Chat with Latvia's Image-maker
Central Europe Review was privileged to be able to chat with Ambassador Ojārs Kalniņš, the new director of the Latvian Institute.

31 January 2000
Dissing His Own Product
Tallinn Mayor Jüri Mõis has raised a lot of eyebrows of late.

24 January 2000
Estonia's Purveyors of Prog
The experimental and ground-breaking Estonian rock group, Ruja, gained massive public devotion and produced some of the best progressive rock.

24 January 2000
The Visionary of Hiiumaa
Hiiumaa-born musician Erkki-Sven Tuur has managed to bring his vision from a small paradise island in the Baltic to the world.

17 January 2000
Off the Mark
In Estonia's eager bid for NATO membership, PR has overwhelmed actual needed reforms of its military.

10 January 2000
History Greets the New Year on the Baltic
The visit of a prominent Holocaust victim and the discovery of a notorious Nazi criminal demanded a revisiting of Latvia's and Lithuania's painful wartime history.

10 January 2000
Bye Bye Boris
Russian President Boris Yeltsin's resignation surprised many people; the host of surrounding misguided analyses from the international press didn't.

Volume 1

13 December 1999
Baltic Rollercoaster
From significant political shifts and economic collapse to EU hopes and regional pork wars, 1999 was an eventful year in the Baltics.

6 December 1999
Chechnya: An Honorary Baltic State
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have shown great solidarity with the Chechen cause against Moscow.

29 November 1999
Why the "Baltic States"?
Over the years, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have been lumped together as the "Baltic states." But why?

22 November 1999
Latvia's Campaign against Democracy
In the past few weeks the development of Latvia's political culture took an abrupt and disastrous turn.

15 November 1999
A Beginning, Not an End
The collapse of the Wall was one of the most potent catalysts for the increase in activities of the Baltic national movements.

1 November 1999
Rock Estonian Style
Throughout Ruja's 17-year existence, this groundbreaking band kept a distinct Estonian flavour and became the best-loved cult rock band in the country.

25 October 1999
Deflating Election Experience
Local elections in Estonia turn out to be an anticlimax.

18 October 1999
Symbolic Meeting of "5+1"
Estonia trying to unite the front-running EU aspirant countries before the Helsinki summit of the European Council.

11 October 1999
Modern-day Pirates
Estonia is awash with pirates—pirates of music, video and software.

4 October 1999
It's Never Too Late
Age should play no role in the prosecution of the Baltic States' war criminals.

27 September 1999
Historical Regicide
A new report suggests collusion between inter-war Estonian President Konstantin Pats and the Soviets.

20 September 1999
The Emergence of Tartu
Up and coming Tartu is challenging Tallinn's dominance.

20 September 1999
Running toward Helsinki
Estonia may have jeopardised its position as a front-runner for EU membership.

13 September 1999
A Friendly Invasion
Scottish football and Estonian independence.

13 September 1999
War in the Woods: Estonia's Struggle for Survival, 1944-1956
by Mart Laar
War in the Woods tells the story of the freedom fighters, "Forest Brothers," that took to the woods after the second Soviet occupation of Estonia's.

23 August 1999
Ten Years After
On 23 August 1989, some one million Balts linked hands and created one of the longest human chains in history.

23 August 1999
Lithuania's Nuclear Dilemma
Lithunia must choose between maintaining self-sufficiency and potentially incurring the wrath of the EU.

16 August 1999
Latvia's Pension Tension
No one doubts there is a crisis in Latvia's social services sector.

9 August 1999
The Other Brussels Target
NATO as perhaps greater goal then EU membership for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

2 August 1999
Hitting the Bottle, and the Road
High-profile incidents involving alcohol and well-known politicians highlight the problem that alcohol poses for Estonia.

26 July 1999
A Hot Summer in Riga
Aside from 30C temperatures, the summer has been extremely hot in Riga for other reasons—politics.

26 July 1999
A Step Backwards for Estonia?
Why is EU membership important for Estonia at all?

19 July 1999
Lithuanian Parliament Fails to Clean House
The failure to strip the parliamentary mandate of convicted member Audrius Butkevicius.

19 July 1999
Surfing the Baltic
As in most parts of the world, the Internet is booming in the Baltic.

12 July 1999
The New Latvian President: Not a Moment Too Soon
Gender was hardly an issue in the recent Latvian presidential election.

28 June 1999
The Emergence of Tartu in Estonia
The Estonian world is becoming less focused on Tallinn.

Volume 0

5 July 1999
Doing It Half Right
The controversy in Estonia surrounding the reburial of Alfons Rebane.

21 June 1999
Latvia's Outgoing President
The presidential election in Latvia on 17 June ended one of the most significant chapters in the nation's history.

21 June 1999
A New President for Latvia
After months of wondering, the Latvian people have finally discovered who would succeed Guntis Ulmanis as President of Latvia.

14 June 1999
Private Sector Lustration
The Lithuanian parliament takes lustration to a new level.

7 June 1999
Right-Wing Socialists
A curious new political category emerges in Estonia.

31 May 1999
What the EU Brings to Estonia
Estonia seeks EU membership.

24 May 1999
An Absurd Idea From the Sea
Estonian President Lennart Meri's absurd idea.

17 May 1999
They're All Paid Off
The sacking of the Latvian Economics Minister unleashes a war of words.

10 May 1999
And This Round Goes to the President
Lithuanian President Adamkus wins a round in fight with Conservatives.

3 May 1999
What Came From Washington
No surprises for the Baltic states at the NATO summit in Washington.

26 April 1999
War of Words Explodes
The rift between Lithuanian President Adamkus and the Conservative Party heats up.

19 April 1999
The Telephone War and the Presidency
Telephone tariffs and Latvian politics.

12 April 1999
Lithuania needs to focus its reforms.

6 April 1999
Relations with Finland
Estonia's success and relations with Finland.

30 March 1999
Reflections on independence
Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and NATO.

22 March 1999
Assessing the New Government
Building a new government in Estonia.

15 March 1999
Marching Season
Tension between Latvians and the Russian minority in Latvia.

8 March 1999
There's Something about Meri
President Lennart Meri has managed to get Estonians talking yet again.

8 March 1999
Surfing the Baltic
Internet usage in the Baltic states.

8 March 1999
And the Winner Is...
Surprise results in the Estonian elections.

1 March 1999
Lithuania's Nuclear Dilemma
Lithuania's future, nuclear power and the European Union.

22 February 1999
The Final Stretch
Election fever is spreading in Estonia with elections only two weeks away.

15 February 1999
"International Justice" and Lithuania's Dilemma
With all the recent controversy over cross-border justice, Lithuania has found itself in a precarious position.

8 February 1999
Is This Really Latvia's Way?
A look at Latvia's Way, the leading political party since Latvia's independence.

1 February 1999
Who Runs Lithuania?
The ongoing power-struggle between President Valdas Adamkus and Seimas Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis.

19 January 1999
Stability Still Not in Style
Observers warn of an imminent government crisis in Latvia.

26 January 1999
Elections for the Millennium
Estonian prepares for the upcoming March elections.


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