Far away, away, fading, distant lights... Leaving us all behind, lost in a changing world... And you know that these are the days of our lives... Remember...
— A Banks, P Collins, M Rutherford
It is with a very heavy heart that I write this particular column, as it marks the end of the road. As of the publication of this piece, I am stepping down as the Baltics editor of Central Europe Review. The reasons range from professional differences of opinion to personal matters, but they matter little. In this final column of the Amber Coast, I want to share a few personal thoughts.
In a way, the lights have been fading for some time on the hallowed Amber Coast. It is still difficult to believe how far Central Europe Review has come in less than two years. I still remember the day when the discussions on starting a new e-magazine began back in 1999, and I still read over those early e-mails to keep in perspective our work in 2001.
However, as Central Europe Review continues to develop and grow, the impact of divergent ideas and exterior factors increases naturally. And it took a lot of soul searching and deep thought to come to this gut-wrenching decision. It is never easy to step away from something you love, something into which you put so much of your heart and soul. But the time has come.
The column has seen its good and bad days, and I still shudder reading some from the past, strewn with errors of spelling and fact. However, I feel it has accomplished its goal of bringing Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania a little closer to the rest of the world, even if a lot of it reflected upon their problems and growing pains. My only regret was that politics and economics demanded so much of my attention and stopped me from pursuing some of my greatest interests in the cultural field, exposing to the world the real essence of what Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are. What Mart Laar did in 1999 or Algirdas Brazauskas said in 1989 is one thing, but what Mikalojus Čiurlionis composed in 1900 and what Maarja-Liis Ilus sang in 2000 is far more important to our souls.
The Baltics special issue in the summer of 2000 was, in a way, a highlight of CER's coverage of the Baltics. It brought together many of the region's talents and covered areas as diverse as politics and progressive rock music to Tibetan thought in Lithuania and social transformation. I'm immensely proud of the work in that issue, and I want to offer a personal thanks to everyone that participated in the project.
Another strange result of my work on this column is the amount of disenchantment it has brewed up along the Baltic coast. Some called my writings alarmist, others accused me of waving dirty laundry for the world to see. Some asked me to tone down my criticism, others asked for better PR for the Baltic states from me in my writings. Most of my former jobs called for promotion of the Baltic states at all costs, but I feel the closest and truest to my adopted home when I speak my mind. After all, honesty is the best policy. And, after all this, if people are still questioning my dedication to these three little countries, there is no argument that would sway them.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone at CER, starting with our Cultural Editor Andrew J Horton, who was the one that brought me into the fold with CER's predecessor publication, the Electronic New Presence. Much thanks go to former Editor-in-Chief Andrew Stroehlein for his vision and dedication to developing CER over its existence, but the biggest special thanks go to former Deputy Editor-in-Chief Kazi Stastna, the best editor anyone could have asked for.
I'd also like to thank all of the editing team, especially Rob Young and Rob Salvato, for their hard work in getting this column and the various Baltic news reviews into the fine form that you see every week. I want to also wish new Editor-in-Chief Catherine Lovatt the very best in a new challenging role, as well as my Baltic news writers Aleksi Vakkuri, Inga Pavlovaitė, Daria Kulagina, and Kristin Marmei. It indeed has been a great pleasure to work with all of you.
But, most of all, I want to thank you, my readers, for making this past two years the most interesting experience of my professional life. No doubt I will return somewhere at some point, doing the same Baltic things as I do now, but I will miss the opportunity to share with you my thoughts on those three beautiful countries here on CER's pages. I leave here with much pride in the magazine, its accomplishments and future triumphs. I am sure CER will continue stronger than ever in the future, and I wish the best to any future successor to this post.
In closing, I'll leave a passage of a poem from the master under pseudonym Jüri Üdi, as sung by a personal hero, Urmas Alender. Thank you, suur tänu, liels paldies, ačiū labai.
Igal hetkel sünnib suuri asju Päevast päeva järjest suuremaid Vanad männid paljastavad juuri Päevast päeva järjest suuremaid
— J Üdi
Mel Huang, 26 February 2001
The whole staff of CER would like to thank Mel Huang for his outstanding work over the years. Mel's efforts have been essential in getting the Baltic countries included in our coverage and keeping them in the international eye. Mel has been a pleasure to work with, and we wish him all the best in the future.
We'd also like to welcome our new Baltic Editor, Sandra Medearis, former Editor-in-Chief of The Baltic Times. Welcome aboard!
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