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Nat’s Adventure of Obtaining Her Majesty - The Estonian Visa
Natasa Stevanic | 17 December 2004


or Nat’s Attending the Estonaian Seminar on Information Policy & Law Adventure or How ICT’s can fail in real life


Nat lives in Serbia and Montenegro. Since milica (she prefers that her name is not written with capital letter), who got invited to attend the iLaw seminar in Tallinn could not make it – Nat went in her place to participate in this event, learn new things and mingle with the crowd – also known as networking with people. As is usually the case, being a citizen of Serbia and Montenegro most likely implies one needs a visa, and has to – for starters - undergo collecting bunch of papers for the visa application procedure. Unfortunately, there is no Estonian Embassy in Serbia and Montenegro (from now on - SaM for short to prevent numerous and annoying repetitions from occurring) to apply for a visa. The nearest embassies can be found in Athens or Vienna. However, in order to get there a citizen of SaM needs to go through another painful, tedious and time and money consuming visa application process – for Greece or Austria. There is a way to alleviate this – by going to Ankara, Turkey, where there is also an Estonian Embassy, and where one can buy the Turkish visa at the border – no questions asked! So, I proposed this to logistics iLaw seminar support people (a very kind, supportive and highly efficient Zhanna Pilving) from Tallinn and they agreed it makes sense to do it this way. However, due to budget limitations (this trip to Ankara stay at the hotel food and taxi costs would come up to 900 Euros) we gave up this option and they set on a journey to search for a different, less costly solution. Soon they came up with it: they would write to their Ministry of Interior and try to get their approval to issue visas to several iLaw participants upon their arrival at the very border of Estonia.

***

At one point I got the impression things were settled with the Ministry of Interior – I was told to get a ticket. I swiftly negotiated with my superior to get an immediate one week vacation and bought the return ticket to Tallinn. I treated myself with two extra vacation days – a Friday before departure to the seminar, and a Monday after it – so that I can prepare properly for departure/ for going back to work, settle my thoughts, impressions, write something for WITT once I came back and do some planning if inspired by the seminar. Also, I took good care about the clothes I am wearing so that I would have things to take with me to Estonia, did the washing, ironing, bought the biggest package of domestic chocolate for Zhanna. On the night before departure I prepared sandwiches, threw all the stuff that are prone to decay from the fridge and made a list of friends and their home address to send them the thinking_about_you/kisses_and_hugs/best_regards postcards from Estonia. I set two alarm clocks – one on my cell phone and the other on a wall clock, plus I ordered to be woken by phone service – just in case. A cab was waiting for me in front of the building on Sunday morning. The plane was leaving on 9:15, and I left for airport exactly two hours ahead of this time.

***

I stood in the line in front of the check-in counter, it was not crowded. A pleasant smiling lady greeted me, took my ticket, passport and started marking my luggage. At one point she asked if I had a visa for Estonia – and I said I didn’t. She next took a book from a nearby shelf and stated leafing through it. Then, she got up, smiled and said she has to check something. It took her a while to get back to the counter, during which time a queue has been formed behind me. It was a bit embarrassing, and it inevitably reminded me of movies where the bad gal is being cross checked with police records as the clerk’s suspicion has been aroused due to his good perception and memory, as well as the obvious anxiety of the woman standing in front of him/her desperately truing to keep it cool. The woman on the opposite of the clerk usually turns out to be the notorious offender whose head is hunted and who is wanted throughout several states (even tough she is in fact innocent, and there has been a massive scale misunderstanding and incredible circumstances that led people to conclude she is a true villain, so the audience is cheering passionately for her to find her way to justice, freedom and fairness), and so far has been impossible to trace! And I am quite a “catch” you see – an authentic notorious villain: an engineer working for national Telekom company during the day, wearing an activist mask “by night”, fighting day in day out, side by side with the above mentioned colleague Milica - “against” free software CMS SPIP to revive our organization’s web site and taking rare days off work to attend a seminar on Internet law in Estonia!

To be continued...





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