When Estonia debuted in Eurovision, I (and most of my fellow countrymen in Sweden) mainly thought of them as a financially poor country that we sent massive amounts of charity. Geographically close but culturally distant.
Maybe their first attempt didn't change much in how most Swedes percieved them, but Silvi Vrait stroke a chord with me and a very special relationship developed between me and Estonian eurosongs. A relationship that would, in its own little way, change my life radically.
Silvi sang her heart out but only scored a mere two points, but she and her song are fantastic in my book.
Silvi Vrait - Nagu merelaine (Estonia 1994)
Two years later, Estonia would be back with a new conviction and I was to see my first Eurovision live in Oslo. My Estonian neighbour in Västerås hand-painted an Estonian flag for me as my favourite was "Kaelakee hääl", the remarkably catchy little duet about placing your voice inside a necklace so somebody can carry it with him/her into the world.
Ivo Linna & Maarja - Kaelakee hääl (Estonia 1996 preview)
In Jerusalem in 1999, I thought it could be time for the first Estonian victory - I predicted that had it been the turn of a ballad, it had to be Evelin Samuel to take the title. I was not entirely wrong - she got sixth place and was the best placed ballad on the night.
Evelin Samuel & Camille - Diamond Of Night (Estonia 1999 preview)
The life-changing thing, then? When Estonia finally won and hosted the contest in 2002, I made friends with the Finnish delegation which, in addition to many other things, lead to me changing countries and moving to Finland.
So I have many reasons to love Estonia. Producing a pop star like Ines is just one of them.
Ines - Once In A Lifetime (Estonia 2000)