esmaspäev, juuni 04, 2007

A proposal on resolving Estonia's minority issues

I don't have a lot of time to write this, but the ideas are fresh in my head and I want to get them out there. For about a month now, especially after the riotathon in Tallinn a few weeks back, and also in light of last year's Amnesty International report, I have been scratching my head over how to deal with Estonia's so-called minority issues.

I say so-called in that it is abundantly clear that Europe today faces integration problems from the Irish Sea to the Baltic Sea. Some of the minority issues are longstanding -- Roma in Slovakia. Others are newer -- Muslims in Denmark. And some are agewise in between -- Russian-speakers in Estonia. Because of general European convergence these issues are being pushed to the foreground at a time that the absolutist nation state ideal is being tested by the formation of a supranational organization in Europe -- the European Union.

But the question is, how can Estonia act locally in the quest to both preserve its language and make its minorities feel wanted and comfortable and, well, integrated into a larger social whole?

I would like to start this discussion by pointing out a few facts. The first fact is that no major international organizations take issue with Estonia's unilingual state language policy. The fact that the sole official language of Estonia is Estonian is not an issue. It is not even an issue in the Amnesty Report, which endorsed this tenet of Estonian language policy at the same time as critiquing some of its repercussions -- like the existence of the language inspectorate.

A second fact is that no major international organizations take issue with language reform in the Estonian school system. No one is willing to argue that a certain of percentage of schooling in Estonian language is wrong. They critique its implementation, but not the philosophy behind it. Why? Because it is acceptable. The Germans, French, and others know full well that they would do the same when put in a similar situation. So it's not an issue.

However there are several issues that seem to hover unaddressed, and perhaps now is the time to discuss them. One is the idea that Russian-language speakers are not a recognized national minority in Estonia.

My proposal to handle this situation would be to emulate the Swedish model. That is, declare any number of minority languages to be "official minority languages". In Sweden there are five official minority languages -- Finnish, Meänkali, Sami, Romani, and Yiddish. The "test" for determining a minority language rests on the presence of that language in the country for a period of longer than 100 years.

So an Estonian "declaration of minority languages" could follow a similar pattern. Russian, Swedish, Võru, Setu, and other minority languages would receive official recognition of their existence. I think it is correct not to give preferential treatment to one minority group over another depending on size. They all should be treated the same and given similar measures of official recognition.

This will also benefit Estonia in the international environment. It's pretty obvious that Russia's anti-Baltic posturing is used to deflect criticisms about its own dismal human rights situation. By taking such steps, Estonia would be shown to be proactive and the EU would be able to deflect that criticism. And who would argue with the same language policies that they have in Sweden, the greatest country on Earth (TM)?

Secondly, there is the issue of a lack of higher education in Russian. This was one of the central points in the Amnesty report. To handle this policy, I believe that Estonia should look outside of its borders because it is unrealistic to expect that a country of 1.3 million people will be able to support a full higher education system for the benefit of 340,000+ people. It's not feasible.

During the Soviet era, Russian-language instructors could easily be relocated from within the Soviet Union. Now that Estonia is an EU country, it's probably easier to find English language instructors than Russian ones. So the solution here is to form active partnerships with Russian universities. Rather than importing instructors to build a university system for the benefit of 340,000 people, Estonia should work to export its students to universities in St. Petersburg, for example. Make it easy for them to go in terms of getting a visa and sending transcripts. That makes more sense to me. Maybe this option already exists, but, hey, I'm just a blogger.

Finally, on condition of employment and political rights, especially in Ida-Virumaa cities like Kohtla-Järve and Narva, I think that any two speakers of a minority language should have the right to communicate with each other in that language. It's a bit silly to say this because the fact is that this is a right that is already taken. People in Narva aren't preventing from getting a cab in Russian just because of Estonian language policy.

In fact, I believe that this kind of behavior is already protected. But that doesn't matter because sometimes useless acts of political niceness go a long way in making people feel like they count. Never underestimate the value of feel-good statements from politicians. Therefore Toomas Hendrik Ilves should continue making speeches about how "we're all in this together" and "Estonia needs you." It doesn't change much officially, but it helps set the tone.

66 kommentaari:

McMad ütles ...

Estonia should not make Russian an official minority language, just as Holland is not making Turkish an official minority language. Estonia is already extremely lenient with Russians, they have russian language schools etc. One must not forget that Russians in Estonia are not the same as most of the minorities in other European countries. They are not native (as Sami in Finland for example) nor did they come to Estonia by officially asking permission from legal Estonian government as did the Turks in Holland, Germany etc. Russians came to Estonia as colonists,just as the British in India, Dutch in Indonesia etc. And as such they dont have anything to demand.
As for Amnesty International, that organisation has lost its credibilty in the last decade completely. Up to early 90es they were a useful source of information but by now they are clearly an extreme-leftist organisation.

Estonia in World Media (Rus) ütles ...

In administrative decisions pros and cons are evaluated, which means benefits and costs.
The benefits are that the Russians would feel slightly better, that AI would not write bad things.
But are there any costs of this reform?

space_maze ütles ...

Well .. making Russia a recognised minority language would be something that would seem appropriate for the sake of the Old Believers - they've been in Estonia for something like 400 years, which is, in lots of parts of Europe, "enough" to make a language a recognized minory language. Croatians in Austria have 500 years, for example.

The only "problem" I see with this is Russians possibly taking it for more than it means. Recognised minority language is not the same as official language. That Yiddish is a recognised minority language in Sweden does not mean that you can get a job in Stockholm speaking only Yiddish.

De facto, Russian already has a much higher status that recognised minority languages have elsewhere in Europe (In Austria, for example, Slovenians are VERY lucky to find a school that has 50% teaching in Slovenian .. in areas that are, originally, Slovenian) .. making Russia an recognised minority language *should* only confirm what's already there.

How it would really be taken, and what effects it would have .. I honestly can't say.

Giustino ütles ...

Mcmad, you are wrong. Russians have lived in Estonia for longer than since the end of World War II.

Specifically, I have visited villages in Tartumaa and Jõgevamaa that date back to the 18th century.

Making Russian (and Võru, and Setu, and Swedish and Latvian if you feel like it) official minority languages does not mean that all signs and official correspondence will be done in Russian, Swedish, Võru, and Setu. It simply means that speakers of these languages are acknowledged as existing by the state and receive some rights (such as some education in native language, a right Russians in Estonia already have).

Read up for yourself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minority_languages_of_Sweden

I have been to Sweden many times. At no time did the official minority language of Finnish (spoken by 5 percent of Swedish residents) capture my attention. There were no signs in Finnish in Stockholm, no sellers were speaking to me in Finnish. I heard some but I think those were real Finnish tourists.

So, you see, you can have a language policy that makes people feel good, without actually impacting the efforts to preserve and and grow Estonian literacy.

Giustino ütles ...

How it would really be taken, and what effects it would have .. I honestly can't say.

Technically, it's mostly fluff. Russians already have Russian-language schooling. In Noarootsi, there already is a Swedish language high school.

But I think this would mean more at the 'feel good' level. That is, Russians, especially ones who have read the nasty comments on Postimees, if they can read Estonian, have heard a lot of "tibla valja!" in the past 15 years.

Some of these Estonian attitudes are understandable but in many cases counterproductive.

A simple token declaration like naming official minority languages would have the benefit of 1) defining the role of Russian in Estonian society -- as a minority language on the same level as Võru or Swedish or Latvian. It would finally make it clear that all minorities in Estonia are equals, and that it is unfair that Russian speakers would have more rights than Setu speakers or Swedish speakers.

It would also have the feel-good effect, which I think is being underestimated. I don't think Estonians are big on "feel good"
politics. They are pretty blunt and straightforward. But Russians seem, at least to me, to be a bit more sensitive and perhaps more responsive to that kind of politicking.

McMad ütles ...

Giustino zei...
Mcmad, you are wrong. Russians have lived in Estonia for longer than since the end of World War II.

Specifically, I have visited villages in Tartumaa and Jõgevamaa that date back to the 18th century.


yes, i know about those "old believers", still, we can hardly call them "native" and they form less than 1% of russians in Estonia. And they are being treated by Estonian gov. extremely well. I strongly doubt that those "old believers" have anything to complain about. The complainers are nationalistic russians who miss their soviet era 1-st class citizen status.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

For Germany, there are minority schools for the Danish and for the Sorbs (Slavic people and/or language).
No own schools for the third generation Turkish, Italian, Greek, Spanish and Portuguese.
In Estonia there is a old Russian minority and still have their own schools. New is that the "Soviet Russians" attended the same schools. Then a lot of them became stateless citizens after 1991. In Western Europe it would mean then attending the official school for the majority. But it did not happen in Estonia.

urr ütles ...

The so-called old-beleavers have been living here since the regime of Peter the First. it means not more than 300 years as you might now. it is a very small group and it do not involves three hundred thousand colonists who moved in after 1945 when the russian occupation started.
i know about the situation of Saami language in scandinavian contries and there is nothing to jump about joy. they are indigenous or first people as well as estonians are. but they are treated worse than late immigrants. now you are suggesting something similar here. why aren't you worried about estonians in ida-virumaa? i have lived there in my childhood and i know pretty well how difficult it is for the estonians to manage there with estonian language. they are the real ones who are discriminated.
as it seems that you do not understand what is going on here, why don't you concentrate on something where you are expert?
please try to remember that the colonists from alzheria or kenya left to their homelands. it took a lot of time, but it happened. i'm quite sure that the hostile colonists are going to leave from estonia also and we can deal with more friendly people in the future.

Giustino ütles ...

why aren't you worried about estonians in ida-virumaa? i have lived there in my childhood and i know pretty well how difficult it is for the estonians to manage there with estonian language. they are the real ones who are discriminated.

You don't seem to be understanding what I am writing.

I'll make my point once more.

In 1999, in line with the charter on minority and regional languages, Sweden named five languages that were official minority languages and promised them a modicum of support.

This support is perhaps less than the kind of support the Russian minority in Estonia already enjoys. However, it gave the Swedish minorities a sense of status in Swedish society.

Because Estonia has yet to ratify that charter, and has been criticized for doing so, and has some ethnic divisions, I am saying that taking the step of naming several languages as official minority languages -- namely Swedish, Setu, Võru, Finnish, and Russian -- could be seen as a positive, costless move.

It's costless because the kinds of things that such status provides -- funding for education and cultural centers -- is already present in Estonia.

Estonia language policies would stay basically the same. I too agree that Estonians in Ida-Virumaa should be protected. So I don't see what you are getting worked up about.

I am not suggesting what you think I am suggesting. I mean these laws were passed in Sweden in 1999. Have you noticed any great changes in Sweden domestically since that time because of them?

Mait ütles ...

Undoable. In present climate giving russian languague official recognition would be seen as a 'victory' by certain elements, and a validation of their tactics.

And lest not forget, the 'tiblas' - for them nothing less than normalization (i.e. return to unquestionable supremacy of russian languague) will do.

Btw, ingerian is pretty much dead, less than 200 native speakers left, in Russia which... isn't a good place for finnic nations. You could include ukrainian in your list as ukrainians make up about 2% of Estonia's population. Then again, not many of them actually speak it.

Sgt. Pepper ütles ...

hmm? Justin is basically suggesting that a minor bueaucratic maneuvering might do the trick? Add a small paragraph here, try a tiny addendum there, recategorize and piff-paff, all of a sudden Russians and Estonians will be singing kum-ba-yaa togehter?

:-)

I know you have good intentions, so don't get mad now.

margus ütles ...

http://www.nationalities.ee/EST/art/vaadates.shtml

What nationalities themselves think and what is being done.

Not available in English though which is kinda ironic for that organization.

antonius ütles ...

You see, Giustino, the problem is that anything you'd do will be used against you. I'm not sure how throughly do you follow the Estonian media in both languages, but for any step done towards Russian speaking community you'll get kicked by Estonian side (there are many, who do not make any difference between the slackening of the situation and the betrayal. Have heard a nice name of "syndrome 911" for it) The same any offer to so to say discriminated people, if it will be not good enough, i mean so far they will not feel any significant effect of it, they will take it as a bone thrown to the dog to make it shut up.

space_maze ütles ...

I doubt it would solve the problem. But he does have a point.

Estonians are spectacularily bad at kissing butt. That's part of why I find their culture so appealing - since really, who actually LIKES a brown-noser.

However, other nationalities do do this kind of stuff - it could be a great help for Estonia, PR-wise, to legally acknowledge some rights Russians are already given anyways.

In fact, the rights given to Russians already far exceed the rights given to recognised minorities elsewhere in Europe. So nothing would have to be changed in reality for this.

I could, btw, take Russian nationalists in Estonia more seriously if they were demanding this kind of thing. Alas, Klenski does not want this .. he wants the parliament to switch to Russian. Good luck with that.

Sgt. Pepper ütles ...

Yep. We are bad at brown nosing. Each and every one of us has a chip on his shoulder and a very self-doubting mind behind the stony face at the same time.

Every time I visit my tiny home town in Estonia, I get the feeling that I am returning to the center of the universe. At least, this is the kind of treatment I get from the people I left behind. And I understand them. They amuse me. We are all like that.

Russians have no idea who they are up against. They do not know us while we are reading them through and through. Literally. We understand Russian.

Perhaps we should learn to forgive. This is another thing we do not do, besides kissing butts - forgive. After a long run, it becomes very hard to be consumed with hatred. Perhaps this explains why we live like Russians don't exist - you just can't hate somebody for so long. But you can ignore somebody forever. Or at least until they set your house on fire. But then we deal with it. Stoically. As usual.

Sgt. Pepper ütles ...

aha. That reminds me - my ex wife, who was not estonian, once tried to give me a silent treatment. That was the last time she ever tired that. She only lasted 4 days. She had no idea what an estonian is capable of. I was ready to say hello to her after two years, so I was kind of even disappointed that she did not put up a "fight". :-)

Andres ütles ...

Perhaps we should learn to forgive. This is another thing we do not do, besides kissing butts - forgive. After a long run, it becomes very hard to be consumed with hatred. Perhaps this explains why we live like Russians don't exist - you just can't hate somebody for so long. But you can ignore somebody forever. Or at least until they set your house on fire. But then we deal with it. Stoically. As usual.

This is a novel concept. I've never looked at it like that. You might be right though. Dealing with Russians means that you have to deal with the unpleasant element as well. And since nobody wants "to poke the shit" as the saying goes, everybody just makes a good face and tries to live their life. After all, why SHOULD we pay special attention to the Russians? Are they infants so that they can't sort things out for themselves? Burning houses of course makes it something of vast importance for a while :P

Steven&co ütles ...

Wouldn't this be an excellent topic to post in TOM?

https://www.eesti.ee/tom/ideas.py/avaleht

Giustino ütles ...

Btw, ingerian is pretty much dead, less than 200 native speakers left, in Russia which... isn't a good place for finnic nations.

Right now I'd assume that only Võru, Setu, Swedish, and Russian are "doable" because Võru and Setu have cultural activities funded by the state, and, as far as I know, Swedish and Russian are the only two other languages of instruction in Estonia that are associated with a minority that was here prior to the 20th century.

I doubt it would solve the problem. But he does have a point.

Laws cannot solve problems like these. My proposal looked at two points in the Amnesty Report and came up with ways to address them. No one has talked about my second proposal yet. The idea of making it easy for people to go back to Russia for studies.

This is also good for the integration process because it means that people that have no urge to be included in Estonia will probably find spouses, get jobs, and settle in Russia if it is easy for them to study there.

It will work better than any 'resettle in Kaliningrad" program.

Giustino ütles ...

I could, btw, take Russian nationalists in Estonia more seriously if they were demanding this kind of thing. Alas, Klenski does not want this .. he wants the parliament to switch to Russian. Good luck with that.

The Russian-speakers in Estonia need to be reminded bluntly that they are not the only minority here and that they should not have greater rights than other minorities.

The rannarootslased have been here even longer and they too should have the same rights as Russian-speakers.

Klenski is being a bit pompous if he thinks that the Russian-speaking communities here are the only minority communities that count. In some counties in Estonia (Viljandi, Lääne Viru) there are more Finns than Belarussians or Ukrainians. What about their rights?

I don't think Klenski would win a media war where he is forced to say that Russians are more important that Finns or Rannarootslased.

karLos ütles ...

perhaps it should go on a per-head basis. the smaller the minority the more special cultural assistance they get - you know, to help preserve their culture and stuff.

while preserving the non-threatening and getting amnesty international's super happy points for conservation and diversity, the russian's still get nothing :)

i know i'm being unhelpful.

Heli ütles ...

I don´t understand why mcmad and some others here don´t find this a good idea. It is great and simple suggestion by my oppinion and chance that it would turn against us is very unlikely.
And sgt. Pepper, I very much enjoyed your concept of us, I feel like you hit the nail with it :).

urr ütles ...

dear giustino,
i'm trying to explain you that there are different kinds of minorities in sweden. f.e. saamis are not just ordinary minority, but the indigenous poeple of sweden. they lived there thousands of years before swedes, not to mention late migrants. sweden has shown that their model is not appropriate, because the situation for saamis is much worse than in norway or finland where there are special saami language laws. sweden is almost on the same level as russia where the two thousand saamis living in murmansk area have no rights at all.
indigenous people need special rights, it's not enough to give them the same rights as other migrants will have.
so sweden is not a good example for us. our minorities are also of two types: historical minorities like russians of peipsi shore, swedes, jews, romas and late russian-speaking colonists who have been lived here only 50 years. all of them have the right for cultural authonomy. estonian swedes have already used this opportunity successfully and soon will there be the same status for ingrian finns. so the only thing what russian-speaking people have to do, is to work a bit for getting cultural authonomy. of course it is easier to shout that they are discriminated.
estonia is the only country that estonians have. estonian language must be protected here and the inspection of language is very much needed for this purpose.
actually it is not true that russian-speaking youth does not have a possibility to study in russian in the universities. there are many courses in russian in tartu and tallinn state universities, in viljandi college and in numerous other high schools.
also many russian-speaking young people are already going to study in russia's high school, but many of them are studying in western high schools as well. so i don't see why the state must support the process which is already existing.

urr ütles ...

to giustino
" I too agree that Estonians in Ida-Virumaa should be protected."

do you have any idea how that might happen? any recommendations from the "experts" of amnesty international? are there any charters for indigenous people who are rejected and discriminated in their own indipendent state?

urr ütles ...

to sgt pepper

i agree that the forgiving is a huge issue and a very difficult one. my mind says that we have to forgive, but my heart says that forgiving is possible only when the criminals (like f.e. idel jakobson) have been really accused and when post-soviet russia has got free from the regime of kgb-people and said that they are sorry and it will never happen again.
now it seems that brain-washed soviets are not forgiving to us that we are free and indipendent.

urr ütles ...

to giustino

jews and roma people have been living in estonia for centuries. setu and võru dialects are just dialect, not any kind of minorities languages. of course they need for more support, but so do the other dialect - f.e. mulgi and tartu dialects which belong to the group of southern dialects as well, not to mention the dialects of northern estonia.
my opinion is that the strong economical support to the cultures of minor groups will be the only successful way for solving the national problem. it is only a good thing if people can have their identity as ukrainians, belo-russ etc. but then they must have also at least at some level the education in their own language, not just in russian as it is now. state must support them more.

Giustino ütles ...

do you have any idea how that might happen? any recommendations from the "experts" of amnesty international? are there any charters for indigenous people who are rejected and discriminated in their own indipendent state?

The only way the language situation in cities like Narva and Kohtla-Järve will reverse is if Estonians move to these places.

You can have an inspectorate that ensures that Estonians have the ability to use their language, but until you Urr, presuming you are male, sire many children and move with them all to Narva, then it doesn't make any differences what laws you pass.

See this is the fundamental problem with Estonians. You are too logical for your own good. I tell you that in order to placate the status issue among Estonian Russians -- that they feel (yes, feelings, do you know what they are?) inferior that maybe this total bureaucratic, Scandinavian, worthless gesture would some how affect that situation, and it is rejected because everything is fine and it's all the Russians fault.

The fact is that the charter on minority and regional languages exists and most European countries have ratified it.

Even Serbia ratified it this year. They named 10 (!) official minority languages.

By taking this simple gesture you may help resolve the psychological status issue in Estonian society and be able to deflect criticism in an international setting.

Estonians will be able to say, "all our minorities have equal language rights to have some schooling in their language and the opportunity to set up cultural autonomies" and, by the way, we have ratified the charter on minority or regional languages.

Will it make a difference? I hope so. People do look for the state to do something. The state actually can do very little. However ceremonial BS (like Ansip laying flowers at the Bronze Soldier) does work to help things once in awhile.

Indrek ütles ...

Since my question is a little off topic I ask it in estonian so You can practice it.

Kas fraas "the greatest country on Earth (TM)" on tegelikult Rootsi tunnuslause ja nende registreeritud kaubamärk (nagu "Welcome to Estonia(tm)") või on see Su enda vaimusünnitis?

Andres ütles ...

Ma ei usu, et keegi oleks nii snooblik, et endale sellise tunnuslause valiks :D

Giustino ütles ...

Ma ei usu, et keegi oleks nii snooblik, et endale sellise tunnuslause valiks :D

Ärke müretsege poisid. Rootslased ongi nii snoobid. Nad ei räägi, et nad on kõige parem riik maailmas, aga nad usuvad küll, et Rootsi on vahva, lahe, ja suureparane. Oivaline ka.

mab ütles ...

Well, I think it's a great idea. I can imagine (sort of) how hard it is for Estonians, but as someone who does PR, one of the most effective gambits is to tell people they are what you want them to be (you are valuable citizens). And to be so nice to them -- so ridiculously nice -- that it knocks the wind out of their sails. I've seen this work so many times, even when I thought it was offensively obvious that I was BS-ing people.

In fact, if I had been asked what to do on may 9, I would have organized the most ridiculous PR event. I would have had thousands of flowers and had the police hand them out. I would have had Estonian and Russian schoolchildren singing dumb songs and dancing. I would have had WE LOVE EVERYONE badges in a zillion languages, which little boys and girls would have handed out. Estonia would have looked great, after 14 adorable Russian and Estonian children gave flowers to screaming Commies, they would have stopped screaming, and it would have been impossible for Russia to make a stink.

I know, I know, it's impossible. But that kind of thing trumps the screaming lunatics all the time.

Giustino ütles ...

Well, I think it's a great idea. I can imagine (sort of) how hard it is for Estonians,

Oh, I understand. I've seen Estonians essentially bullied into speaking Russian by people who are just, for lack of better words, nasty assholes. I mean I don't usually hate people, but I hated those people at that moment.

But at the same time there are various tactics to 'win' here, and I am just saying this could be one of them. It sends the message that all minorities are equal. I think this is important.

Giustino ütles ...

Anybody that's interested in the Rannarootslased should check out this webpage, by the way:

http://www.denandrastranden.com

Sgt. Pepper ütles ...

mab

I like your idea. Maybe we were and are taking everyting too seriously until it becomes a self fulfilling prophesy. Until it becomes too serious. I personally found toothless russians drinking and dancing on T6nism2gi an amusing sight. We should have commercialized that too, like we do with everythign else, packaged it as a product and shown it to tourists. There are millions of WWII buffs who like everything connected to the war. Imagine the reaction of any American Civil War buff in the States offered a chance to meet somebody who wears the uniform and claims to have been there personally. That and a coupong for 30% off on a Bronze soldier t-shirt at selected retailers. Rioters t-shirt commemorating that sacking of Tallinn on 4/26/07 would go at full price of $35 each. Sizes S, L and XXL. Sell it. Use it. Every revolution becomes a tacky product sooner or later. Make money not war, damn it. And laugh all the way to the bank.

Right now it might be a good idea for someone to go stand next to bronze soldier impersonator in a Santa Claus suit. All nice and ho-ho-ho friendly. Welcome to Estonia! Paremaks muutumise maa. Brought to you by A le Coq! Bronze Soldier Trademark owned by Nochnoy Dozor.

We should learn to see humour even in the most horrible events. That would help to keep us all sane ... and prosperous. Negativity only brings disease and misery of all sorts. Forgive, even if they laugh at your forgiveness. And again - make money.

Tõnis ütles ...

Are You aware, that Estonia has law on cultural autonomy for national minorities since 1920s? That gives quite wide possibilities, including organising national schools etc. In this law there are four specially named minorities, namely Germans, Russians, Swedes and Jews.

In pre-war times German, Swedish and Jewish autonomies were formed, now only Ingerians. Russians did not do it then, now there are small group preparing it, but unfortunately not very popular one.

Sadly, I dont see any effect of that 'feel good' politics. Why should declaration of 'official minority language' be in any way different?

Vice versa, I am afraid, that such move would encourage Russians to belive that "this idiotic language policy" is soon to be over and there are no reason to learn Estonian.

Giustino ütles ...

Vice versa, I am afraid, that such move would encourage Russians to belive that "this idiotic language policy" is soon to be over and there are no reason to learn Estonian.

The Russians learn Estonian because they need to be employed and, holy shit, they live in Estonia where most people speak Estonian. I live here, I learned the language for the same reasons.

Think about this: Russian-speakers born after 1992 already have citizenship. So that carrot is already weakening with every year.

I don't think that ratifying the same treaty as the UK, Finland, Ireland, Germany, and basically every other European country is a bad idea, and I think it could be an effective weapon in the international PR debate.

It's a suggestion, made at a time when everybody wants to say that everything is fine and working when it so obviously is not.

urr ütles ...

hi giustino
i'm sorry to tell you that i'm very much female and not a bit male:)
i hope very much that in one beautiful day my kids will go to live to my home village which is situated on the shore of lake peipsi (it's an estonian village, but we have always had good relations with our neighbours in russian villages).
tõnis made very clear why we prefer the institution of cultural authonomy. you should learn more about it.
unfortunately it is not an argument that serbia and sweden had ratified the treaty you mentioned. we have our own institution which has already proved that it is successful solution. we do not need to ratify all papers which are invented in the world.
i'm afraid that you have a bit too romantic picture of swedish society. and estonian culture is much more than just the culture of rannarootsi.

Giustino ütles ...

i'm afraid that you have a bit too romantic picture of swedish society. and estonian culture is much more than just the culture of rannarootsi.

I don't have a romantic picture because I am aware that these laws mean actually very little. I am trying to attempt to communicate a PR move, and nobody gets it because they are just too logical to understand the concept of doing something without really meaning that much. Some call it lying, but mostly it's just called politics.

Giustino ütles ...

Ok, I am tired again. If anyone else wants to argue about this they can, but I am glad my proposal carried enough water to foster a real debate instead of a flame war.

I am happy because blogs and the Internet in general allow people like me to throw out ideas and randomly debate them. I am never 100 percent convinced of these ideas, but I like to argue them. I have argued your position in the past, Urr, quite passionately.

Now I think I will focus on writing more Estonian culture-themed stories.

Nägemist.

mab ütles ...

No, no! I think you provided an excellent solution. The trick is finding a path that lessens threat from Russia, and increases support from allies in the West. That's what you want, right? Morality doesn't work. History doesn't work. Force doesn't work. So -- find a path that does work. It involves doing things that seem abhorant, but, if the result is the above -- that's all that matters.

lultsek ütles ...

Well, I like your idea, for different reason though – it would make the Russians feel themselves in Estonia as a MINORITY. Obviously, from a standpoint of a Russian living in Narva, it is very hard to feel yourself as a member of a minority (in fact, in Narva they even ask you: “How are you doing there in Estonia?”). And even in places where they are less dominant, many of them seem to have difficulties to understand how could they be a minority when there are less than 1 Mio. ethnic Estonians and about 190 Mio. ethnic Russians in the world. Many even feel that learning Estonian is a humiliation for the very same reason. Therefore, identifying themselves as a minority would mean accepting Estonians as a majority, placing themselves as a minority in their “own” state and enjoying their rights as a minority within an exiting political system. That kind of a mental shift would make Russians feel more “home” than any flower put by Mr Ansip for Bronze Soldier. And perhaps the Estonians would feel then less threatened by the ambitions of Russia to appeal to their “compatriots”.

Sgt. Pepper ütles ...

lutsek,

It is a very tempting idea.

What is there to do when you are locked up in the same cage with the mad bear?

Call him "my dear Tsheburashka" and hope it works.

karLos ütles ...

[...] difficulties to understand how could they be a minority when there are less than 1 Mio. ethnic Estonians and about 190 Mio. ethnic Russians in the world.

when put in those terms it's hard to see how any efforts at all, token or otherwise, could make any possible difference for people with such a mentality. the best estonia can hope for is that one day those people will die, and be buried 10 (15, maybe) feet underground.

giustino IS right... although it is hard to accept any compromises, or give any further ground considering the rights already afforded to russians.

after all, if the government can pay (eventually) to fix the damage after a riot every few years, who cares eh? if the worst of the discrimination is punished, then the russians have very little to complain about, in my opinion.

but being supernice would make their complainers look even lamer. that'd be fun. if only i wasn't so indecisive...

martintg ütles ...

In my view, Estonia should and is modelling itself as a republican liberal democracy, similar to France, the USA and most of the Western world. This kind of democracy is based upon the civic nation-state that constitutes a ‘super community’ for the citizens. In addition to being part of the republican state community, every citizen also belongs to a particular community (a cultural, linguistic, or ethnic group that provides a sense of belonging, identity, meaning and purpose). The state is identified with a certain language and culture that every citizen is required to adopt. Legal citizenship and acquisition of the state language and culture are sufficient for inclusion in the
nation-state. Every citizen who acquires the titular language and culture is fully included in the nation-state and nobody is excluded on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender or religion.

karLos ütles ...

nobody is excluded on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender or religion.

what about when they (ie minorities) exclude themselves, or are ghettoized into communities.

i'm not sure it's that simple.

martintg ütles ...

karLos said...
what about when they (ie minorities) exclude themselves, or are ghettoized into communities.


That is their right if they want to exclude themselves, one can't hold a gun to their heads and force them to integrate.

In this case the EU could and should help Estonia, buy allowing non-citizens who do not want to integrate into Estonia the same rights and opportunities as EU-citizens, i.e. the right to live and work anywhere within the EU.

The EU has already granted these people the right to travel within the EU without visas, the EU could go further and allow them to work as well.

Giustino ütles ...

This is kind of a dumb question, but do Narva and Tallinn students ever take field trips to the rest of Estonia -- you know, to see the castle in Põltsamaa, et cetera?

Watching some of the interviews with the kids after the April riots, I got a feeling like they had never left Tallinn before or encountered "the real Estonia".

Estonia in World Media (Rus) ütles ...

The head of dreaded Language Ispectorate does not believe in this idea (Le Monde):

Beaucoup de Russes d'Estonie attendent que le russe devienne langue officielle, comme le demande un parti russophone. Les plus de 40 ans sont donc assez peu motivés." Le russe, deuxième langue officielle ? Ilmar Tomusk n'y croit pas. "Les politiciens n'accepteraient jamais (...), cela coûterait trop cher. Puis il faudrait l'ajouter comme langue de travail à Bruxelles..."

Giustino ütles ...

The idea isn't "official language" like French and English in Canada. The idea is "official minority language" like North Frisian in Germany.

See the difference?

martintg ütles ...

Giustino said...
The idea isn't "official language" like French and English in Canada. The idea is "official minority language" like North Frisian in Germany. See the difference?


The difference is that North Frisian is indigenous to that part of Germany before Germany ever existed, Russian is an import. Germany is a large wealthy country, it can afford the luxury of "official minority languages", Estonia cannot. Estonia already has liberal laws on cultural autonomy, if some don't like the situation, they can move to the UK or France where there exists a large Russian speaking community.

Giustino ütles ...

The difference is that North Frisian is indigenous to that part of Germany before Germany ever existed, Russian is an import.

But there is a difference.

Now, Russians were living near Lake Peipsi before Estonians started calling themselves Estonians.

I know that *most* Russians in Estonia showed up in the past 50 years. But let's not obfuscate. There has been some Russian presence in Estonia for three centuries. How long have Romani been here? Since the 16th century most likely.

Germany is a large wealthy country, it can afford the luxury of "official minority languages", Estonia cannot.

It cannot yet. But it probably will at a wealthier, more secure junction in the future. The question is will people still be thinking in 1991 terms at that moment, or 2020 terms?

I think that cultures have a safety point. Obviously the Lithuanians and Finns feel no threat from their minorities. But Estonians do, or at least some of them. At whatever threshold needs to be crossed, the Estonians will then "grow up" and pass this kind of legislation.

Then again, France hasn't passed it. Perhaps Estonia's ambition is to be a little France.

martintg ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
martintg ütles ...

Giustino said...
Then again, France hasn't passed it. Perhaps Estonia's ambition is to be a little France.


The USA has modeled itself as the same kind of republican liberal democracy as France is, so I don't see why Estonia shouldn't attempt to emulate that model either, do you?

Giustino ütles ...

The USA has modeled itself as the same kind of republican liberal democracy as France is, so I don't see why Estonia shouldn't attempt to emulate that model either, do you?

The US doesn't have an official language. Signs in Chinatown? They are all in Chinese.

France has a unilingual policy that Estonia has emulated. Still, Basque is co-official in parts of France, although the Basques probably had to blow a lot of stuff up to make that happen.

When I read interviews with Estonia's Russian community, I am struck by one of the few things it seems they want is some kind of status. Given that Estonia's language policy shouldn't be reversed, and its citizenship policy is almost done working, how else can you fill a need so that these other integration mechanisms don't come unhinged?

Estonia already fulfills most articles of that charter. In fact, because they will have a Russian-language TV channel soon, one can't help but wonder if they are preparing to sign it at some later stage.

space_maze ütles ...

I don't believe Basque does have any kind of official status in France, actually

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_policy_in_France

Besides French, there exist many other regional languages of France, both in the metropolitan territory of continental Europe and in the French overseas territories. These languages have no official status. The 1999 report written for the French government by Bernard Cerquiglini identified 75 languages that would qualify for recognition under the government's proposed ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Which in France is pretty sad, actually, considering that Basque and Breton are a lot older than the corruption of Latin that French is is. How come we never hear of the French fascists?

Giustino ütles ...

Which in France is pretty sad, actually, considering that Basque and Breton are a lot older than the corruption of Latin that French is is. How come we never hear of the French fascists?

So it's only those liberal Spaniards that let the Basques run the place.

One interesting question is why the Russians in Estonia haven't set up a cultural autonomy. They have the right to do so.

I mean, apparently the Swedes are making progress on this one. So what gives?

http://networkeurope.radio.cz/feature/estonian-swedes-embrace-cultural-autonomy-rights

Pēteris Cedriņš ütles ...

I know that *most* Russians in Estonia showed up in the past 50 years. But let's not obfuscate. There has been some Russian presence in Estonia for three centuries.

I think the Russians/Russophones engage in much more obfuscation with regard to their "roots" in the Baltics than Estonians or Latvians do. See, for instance, this photo. Among Latvia's Russian politicians, inflating their numbers and claiming "roots" for all of the Russophones regardless of the fact that 79% of the 206 499 ethnic Russians in Latvia lived in Latgallia in 1935 and were mostly Old Believers living in rural areas. Most Russophones don't have deep roots here, and that's even more true for Estonia's Russophones.

I found it telling that an ostensibly serious Russian reaction to our ratification of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which (like Estonia's) defined minorities in a way that excludes Soviet migrants, actually complained that the only Russians to be considered a minority are the Old Believers, who are supposedly "assimilated." That's the same definition of "assimilation" used by those fine folks who accuse us of coercive assimilation, apartheid and gross human rights violations, apparently -- in a sense, you could say that having to act like a "normal" minority is what such people reject.

I am struck by one of the few things it seems they want is some kind of status -- indeed, but a declared status is merely a superficial formality that reflects what many really want: collective rights. Your idea isn't a bad one in theory, Giustino, and it's been floated in Latvia time and again by the less radical Russophones, for instance those who constructively opposed the education reform (most opponents were and are not constructive in the least). My primary concern is that it would diminish the definition of what a minority is with regard to the Framework Convention, and I'm afraid I agree with Mait when he writes that for them nothing less than normalization (i.e. return to unquestionable supremacy of russian languague) will do. It's possibly setting us up for a give the devil a finger scenario.

As an idealist, I'm an admirer of the type of multiculturalism we developed in the interbellum. As a realist -- I realize that it had its failings even then, when there were far more favorable demographics. It was essentially segregatory.

Some practical things -- you suggest enhancing educational opportunities in Russia. The students would then return to Estonia having learned what sort of historiography, for example?

I live near what was the oldest Belarusian school in Latvia and one of the largest Polish schools. I think it's wonderful that Poland and Latvia cooperate in education, and I enjoy seeing the Polish flag flying next to the Latvian flag... but would I feel the same about national Russian schools with Russian flags and teachers from Russia? No, sorry -- I'd probably feel what I do when local Russophones wave the Russian flag at sports events, cheering Russian teams (this despite the fact that the Latvian teams include many of their ethnic Russian neighbors).

Though older Baltic Germans in the interbellum mostly reconciled themselves to the Republic and concentrated upon retaining their cultural autonomy, Nazism infected many of the young, and by about 1938 the German structures in Latvia had been subverted by the Nazis. In that case, many of the more poisonous people had been forced out by their defeat (some heading for Munich to influence Herr Hitler). Even so, their cultural autonomy was politicized and at least partially perverted.

Some people even brought up Transnistria-style "solutions" for Estonia after the riots. I'm one of those people who thinks expecting a seismic shift in Baltic Russian consciousness is a dangerous dream, and I base that on about a decade and a half of experiences in a city that's majority Russophone. Changing the broadcasting laws, for example (they were struck down by the Constitutional Court), only resulted in maing almost every radio station in this region Russian-only. The idea that some grand new network of "loyal" Russians would suddenly take to the airwaves didn't materialize. Mention "bilingualism" -- many Russophones take that to mean that they can return to monolingualism. Sign the Border Agreement without reference to 1920? Get attacked by the Kremlin for those glaring, massive human rights violations that very afternoon. Allow bilingual signs? The Latvian signs start to disappear. I've not seen one shred of evidence that "reaching out" to "the Russophone community" has a salutary effect -- and I suspect that it won't have one unless we compromise on things we can't compromise on, passing out passports and declaring our countries officially bilingual... and even then, I don't think we'd see eye to eye, especially if, or I should say as, Russia continues its descent into its familiar hell.

Giustino ütles ...

Some practical things -- you suggest enhancing educational opportunities in Russia. The students would then return to Estonia having learned what sort of historiography, for example?

No, most would stay there, just as a good chunk of my classmates who studied in Boston stayed in Boston. They get jobs and apartments and girlfriends and ... why move back?

Mention "bilingualism" -- many Russophones take that to mean that they can return to monolingualism.

Return to? I thought we were still dealing with that. Some of the Russian-speakers in the stores here in Tartu usually don't switch when they ask questions. It's the Estonian sellers that switch.

That's not going to change until the Estonians lose their Russian skills, which is happening on the part of the younger generation, but for the older ones appeasing Russophone monolingualism remains the status quo. It takes more than signs to change these things.

Sign the Border Agreement without reference to 1920?

Latvia made a mistake there. Legal continuity counts more than any treaty with Russia.

karLos ütles ...

i like the idea of russian tertiary education, but i do wonder if it will be enough to keep them there.

presumably these russians would have friends and family in russia, so would travel there relatively often. they see that russia, well, sucks - wages are crap, the government is getting pushy - even if they complete a degree there, would they stay there? especially if they live in a place like narva where they can comfortably exist in a russian bubble - so only extending the status quo, with no estonian language skills and a funky version of history from mother russia.

also, i wonder if encouraging them to leave is actually so wonderful an idea. shrinking demographics do economies (and governments/countries through tax regimes) no good at all, especially considering that estonians (as all europeans) seem to breed like pandas.

Giustino ütles ...

also, i wonder if encouraging them to leave is actually so wonderful an idea. shrinking demographics do economies (and governments/countries through tax regimes) no good at all, especially considering that estonians (as all europeans) seem to breed like pandas.

It's an idea for people who don't want to live in Estonia or learn Estonian, opposed to all Russian-speaking minorities.

Therefore this isn't a blanket solution. But if those kids holding the "CCCP Forever" sign went to St. Petersburg and stayed, I would not shed one tear, demographics or no demographics.

Here in Tartu I feel like there is going to be one big demographic time bomb this summer. I can't go anywhere without seeing a 7 or 8 month pregnant woman (let alone my own house or my sister in laws house!)

I mean I was at Ehitus Service the other day and I counted five 7 or 8-month pregnant women in Ehitus Service all at the same time.

July is going to be a banner month.

Pēteris Cedriņš ütles ...

Latvia made a mistake there. Legal continuity counts more than any treaty with Russia.

I agree. I have a video of the occasion at my blog and some paltry analysis. One of the signs says "we are proud of Estonia's statesmen -- we are ashamed of ours."

So it goes.

karLos ütles ...

July is going to be a banner month.

ah now i see the estonian national passtime during winter ;)

space_maze ütles ...

I think it's an ehitus-service phenomenon. A few years ago, I was in the Vantaa Ikea in Finland, in early September .. you couldn't throw a rock without hitting a pregnant woman. I did not hear of a huge population explosion in Finland later that year though. :D

Pēteris Cedriņš ütles ...

Therefore this isn't a blanket solution. But if those kids holding the "CCCP Forever" sign went to St. Petersburg and stayed, I would not shed one tear

Of course not, but I rather doubt that this is the result of most "voluntary repatriation programmes" or the more serious migration pressures in the Baltics -- do you really think the "CCCP Forever" folk represent likely candidates for study in Russian universities?

I know numerous people who've emigrated from Daugavpils, whence a large portion of the migrants to Ireland, and most of the Russophones among them were actually more likely to be the ones we need -- highly educated, multilingual people who could at least understand Latvian aspirations, if not agree with them.

Your average CCCP-loving dude just ain't that ambitious.

Native search ütles ...

if you are making fun of the saamis i am saying this: you have got to be the most IGNORANT cocksucker ive ever heard of! i am part saami and this is all bullshit. if not: nevermind.

Architectse ütles ...

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