TALLINN - At a sitting of the Estonian parliament on Tuesday the development plan for a coherent Estonia for the 2021-2030 period was discussed; the objective of the plan is for Estonia to become a more coherent and inclusive society in the course of the coming decade.
Minister of Culture Anneli Ott said that while the integration of the society has been consistent -- there is more and more understanding in the society and the state identity of people of different ethnicities is strong -- language-based segregation and the resulting inequality still remain grave, however. Inequality and a lack of a spirit of oneness can result in a polarized society and increase the likelihood of conflicts of values emerging between people with different language and cultural backgrounds.
The minister said that according to the adaptation and integration policy, the plan is to support local governments, which will have the opportunity and capability to contribute more to integration. Ott underscored that a joint comprehensive communication space needs to be created, and that the digital turnaround is likewise unavoidable. Greater effort must also be made to foster contacts that support a feeling of belonging and opportunities must be ensured for people to improve their Estonian language skills.
"That way, there will be more likelihood for us to achieve a more coherent and stable society," Ott said. "This is the Estonia where people with different language and cultural backgrounds are carriers of the Estonian identity, they actively take part in the society, share democratic values and cultural, information and communication spaces. In this Estonia, opportunities for successful and independent coping and wellbeing have been created for them."
Civil society is a key issue, according to the minister of culture, who added that local communities are neither sufficiently included nor empowered by local governments on an systematic and daily basis. Thus, the development plan recommends to implement a program of co-creation geared at local governments and communities.
The minister said that one of the most important tasks for the coming decade is the promotion and preservation of the Estonian identity abroad. She said that Estonians residing abroad are a part of coherent Estonian society, regardless of their location, and to prevent these people losing their contact with Estonia, communication with the Estonian diaspora and their systematic inclusion must continue.
Notable steps should be taken to facilitate Estonians' return to their home country, Ott said, adding that the plans in this regard include the creation of services supporting the return of Estonian people and the inclusion of local governments to improve their capability to support the people returning.
The minister pointed out the digital turnaround as one of the key topics in the development plan. She said that the software used in the population register has become obsolete and no longer enables the creation and development of modern services. The current data collection procedures do not ensure the data quality expected by users, either, she added.
The minister noted that the aim of the development plan is to keep up with technological development, take into consideration people's changing needs and habits and make administration easier for everyone. Ott pointed out event-based services as the most tangible change for citizens. Said services enable to carry out life event related procedures, such as those pertaining to marriage or the birth of a child, between the state and people through one-off episodes of communication and more or less automatically.