Leaders challenged to improve Estonian and Russian understanding

  • 2009-11-11
  • By Ella Karapetyan
TALLINN - On Nov. 6, the conference 'History and culture, united or separated' took place in the conference hall of the National Library in Tallinn, where many well-known scientists, public figures, economists, politicians and journalists took part in the discussions. The cultural-educational center Intellectus was the conference's organizer.

Intellectus center's director Rafik Grigoryan opened the conference by reminding the audience of an old American Indian parable about two kinds of wolves, one that is good, the other evil, and that both of these traits live inside each person; the trait that is 'fed'the most is the one that each person becomes. He brought up the parable as a shining example concerning history, that it could be used in both ways as a tool of war, or as a tool for cooperation between nations.
The main focus at the conference was the historic-cultural relationship between the two ethno-cultural communities in Estonia 's the Estonian and Russian populations.

The representative of the Ministry of Culture Ayr Madis Jarv in his speech expressed hope that it would be managed to establish an open and honest debate concerning the problem of the separation of the Estonian and Russian communities. He added that he sets his hopes that there will be a reasonable discussion, without any political views, of the most painful moments of history for both nations.
Jarv declared that "Cultural communications between Estonia and Russia, which are successfully developing nowadays, should be a good example for politicians."

History teacher at Tallinn Toismae Gymnasium (Tallinn's Tonismae high school) Igor Kalakauskas commented in his report about the difficulties and obstacles concerning these discussions and on debates on history. As an example, he suggested a project to create one, and only one, history book for all schools in Estonia. He added that the project of creating new common textbooks on history has already been presented to the European Union, though the idea still remains "just on paper."
The report by the representative of the Russian academic society Ilya Nikiforov continued the topic on studying history in school. In his report, Nikiforov focused on the problems concerning ethno-centrism, such as interpretations of historical events.
A considerable part of the conference was devoted to the discussion of myths and legends of modern Estonia.

According to Doctor of Economic Sciences Vladimir Vaingort, the occurrence of an inadequate impression in the mass consciousness among the representatives of both ethno-cultural communities in Estonia is connected first of all with the almost total absence of dialogue between the two groups.