A Plan for the Future? the Estonian State Integration Programme on National Minorities 2000-2007

By Brosig, Malte | Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe : JEMIE, July 1, 2008 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

A Plan for the Future? the Estonian State Integration Programme on National Minorities 2000-2007

Brosig, Malte, Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe : JEMIE

Events surrounding the replacement of a Soviet bronze statue in spring 2007 in Tallinn and subsequent international tensions between the EU and Russia marked a low point in inter-ethnic relations between Russian-speakers in Estonia and ethnic Estonians in recent years. This raises the question of how successful current integration efforts directed towards Russian-speakers have actually been. The paper analyses the development of the Estonian State Integration Programme (SIP) 2000-2007 from its earliest moments in the 1990s to its current form. It is argued that although its theoretical basis is well grounded, the programme does not account for minority integration needs systematically. Instead it follows a unidirectional action-plan, targeting Russian-speakers without a prior needs-assessment at grass-root level and insufficient minority participation during the drafting and implementation period. Furthermore, the paper highlights the influence the legal-restorationist concept maintains on the implementation of the SIP which partly has the effect of re-enforcing inter-ethnic alienation.


In April 2007 a Red Army bronze soldier statue in Tallinn's city centre was removed and placed in a cemetery outside to town centre. Two nights of street riots by the Russian-speaking youth in Tallinn followed. The bronze soldier controversy had already existed for some years before its relocation. But the mobilisation of the Russian-speaking community against its removal and the subsequent street battles with police forces were unseen in the recent history of the country and echo events in 1993 when the so-called Alien Crisis hit the country and ethnic tension was tangible. Without a doubt, significant changes have taken place in Estonia between the years 1993 and 2007. The country has made remarkable progress in the transition from foreign occupation to democratisation, economic prosperity and membership of NATO and of the EU. However, the social and ethnic differences between Estonians and the Russian-speaking minority remain unsettled and a potential source for social unrest as events concerning the bronze soldier crisis have shown. Under these circumstances the reactions are all the more surprising as Estonia has implemented a minority integration programme since the year 2000 and international financial support for minority integration has been considerable. Consequently, this paper evaluates the impact of the Estonian State Integration Programme (2000-2007) on minority integration in the country, and asks what part the SIP has played in reducing ethnic divides and social inequalities.

Minority Integration in Estonia: Early Attempts

In the early 1990s Estonians expected Russian-speakers to leave the country, and state planning on minority issues promoted the remigration of Russophones. At that time minority integration was not an official policy goal and thus no systematic integration policy existed. This situation lasted for a number of years until the end of the last decade at which point Estonia started to develop a central minority integration programme. Main parts of Estonia's minority integration programme have been developed within the country by its academic elite. International involvement was less direct and essentially entailed stressing the need to develop such a strategy. Nonetheless, without EU conditionality and external funding the setting up of minority integration programmes would have been delayed, and would have been much less effectual. From 1996 onwards the Council of Europe (COE) started a programmatic cooperation with Estonian officials with the aim of fostering Estonian integration efforts1 but Russian-speakers were rarely involved during the drafting process.

In cooperation with the UNDP Estonia developed its first integration programme "Integrating non-Estonians into Estonian Society: Setting the Course" in 1997 under the guidance of Rein Taagepera2. However, the programme did not develop directly applicable project proposals but sketched out general objectives and problems.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

A Plan for the Future? the Estonian State Integration Programme on National Minorities 2000-2007


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?