Estonia: New report reveals citizenship and minority language concerns

A new report on Estonia has highlighted concerns about the use of minority languages in the country and the access given to national citizenship.

The report published by the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the protection of national minorities notes that some 85.000 people, more than six per cent of the population cannot participate fully in the democratic life of the country because they lack citizenship.

The national minorities report also uncovers the strong legislative provisions and policies designed to protect the Estonian language and guarantee its pre-eminence in all areas of public life.

Over the past seven years, Estonian has become the main language of instruction in upper-secondary Russian-language schools. Some 60 % of the curriculum is taught in that language. According to the report, some schools have struggled to find qualified teachers able to teach in Estonian.

The Advisory Committee recommends that the Estonian authorities should continue their efforts to further reduce statelessness and should encourage access to citizenship for long-term residents.
National authorities should also ensure that minorities, in areas where they reside traditionally or in substantial numbers, have the effective possibility to use their minority language in relations with local authorities, in writing and orally.

Last week, a report from the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance revealed worries about higher unemployment in regions which are predominantly Russian-speaking and the “unsatisfactory implementation” of a new linguistic policy for upper secondary school students.

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