HCNM statement to the 1318th Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council (excerpt), 2021

In April, I had some preliminary contact with Estonia’s authorities and a broad range of minority representatives. These meetings confirmed my office’s positive assessment of Estonia’s efforts to support the integration of its diverse society. Because Estonia has gained so much valuable experience along this path, I am planning to intensify our activities to share our Estonian partners’ experience with institutions working on inter-ethnic issues across the OSCE area. While I appreciate Estonia’s progress in several policy areas and increased government efforts in recent years to listen to minority communities, my conversations with representatives of national minorities highlighted specific concerns with the ongoing education reform, which I have asked the authorities to look into. In particular, the government’s plans and priorities for education aimed at enhancing knowledge of the State language in minority language schools and an ongoing reform of gymnasium-level education resulting in the merging of schools constitute a source of concern, especially among ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking community. While I praise the government for investing in strengthening State-language proficiency among minority communities, which will support their participation in higher education and employment, it is also important that opportunities for education in and of minority languages are preserved, especially in areas compactly inhabited by national minorities. Given the degree of ambiguity with regard to future changes, which may create fear and speculation, I advised the authorities to communicate transparently with minority communities and include them in relevant decision-making processes.

03.06.2021 HCNM.GAL/3/21/Rev.1 Link: https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/a/4/489767_0.pdf

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