Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

 

Protection of national minorities: Council of Europe monitoring body publishes report on Estonia

Strasbourg, 08 November 2011 – The Advisory Committee’s third Opinion on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities by Estonia has been made public, together with the government comments. The Opinion contains the findings of the Advisory Committee after a visit to Estonia in September 2010 and directs recommendations at the government on how to improve measures aimed at the protection of persons belonging to national minorities.

The Advisory Committee commends Estonia’s generally positive approach towards the Framework Convention’s implementation and monitoring process. The overall climate between ethnic Estonians and non-Estonians in the country has significantly improved over the years and there is a notable increase in tolerance and social cohesion, particularly among its youth. The unemployment rate among non-Estonians, however, is still disproportionately high compared with that of ethnic Estonians, and the number of stateless persons remains at around 100,000. The non-availability of free Estonian language classes to prepare for the citizenship examination is cited as an important reason for the decrease in naturalisations among the adult minority community since 2005.

The new Estonian Integration Strategy acknowledges the significance of education for promoting integration and mentions the importance of cultural diversity in the school curricula. Integration activities of schools, however, centre mainly around the promotion of Estonian language skills. Multicultural elements should be increased in the curricula and textbooks, and the ongoing transfer to Estonian as the main language of instruction in Russian-language schools should be implemented gradually, with due regard to the quality of education.

While a National Minorities Cultural Advisory Council under the Ministry of Culture constitutes a consultation mechanism for persons belonging to national minorities on questions related to culture, authorities should ensure that minority representatives are involved in and have a substantial impact on all relevant processes of decision-making affecting them.

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The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities provides for a monitoring system whereby the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, assisted by the Advisory Committee, composed of independent experts, evaluates the implementation of the convention. For more information, http://www.coe.int/minorities.