Ministry outlines refugee integration policy principles ({{commentsTotal}})

Estonia reserves the right to prohibit some cultural practices, like forced marriages and circumcision, in its territory, Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu said after Monday's roundtable.

Participants at the Justice Ministry's roundtable agreed on the rules and main principles, which will form the basis of the government's strategy for integrating the soon-to-arrive Mediterranean refugees into Estonian society.

"Estonia has the right to set rules the way we hold right as a society," Reinsalu said, adding that these rules touch upon issues like education, segregation and the resulting extremism and severe intolerance. "This also concerns the question of extreme cultural traditions, which we will say is prohibited in Estonia and punishable by law," he explained.

Minister of Social Protection Margus Tsahkna added that to work out a successful integration strategy, Estonia must learn from the mistakes of its neighbors.

It was agreed that language tuition must be improved to make sure that new arrivals actually master Estonian.

"Adults and children will get free language tuition on the expense of the state," he said, adding that this tuition should be made compulsory for two years.

The roundtable was also attended by the head imam of the Estonian Muslim community, Ildar Muhamedšin, who was supportive of the ideas but pointed out that Estonia lacks an official mosque.

"If the Estonian Islamic community cannot build its own mosque, other prayer houses may emerge," he said. "God save us if this happens! We won't know who paid for them and what they teach," he said.

Editor: M. Oll

Siim Kallas.

Interview: Siim Kallas on ambitions, Estonian politics, and EU presidency

Following the local elections in October this year, Reform Party founder, former prime minister, EU commissioner, and presidential candidate Siim Kallas took on the job of municipal mayor of Viimsi, a community on the outskirts of Tallinn. In his interview with ERR's Toomas Sildam, Kallas talks about local government, his party, the EU presidency, and perspectives in Estonian politics.

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