Poll illustrates Estonian and Russian attitudes toward integration (2)

MEP Yana Toom (Center/ALDE) (ERR)
3/7/2016 12:38 PM
Category: News

A new poll commissioned by MEP Yana Toom showed changing attitudes both among the country's Russian and Estonian speakers. Before the poll’s presentation in detail, Toom spoke about it on ERR’s “Vikerhommik”.

According to the poll, 96% of non-Estonians in the country considered the ability to speak Estonian necessary. Also, they didn't see a need for cultural autonomy of any particular group.

The poll also brought out that Estonians think being able to speak Russian is useful, and that there is a lot of interest in Russian culture.

Russians see their future in Estonia

Toom said that with this poll she wanted to send a very clear signal to Estonians that the local Russian community wanted to build their lives here in Estonia, and that they didn't see Russia play any particular role in it.

In this context, Toom pointed out that supporting local Russian culture was important as well.

On the other hand, the poll also showed that Russian speakers in Estonia were somewhat estranged from society and the state. A lot of them said they concentrated on their own lives, and didn’t see much need to deal with broader social issues.

Toom said that the local Russians saw themselves as Estonian Russians or Russian speakers, and as citizens of Estonia. What counted for the local Russians was the passport, while Estonians made it all more a matter of ethnic background.

What Toom said worried her was that one of the topics both Estonians and Russians agreed on was their rejection of migrants and refugees.

In 2015, of the country’s population 69.13% were Estonian, 25.14% were Russian, 1.71% were Ukrainian, 0.93% Belorussian, and 3.09% of various other nationalities.

Following Estonia’s re-independence in 1991 not all residents of the country automatically became citizens. The topics of citizenship, national languages, and the language of instruction in schools have been the subject of many debates since.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, 32% of residents were left without citizenship and became holders of the so-called Alien’s Passport. This number has since shrunk to 6.1%, with plenty of the formerly stateless successfully applying for Estonian citizenship.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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