Ossinovski: Stop Saying 'Us' and 'Them' (19)
The phenomenon of voting along ethnic lines in the recent election has brought the disscussion over integration of Estonia's large ethnic Russian population back into the forefront.
In an ETV interview program on Thursday night, Social Democratic MP Jevgeni Ossinovski, a proponent of integration in Estonia, said society needs to stop thinking in terms of "us" and "them."
Ossinovski said his experience as a middle-man between the two cultures and his attempts to find compromises has sometimes left him out of favor among both Estonians and Russians.
"I have been rebuffed by Estonians for being Putin's minion, and I have heard Russians say that I am not a true Russian," Ossinovski said.
"But this mission of untangling this mess is inherently complicated. Of course, it is much easier to say that this part of the electorate doesn't interest us; we are chasing the Estonian dream [...] Or on the other hand, as the Center Party has done, [warning voters] not to elect the Bronze Night coalition. It is much easier to use scare tactics than to find a point of intersection," Ossinovski said.
Despite differences, both ethnic groups have grown up in Estonia and live in a shared space, he said, and they have a common interest in achieving a better quality of life and having an honest government.
In 21st century Europe, society should strive toward equally accepting all citizens who respect the local society's foundational values, he said.
"Perhaps in the future the phrase "Russian-speaking Estonian" will no longer sound as strange as it does to many today," Ossinovski said.