Slimmed-down Arvamusfestival starts Friday

Attendees at last year's Arvamusfestival.
Attendees at last year's Arvamusfestival. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

This year's Arvamusfestival ("Opinions Festival") takes place on Friday and Saturday in its traditional venue of the central Estonian town of Paide. Due to coronavirus restrictions, this year's event can host far fewer attendees than would normally be expected, but many panel discussions and other events will be relayed online, including by ERR.

Current coronavirus restrictions limit outdoor public events like Arvamusfestival to 2,000 spectators. Last year's event attracted over 9,000 people.

The vast majority of panel discussions will be in Estonian, though three discussions are scheduled to be held in English on Friday, August 14, including one focusing on the PISA tests and schools in Estonia and Finland, starting at 12.00 (see festival timetable (in Estonian) here).

President Kersti Kaljulaid headlines the festival's second day, joined by Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Villu Kõve on Saturday evening. The three will talk about freedoms and to what extent these have, and have not, been realized in Estonia in the past 30 years.

A keynote panel earlier on Saturday features most of Estonia's seven MEPs, who will discuss "restarting" the EU in the wake of the coronavirus on Saturday from 10.00 a.m.

Moderated by ERR's Johannes Tralla and organized by the European Parliament office in Estonia, MEPs Riho Terras (Isamaa), Marina Kaljurand (SDE), Sven Mikser (SDE), Andrus Ansip (Reform), Urmas Paet (Isamaa) and Jaak Madison (EKRE) will look at the shared €750-million loan aimed at combating the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and how these funds should be both distributed and repaid.

The EU's seven-year budgetary period, which begins next year, as well as planned increasing fiscal integration across the union, which the European Parliament supports, but the Estonian government does not, will also be on the table.

ERR is livestreaming its own Arvamusfestival events both on the Estonian-language site and on ERR radio channels, as follows (all discussions in Estonian):

Friday, August 14

  • 11.05 a.m.: Raadio 2's "Olukorrast riigis" politics show broadcasts from Paide.
  • 2.00 p.m.: "A drop in the ocean. Estonian music on major platforms" discusses challenges facing Estonian musicians in the light of digital platforms such as Youtube and Spotify.
  • 8.00 p.m.: Party leader debates. Leaders of two of the coalition parties (Isamaa and EKRE) join those from both opposition parties (Reform and SDE), plus two non-parliamentary parties (Estonia 200 and the Estonian Greens). Moderated by Taavi Eilat, Kaja Kallas (Reform), Martin Helme (EKRE), Helir-Valdor Seeder (Isamaa), Indrek Saar (SDE), Kristina Kallas (Estonia 200) and Züleyxa Izmailova (Greens) are appearing.
  • 9.30 p.m.: Actor Henrik Kalmet looks back at the day's events.

Saturday, August 15

  • 10.00 a.m.: Restarting the EU (see above). Broadcast by Vikerraadio.
  • 11.00 a.m.: Vikerraadio politics and society show "Rahva teenrid" broadcasts from Paide.
  • 5.05 p.m.: Vikerraadio broadcasts a recorded discussion from earlier in the day: "Is science searching for the truth?".
  • 8.00 p.m.: "Freedoms" discussion with President Kersti Kaljulaid, Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise and Chief Justice Villu Kõve.

This year's event had originally been scheduled for the previous weekend, August 7-9.

The Arvamusfestival website (in Estonian) is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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