In his opening speech at the fall 2020 session of the Saeima in Riga on Thursday, Latvian President Egils Levits highlighted Estonia's population and family policy and the establishment of the post of minister of population, spokespeople for the Estonian Ministry of the Interior said.
Levits emphasized the importance of population and family policy as a guarantor of the country's sustainability. The Latvian head of state said that Latvia's administrative reform is not enough to ensure the country's sustainability, but it must be supported by a targeted population and family policy, the spokespeople for the Estonian ministry said.
According to Levits, although there are different agencies dealing with children's and families' issues, population policy is not yet considered as a comprehensive, priority policy area that needs adequate funding. The president also pointed out that population policy is a horizontal policy, but there is currently no effective cross-sectoral management. At the same time, he cited Estonia as an example, where the position of the minister of population has been created to lead this field, and added that Latvia must also find a suitable institutional solution. However, according to the president, the biggest problem is the lack of political leadership that would make population policy the first priority, not the fifth or tenth.
Spokespeople for the Estonian Ministry of Interior said that Levits also acknowledged the success of Estonia's population and family policy, as a result of which Estonia's projected population will remain close to the current 1.3 million by 2050, while Latvia's population shows a significant declining trend. By 2050, Latvia's population is projected to decline to 1.4 million instead of the current 1.9 million.
Minister of Population Riina Solman thanked Levits for remembering and marking out Estonia. "This recognition comes at a significant moment, because in recent months we have intensified Baltic cooperation on the issues withing the area of administration of the minister of population. I thank President Egils Levits for his recognition and I am sincerely pleased about that. I am ready to continue to cooperate fully and share experiences with my Latvian colleagues. It is important for the entire Baltic region that our countries are strong and sustainable," the minister said.
Solman added that once the Population and Cohesive Society Development Plan 2021-2030 is completed in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, it will be possible to contribute even more to Estonia's development through that.
Solman acknowledged that the size of the population does not in itself guarantee the success of the country. "At the same time, it is natural that in order to preserve Estonia and Estonianness, we need a people who will pass on our language and culture. Therefore, it is important that Estonia is a family-friendly country that values children. This must be done thoughtfully and systematically. Therefore, it is important to look beyond a couple of years, and such a longer view is also supported by the new development plan. This is the only way we can last," Solman said.
The proposal for the development of the Population and Cohesive Society Development Plan 2021-2030 has been submitted to the government. The development plan consists of four sub-programs -- population and family policy with population activities, adaptation and integration policy, civil society program and global Estonianness.
Editor: Helen Wright