New minister: Rural marginalization could be halted via state aid

Anneli Ott on Tuesday's edition of "Aktuaalne kaamera". Source: ERR

Rural depopulation and marginalization of people in Estonia's regions should be done in steps and with the help of state aid, incoming public administration minister Anneli Ott (Center) told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Tuesday night.

Ott said that she though the marginalization of various groups in society, including those living outside the capital and its environs, could be halted and reversed.

"I wouldn't have been in parliament if I didn't believe that," Ott, a former Võru mayor, told AK.

"This issue has been very important to me for a long time. In fact, one of the principles in my running for the Riigikogu has been that influencing those processes which are difficult to carry out on the ground is viable.

Ott said that an ever-decreasing number of teachers, doctors, postal workers and other key staff, as pointed out by Auditor-General Janar Holm, was: "Certainly a major challenge and a process which has not been recognized in sufficient depth for a long time."

Ott also noted that coming from what she had already referred to as a "far corner" of the country was a strength which she could bring to the role, presumably in comparison with her more metropolitan colleagues.

However, she said she was under no illusions about the scope for a minister alone to bring sweeping changes.

Rural depopulation could first be addressed by providing opportunities to those still living in the countryside, she added.

Ott said: "There are many wise and pleasant people in rural areas who want to contribute. I believe that if they have this opportunity, if the state is aware of that, then it can provide an opportunity to use these opportunities on the ground, and it may attract back [to the countryside] those who have made the decision to leave.

However, Ott said, this would need to be targeted at specific regions to account for their diversity, and would require state aid.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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