A row between neighbors that culminated in the murder of a young mother in Tallinn's Lasnamäe borough last year acted as a catalyst for the creation of a conciliation program for neighbors at war. The next few months will see efforts to come up with a solution.
Anton Hansen Tammsaare's "Truth and Justice" books are not the only place where neighbors spend years crossing swords, with the police plenty busy with people who fail to coexist peacefully to this day.
"The problem is universal and exists everywhere, while it might be somewhat more concentrated in residential districts," Margarita Ingel, senior law enforcement officer for the North Prefecture, said.
The police receive thousands of reports of conflicts between neighbors every year most of which lack elements of offenses. Noise is one great source of tensions, with excessive noise during the day a more recent complaint. The use of parking places is creating its fair share of bad blood.
People often resort to childish behavior, such as pouring kefir all over their neighbor's door.
"People are increasingly individualist and anonymous in cities. They do not know their neighbors, nor do they deem it necessary to greet them and are keen on seeking what they perceive to be justice.
Margarita Ingel is a volunteer conflict mediator and her experience suggests most quarrels start from trifling things.
"Minor incidents where the sides see things strictly from their personal perspective and draw conclusions are often the starting point. Such unresolved situations lead to bigger problems, with conflicts often escalating from trivial things," she said.
Tallinn's Lasnamäe district is one participant in the Naabrirahu (peace between neighbors) project as borough officials need to deal with several conflicts between neighbors every month. Lasnamäe's experience suggests apartment associations are often unaware of problems as people turn straight to city officials.
"We are only analyzing what could be the most suitable and effective service to offer people. A concrete approach for how to solve problems is being sought through a services design process," Anu Aus, Lasnamäe city district elder, said.
She added that the process is concentrating on determining who could help people and potentially prevent problems.
The principles of the neighbors' conciliation program should be in place by spring.
Editor: Marcus Turovski