The Ministry of Culture together with the Integration Foundation (Integratsiooni Sihtasutus) is holding a two-day integration conference. Events from day two, Friday, are being live-linked by ERR News.
Titled "From Security to Solidarity: Challenges of Integration in the Times of Crisis," the event can be viewed live in English by clicking the video player below.
Conference organizers say that, against the backdrop of global challenges, ranging from the Covid pandemic to the war in Ukraine, lies the urgent need for holistic rethinking of the notions of security and solidarity.
The conference thus focuses on an in-depth exploration of integration-themed topics, providing a platform for discussions and best practices exchange, drawing from narratives both within and outside of Europe.
Conference speakers will be discussing matters such as possible solutions to integration issues and interpretations of past lessons, trauma caused by the war in Ukraine and other challenges faced by displaced persons, along with security issues relating to war refugees and asylum seekers, and strengthening the foundations for a peaceful coexistence.
The conference culminates in a debate between senior representatives of all six of political parties represented at the Riigikogu, Estonia's parliament.
(Two discussions, Panel 1: Challenges of Forced Migration: Social and Economic Aspects and Panel 2: Integration of War Refugees: Scientific Approach vs Practice, took place on Thursday, November 16).
The remaining itinerary of the two-day conference is as follows (all times local Estonian time, click on the video player above to view):
Day Two: Friday, November 17
10.00 a.m.-12.00 p.m.: Panel 3 – Social Cohesion and State Security: Where Is the Line?
The panel addresses the need to rethink the balance between state security and social cohesion, specifically in the context of Russian-speaking diasporas, asylum seekers, and immigrants.
It examines how these groups are often viewed through the "lens of risk," which raises the perceived level of threat among the majority and may influence political decisions. The conversation will explore how to delineate the line between security and integration, striving for a harmonious coexistence that doesn't compromise state security.
Speakers: Professor Vello Pettai, Director, European Centre for Minority Issues, Germany; Ercan Küçükarslan; Project Manager, Mamak District Directorate of National Education; Alexander Wolffhardt Deputy Director, Migration Policy Group; Karolis Žibas; Integration Officer, UNHCR Representation for the Nordic and Baltic Countries, Sweden
Moderator: Oksana Belova-Dalton, Research Fellow in International Relations, University of Tartu.
12.00 p.m.-1 p.m.: Break
1 p.m.-2.30 p.m.: Panel 4 – Best Integration Practices for the European Union and beyond
This panel dives into the best integration practices within the EU and beyond. As we grapple with the challenges of global events such as the pandemic and geopolitical crises, it is, the foundation says, essential to evaluate the practices that sustain and strengthen our interconnected world. With insights from representatives of the international best practices network, this discussion will touch upon the role of education and delve into broader aspects of integration.
This includes strategies that offer "equal opportunities for both local ethnic minorities and new immigrants" and ensure the preservation of community identity. This panel aims to discern solutions that can be universally applied, fostering resilience, unity, and harmony in our societies amidst various crises."
Speakers: Raivo Vetik, Professor of Comparative Politics, Tallinn University; Olga Gulina, Senior Researcher, Benefit Research & Consulting GmbH (previously Institute on Migration Policy), Germany; Maurice Crul, Professor of Sociology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands
Moderator: Kristjan Kaldur: Program manager at the Institute of Baltic Studies, Estonia,
3 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.: Debate between leading Estonian politicians – "Estonia's Integration Capacity During Crises."
The debate will address questions based on the conference's four discussion themes: Problems of forced migration: Social and Economic Aspects; War Refugee Integration: Academic Approach vs. Practice; Best Integration Practices for the European Union and beyond; Social Cohesion and State Security: Where Is the Line?
Speakers: Züleyxa Izmailova (Eesti 200); Jaak Valge (EKRE); Kristjan Järvan (Isamaa); Vadim Belobrovtsev (Center); Katrin Kuusemäe (Reform) and Eduard Odinets (SDE).
The annual Integration Foundation conference is being held at the Mustpeade Maja in Tallinn's Old Town, and is organized by the Integration Foundation in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture.
Editor's Note: This piece was updated after day one.
Editor: Andrew Whyte