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Hussar sees switch to Estonian-language teaching as key challenge for New Year

Lauri Hussar.
Lauri Hussar. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Riigikogu Speaker Lauri Hussar (SDE) said that one of the key challenges in the new year will be the transition to Estonian as the sole language of instruction in schools. Hussar would also like to see a plan for the Estonian economy.

In his New Year address, which was broadcast on ETV, Hussar said that the greatest hope for last year had sadly not come to pass – the war between Ukraine and Russia did not end. "We can only hope that the brand-new year will bring peace in the shape of Ukraine's victory, or at least under the conditions worded by President Zelenskyy. Until this has happened, we will be unable to shake off the shadow of war that walks beside us," Hussar said.

The Riigikogu Speaker sees Estonia as a country of realists who put their money where their mouth is when it comes to security policy. Estonia is buying weapons and ammunition because the only way to prevent a war is to prepare for it. "Our neighborhood is a historical inevitability and although ethnicity and culture have no price tags, national defense must be paid for according to the invoices submitted to the society," he said, expressing his conviction that that Estonia will succeed as it is stronger today than ever before thanks to its combined effort and the contribution of its allies.

Hussar sees one of the greatest challenges of the new year as linked to the objective set out in the preamble of the Estonian Constitution to preserve the country's language and culture. "The Estonians are a modern nation and finally we are able to do something that every self-respecting European nation has done long ago – the education system will transfer wholesale to the official language. The actual beginning of the reform of the language of instruction will be one of the key steps of this year. This step will take years and all the results will only appear decades from now," he said.

The Riigikogu Speaker added that the move to ensure all schools use Estonian as the language of instruction will help dispel the illusion that people who physically live side by side lived, culturally inhabit different planets. He sees it as a major misconception over the last decades in Estonia. "Similarly, politics in Estonia have artificially kept up the perception that there are several different 'Estonias,' which rotate on closed orbits and only rarely meet, unable to politely agree to disagree when they do. We only have one Estonia, and it is up to every one of us to treasure it," he said.

Hussar referred to the twentieth anniversary of Estonia becoming a member of the European Union, which will be marked this spring, and also to the elections to the European Parliament, where debate on the environment and energy is set to be a key topic. "I hope that this will be based on scientific facts, will adequately assess the state of our ever more rapidly warming planet, and propose solutions for the future," he said.

Hussar would also like to see the new year bring a plan for the Estonian economy, which would give businesses the freedom and opportunity to succeed. "The Estonian economy is as strong as our businesses, as attractive as our business environment, and as quick as our progress through innovation. In the end, we all depend on the well-being of the Estonian economy," he said.

The full text of Lauri Hussar's New Year speech can be found here (link to pdf).

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Editor: Michael Cole

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