Today, Friday 15 November, marks the start of the two-day international integration conference ‘My Home, Our Home: What Unites Us in a Multicultural Community’ in Tallinn. The Integration Foundation has invited renowned experts, policy-shapers, researchers and visionaries to present new ideas for Estonia’s integration policy.
The conference will be opened by Minister of Culture Indrek Saar.
“Estonia’s part of an open Europe,” Saar said. “In an era of migration and in a global society with no borders, movement of people is only growing. In order to guarantee the shared interests of people and communities and the future of the Estonian state and its culture in such conditions, it’s important that we contribute to communicating with and understanding one another, getting people involved and finding a common language in Estonia and internationally. Estonia’s greatest asset is its people – those who feel safe and content living here and for whom a whole range of opportunities are ensured for making something of themselves and being part of social and cultural life. Happy, upstanding members of society create in turn a caring home and a caring country. That’s the target we need to unwaveringly be aiming for.”
The keynote speaker at the conference will be David Laitin, a professor of political science at Stanford University in the United States, who heads up the Immigration Policy Lab. In his presentation he will be outlining the solutions best suited for achieving integration in Estonia. This will not be Professor Laitin’s first visit to the country: during the 1990s he studied the self-identification of the local Russian-speaking population in the post-Soviet era. He has done the same in Latvia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
Also speaking at the conference will be Keith Banting, the head of public policy studies and professor of political science at Queen’s University in Canada, who was one of the developers of the Multiculturalism Policy Index. He considers the situation in Estonia rather unique and different from that in his own country. “That’s why integration in Estonia is so interesting to me,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to speaking at the conference.”
The second day of the conference will feature a fiery debate entitled ‘The Influence of Media Blitzes on Integration and How to Cope with It’. It will involve representatives of all Estonian political parties and be moderated by television journalist Urmas Vaino.
The conference is being held at the Radisson Blu Sky Hotel (Rävala pst 3). The programme can be found online at www.integrationconference.ee
You can follow the conference live in Estonian via the Postimees portal www.postimees.ee, in Russian via rus.postimees.ee and in English on the conference website at www.integrationconference.ee. Delfi will be live-blogging the event at www.delfi.ee
Journalists please note: If you wish to interview anyone at the conference, please contact Ministry of Culture communications adviser Kai-Ines Nelson at [email protected] or on +372 5568 9644.