There are representatives of around 190 nationalities living in Estonia. Out of the total population, 69% are Estonians by nationality, 25% are Russians, 2% Ukrainians, 1% Belarusians, 0.8% Finns and many other smaller groups.
One of the main activity areas of the Ministry of Culture is integration. The ministry is in charge of the coordination of the strategy of integration and social cohesion in Estonia “Integrating Estonia 2020” and the integration measures of the European Social Fund for the period of 2014–2020. The Ministry of Culture is the representative of the state exercises the founder’s rights of the Integration Foundation.
In 2008-2013 the ministry co-ordinated the activities of the “Estonian Integration Strategy for 2008-2013” and was the implementing body of the programme “European Fund for the Integration of Third-country Nationals for the Years 2007–2013”
The purpose of integration is to foster a situation where other nationalities living in Estonia, as well as Estonians themselves, are ensured a cohesive and tolerant society where everyone can feel comfortable and safe – to work, study, develop their culture, be a full member of the society.
In Estonia, the Ministry of Culture is responsible for the realisation of the national integration policy. Integration is a broad-based societal process involving many different areas of life. Besides the Ministry of Culture, other ministries also contribute to the pursuit of a more cohesive society, mainly the Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Interior Affairs, Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Social Affairs.
The Integration Foundation, the Foundation Innove, local municipalities and civil society organisations play a central role in the integration activities.
Integration and the European Union
One of the big challenges for the European Union is its aging population. One of the EU’s five objectives up to the year 2020 is to increase the employment rate of people aged 20-64 to 75% in all parts of the union. To retain and increase economic competitiveness while doing so, more diverse groups must be engaged in the employment market, also with regards to less integrated permanent residents and foreign workers.
The integration screening of Estonian society conducted in 2011 by scientists from the University of Tartu revealed that the unemployment rate of new immigrants and lesser integrated people was higher than that of other residents of Estonia. Commonly acknowledged issues in the area of employment are less advanced command of Estonian language, fewer social contacts, and poor or not as easily available information on the opportunities related to the job market and other areas of society.
This is why the integration of lesser integrated permanent residents of Estonia is supported by the European Social Fund and national structural aid in the total sum of EUR 10 million in the period between 2014 and 2020.
One of the source documents in the area of cultural diversity is the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Cultural Diversity, with more than 100 countries signed up to it.
In Estonia the Ministry of Culture is responsible for the implementation of the convention.
Besides Estonians, there are representatives of around 190 nationalities living in Estonia. The larger national groups are Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Finns.
Compatriots and kindred people
The Ministry of Culture supports the maintenance of cultural relations between compatriots and Finno-Ugric kindred people and Estonia, thereby helping to preserve the cultural identity of these compatriots and kindred people both in Estonia as well as beyond its borders.
The Old Believers (староверы старообрядцы in Russian) is a religious movement which separated from the Russian Orthodox church in the 17th century.
Today, it is appropriate to view the Old Believers as an ethno-confessional national group with their own history, culture and dialect. Many identify as Old Believers not so much by religious affiliation, but by birth.
The Ministry of Culture supports the heritage and national culture of the target area through the Peipsiveere cultural programme aiming to preserve the culture and identity of the historic Russian lakeshore villages and the Russian Old Believers and to raise public awareness of the topic. The Pepsiveere cultural programme is organised by the Folk Culture Centre.
Adviser of Cultural Diversity Department
Phone +372 628 2226