Amnesty International report on Estonia

roland breton breton-roland at
Mon Dec 11 11:30:27 UTC 2006

The situation of the Russian minority in Estonia will certainly not  
afflict a Breton who knoes that the Breton language has no official  
status in France and that the Breton nation is not allowed to be a  
people or a minority, because inside France the common thought  
teaches that there are are only French or foreign individuals.
I would be pleased to read any Amnesty International report about the  
non-existence of any minority in France.


Roland J.-L.Breton

60 Les Figueras F - 13770 Venelles (France)
tel. :  00 (33) 4 42 54 07 34
<breton-roland at>

Le 8 déc. 06 à 14:42, Harold F. Schiffman a écrit :

> The Amnesty Report
> So the new report about Estonia's minority policies by Amnesty
> International is out and it is meaty. The document, entitled Estonia
> Linguistic minorities in Estonia: Discrimination must end at first  
> glance
> appears like an indictment of current minority policies. But if you
> actually go through and read Amnesty's Report, you will see that  
> Amnesty,
> as a whole, agrees with Estonia's integration policies, but  
> believes that
> they should be better funded, and that economic barriers for
> Russian-speakers in private business should be removed in areas where
> Russian-speakers make up an overwhelming majority. For example,  
> Amnesty
> makes it clear that it supports the scheduled school reforms, but it
> points out areas where the Estonian government should focus to end
> discrimination, as the NGO deems it. For example, Amnesty recommends:
> The Estonian authorities to monitor levels of drop-out rates in  
> secondary
> schools where Russian is replaced by Estonian as the language of  
> teaching;
> to provide more support for teachers who will be required to replace
> Russian with Estonian as their language of teaching; to provide  
> additional
> and adequate resources (including necessary psychological and learning
> supports) for all students who are required to replace Russian with
> Estonian as their learning language to successfully manage this
> transition.
> Amnesty also takes a hard look at Ida-Virumaa:
> In many parts of Estonia, notably the north-eastern region of Ida- 
> Virumaa,
> Estonian is not spoken by the majority of those residing in the  
> region.
> This means that Estonian language skills are de facto not necessarily
> needed in all professions. The result is that although many persons
> belonging to the Russian-speaking linguistic minority would be able to
> carry out several functions in the labour market without endangering
> public safety or order, they find themselves unemployed with no or  
> limited
> realistic opportunities to gain legal employment in the formal  
> sector as
> they do not have the appropriate Estonian language certificate. I  
> advise
> anyone who is interested to read this report. My first reaction is  
> "easier
> said than done" but when you have Amnesty International essentially
> agreeing with Estonia's integration policies - agreeing with its  
> unitary
> language policy in the public sphere, I can't say there is much to
> complain about. Can Estonia's integration policies be steamlined or  
> made
> more effective? Of course they can.
> I think Estonians are still very frightened by the Russian  
> language. They
> feel as if there is a seven-ton linguistic elephant hovering over  
> their
> small land at all times. But the reality is that *physically* most of
> Estonia is populated by Estonians that speak the Estonian language.  
> And it
> takes two and a half hours by bus to get to the overwhelmingly
> Russian-speaking portion of Estonia in Narva and Sillame. There are
> neighborhoods in Tallinn where people only speak Russian - but  
> there are
> neighborhoods in New York and London also where people only speak  
> Russian
> too. In some ways you could consider these minorities - the Narva  
> minority
> versus the Tallinn minority - to be in very different situations. The
> Tallinners are undergoing a pretty stereotypical "immigrant  
> experience."
> Like Italians in New York's Little Italy of the 1900s, they live in
> communal neighborhoods, preserving their culture, but using the  
> language
> of the majority - in that case English, in this case Estonian - to
> interact in the private and public spheres. In Narva, you have much  
> more
> of a "national minority" situation. This is where you have an  
> ethnically
> different community residing at some distance from the national ethnic
> majority. The Russian Estonians of Narva, unlike those of Tallinn,
> therefore find themselves not unlike the Swedes of the Aaland  
> Islands, or
> the Sami of Finnmark, or the Bretons of France (bear with my  
> comparisons
> here, for my sake). They are more of a national minority or cultural
> isolate than an immigrant community.
> Now, I've heard some people tell me that Russian is a "stronger"  
> language.
> That if it isn't kept in check it will overtake Estonian - turning  
> Estonia
> into the next Ingria or Karelia - Finnic lands that have been  
> colonized by
> Slavs. This is a deep-seated, territorial fear. I respect it. Yet even
> when 25 percent of the residents of Estonia speak Russian as their  
> native
> tongue, the language somehow hasn't caught on. In fact it's the  
> Russian
> teenagers in Tallinn that correct MY bad Estonian when I attempt to  
> order
> something or pay for tickets. And the younger generation of ethnic
> Estonians - those younger than 25, even in Tallinn, barely speak  
> Russian
> at all.
> Amnesty International is an NGO. It does not know all and does not  
> command
> the moral respect of a God. However, they have invested time into
> preparing this report, and I am not afraid to reconsider some of the
> questions that exist regarding Estonia's minority policies.
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