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Välisminister Urmas Paeti avasõnad Bolzano/Bozeni soovitusi tutvustaval seminaril Tallinnas (inglise keeles)

8. Juuni 2009 - 0:00

The OSCE HCNM Recommendations on National Minorities in Inter-State Relations and their Implementation in the Baltic Sea region
Roundtable, 8 June 2009 in Tallinn


Honourable Commissioner, Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my honour and privilege to co-host today’s expert roundtable on the Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations on National Minorities here in Tallinn. Hopefully the meeting will prove to be as fruitful as it was in Ljubljana in March.

One year ago the High Commissioner presented the Recommendations in the beautiful city of Bolzano/Bozen, in Italy. As we all know the Bolzano/Bozen has a symbolic nature as it serves as an example how a community can contribute to prosperity and friendly inter-state relations.

Estonia highly appreciates and supports the valuable work done by The High Commissioner and his Team for drafting the Recommendations which have been very timely. Not only because it increases the clarity of international law, but also for reflecting the core idea of the common responsibility of all OSCE member states.

The issue of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities remains a challenge for every culturally and ethnically diverse society. Therefore my hope is that the spirit of shared responsibility encompassed by the Recommendations will be equally welcomed in all OSCE member states, as the implementation of these recommendations depends on the understanding and commitment of each and every country.

Against this background, the importance of the Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations becomes even more evident. As the High Commissioner has stated, sometimes cultural ties take on political significance and States take unilateral measures to defend, protect or support what they describe as “their kin” abroad. However it is clear from the Recommendations that the main responsibility to protect persons belonging to national minorities lies on the state of residence. Although States may have a legitimate interest in the well-being of persons belonging to national minorities they are linked with, the international law does not entitle to exercise jurisdiction over these persons on the territory of another State. The influence and the interests of the “kin-State” can and should be pursued in cooperation with the State of residence, as well as in the multilateral arena, with the spirit of common responsibility in mind.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Today, Estonia is a home for people from about 150 nationalities, who make up about 30% of the population of 1.3 million. The Government has accepted the challenge of integrating all persons living in Estonia irrespective of their nationality, language or belief. Our past experience has taught us that the integration exercise isn’t always easy. However I am more than convinced that the Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations will support us in this endeavour.

Estonia is also cooperating with the states of residence in order to support Estonian communities abroad and help sustain Estonian language and culture. There are about 170 000 Estonians, altogether 16% of our nation, living abroad, mostly in Finland, Russia, Sweden but also in America and Australia. To give you few examples of our good bilateral co-operation, just a week ago an Estonian School was opened in London for the first time, and in January a cultural agreement was signed by Estonian and Russian ministers of culture. In co-operation with the Finnish authorities the opportunities for receiving Estonian-language basic education in Finland have lately grown greater.

It is our aim to share these experiences with all of you in today’s meeting and of course gather valuable thoughts in return. Let me conclude by wishing everybody a fruitful and thoughtful discussion!

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