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The Riigikogu passed with 78 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Tourism Act (677 SE), initiated by the Government, which specifies and updates the regulation relating to the activity of travel undertakings. The definition of package as well as the obligations of travel undertakings relating to the security are specified.
 
On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the matter of significant national importance “Implementation of the Estonian civil society development concept and development of civil society” was deliberated today.Minister of Regional Affairs Siim Valmar Kiisler, Executive Director of the Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations Urmo Kübar and Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Väino Linde made reports at the deliberation.
 
The discussion touched on the implementation of the Estonian civil society development concept and the work of the joint committee of the Government and representatives of citizens’ associations. Focus was also placed on involvement of citizens’ associations by the state, the capacity of the associations, support structures and the financing thereof, as well as citizens’ education and the activities of volunteers.
 
Kiisler noted that the joint committee is the main assembly where representatives of public authority and citizens’ associations agree on common goals and the ways of achieving them. “It seems to me that the role of the joint committee between the executive and the supervisory institution has become a little bit blurred today. As a result of that, neither the state nor associations know very exactly what to expect of it. The state is represented at a high level, even at the level of chancellors, but since, more often than not, concreteness has been lacking, we cannot take advantage of that competence and authority,” admitted the Minister of Regional Affairs. In his opinion, the civil society development plan that is being prepared will have to resolve this deficiency, among other things, by becoming a concrete work plan for all parties. The solution lies in setting more specific goals with a time framework. There would be a designated responsible person and relevant funds allocated for every activity. Representatives of public authority and associations would write down in black and white the priorities of a year together. “So both parties should be interested in setting as realistic goals as possible and observing the fulfilment thereof,” noted Kiisler.
 
Kübar said that, besides well-formulated goals of the Estonian civil society development concept, implementers are also needed for them. Implementation has so far been the most chaotic thing with the development concept. It has been depending on how funds have been found for something. “Therefore we see the same goals repeating from year to year and we can never say that these things have been done,” admitted Kübar. In his opinion, in drafting the new development plan, only such things will have to be written down very clearly for which persons responsible for realisation have been designated. At the same time, sufficient resources will have to be provided for that.
 
Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Väino Linde said that, in the course of preparation of that day’s discussion, a joint meeting of three committees – the Constitutional Committee, the Social Affairs Committee and the Cultural Affairs Committee – together with representatives of the relevant organisations had taken place on 9 March.
 
Linde recalled that it had been on 12 December 2002 that the Riigikogu had passed the Estonian civil society development concept and approved the principles set out therein. “One of the basic ideas and principles of this document is that, for preservation and development of the democratic state order, public authority needs to hear its citizens and to engage in such joint cooperation with as many of them as possible,” stressed Linde. He noted that, in the case of the development of civil society, there certainly cannot be and indeed there are no universal solutions and answers. The value of civil society lies in that it is multi-faceted. It is the duty of the legislator to take account of all that. In Linde’s words, it was found at the joint meeting of the committees that promotion of civil society will certainly need more courage and trust, less bureaucracy and more experimentation also in the future. Linde noted that the civil society development concept says quite unambiguously that, in decision-making, public authority has to take into account the different interests, values and goals of many members of the society and their associations and give a serious consideration to them even if the carriers thereof constitute a numerical minority.
 
Eiki Nestor, Jaanus Marrandi, Urmas Reinsalu, Toomas Trapido, Evelyn Sepp and Silver Meikar took the floor in negotiations.
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
 
 
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