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Today the Riigikogu deliberated “Estonian Human Development Report 2007” as a matter of significant national importance. Reports were presented by Academician Ain-Elmar Kaasik, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Estonian Cooperation Assembly, and Marju Lauristin, Professor of the University of Tartu. The opinion of the Riigikogu Constitutional Committee was delivered by the Chairman of the Committee Väino Linde.

In his report Kaasik concentrated mainly on the indicators of public health and stressed that, according to the Human Development Index, unfortunately Estonia has fallen behind. According to Kaasik, life expectancy is a significant indicator of public health. “The average life expectancy of men has risen a little and is 67.36 at the moment, for women it is 78.47, which is still around 7–9 years lower than in the stably developed European states. The difference between the average life expectancy of men and women in Estonia is very large, 11 years. Generally, the health analysts and specialists consider the difference in the range of 4–6 years acceptable. The problem is that we die too early. In the developed European states the rate of premature death, which according to statistics is at less than 65 years, forms 30% of general death rate, but in Estonia the corresponding number is 55%,” Kaasik said. The Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Estonian Cooperation Assembly was of the opinion that the spontaneous stage of Estonia’s development was over and stated that only purposeful planning of development with long-term setting of aims and realisation of these plans would take us further. “Strategy is of great importance here. The Human Development Report focuses on the future quality of life in Estonia,” Kaasik remarked.

Professor Marju Lauristin’s report contained two key issues of the problems of human development – education, first of all the relationship between education and economy, and the place of Russian-speaking population in the Estonian society. Lauristin claimed that the picture given by statistics does not correspond to the prevailing attitude of Estonia as a state of officials, traders, business managers. “The myth that we do not have enough workers, that we do not have enough people with vocational education, that everybody here is white-collar, business manager etc actually is not valid. We do not have enough agricultural workers,” said Lauristin. She explained that the industrial and blue-collar labour force structure means that this qualification becomes outdated quickly, and if we look at figures, we can see that Estonia spends tens of times less on retraining and vocational training than the developed countries.“In Estonia there is a difference of 8 times between how much the top level gets training and how much the lower levels of labour force structure get training. It is a very serious problem. We should see that the whole development of our economy is very much connected with the renewal of the quality of labour force, we should see, as the authors of the report, that the preparation of knowledge worker is one of the main aims of our education reform, and also the organisation and content of retraining should be included here,” emphasized Lauristin.

Concerning the second main issue of her report, Professor Lauristin remarked that the ethnic structure of population has changed. The rate of the citizens of Estonia among the population has risen to 84% and 50.6% of Russian-speaking population are citizens of Estonia. Lauristin: “Although the problems connected with naturalisation remain because we have more than 100 thousand non-citizens, their weight is two times lesser. It is two times less than the weight of problems connected with citizen involvement. And here we are actually approaching a normal European country.”

Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Väino Linde admitted in presenting the opinion of the Committee that according to the report, Estonia is no longer a country of simple work and simple thoughts.

The Riigikogu passed with 72 votes in favour the President of the Republic Official Benefits Act Amendment Act (276 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic. The Act amends the present organisation of the protection of the President who has resigned from office or his or her widow or widower. According to the amendment, the Minister of Internal Affairs may arrange the protection of the resigned President on the basis of the danger and security assessment prepared by a respective police authority.The same principle also applies to the widow or widower of the President. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.

For more details, see the verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian):

 

The Riigikogu Press Service

 

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