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Through associations, members of the Riigikogu can draw attention to specific issues, support or protect the interests of a narrower field. For example, the Riigikogu has associations like the Support Group to Teach Estonian as a Foreign Language and the Estonian Tourism and Local Food Support Group.

How are associations created?

Individual members and parliamentary groups of the Riigikogu can form associations on a voluntary basis and, in principle, without restrictions. The chairman of an association submits a notice to the Board of the Riigikogu which sets out the name of the association, the objectives of its activities and the names of the members and parliamentary groups of the Riigikogu who belong to the association. The Board informs other members of the Riigikogu of the formation of the association. The association will decide how to organise its activities at its own discretion. The working period of associations is four years, i.e. the duration of the term of the Riigikogu.

What is the basis for the activities of associations?

Associations are formed for different reasons. There have been friendship and support groups during several terms of the Riigikogu, aiming to develop the following fields:

  • Parliamentary international communication, for example Support Group for Democracy and Citizens’ Rights and Freedoms in Byelorussia
  • Regional interests, for example the Association of Islands, Setomaa Support Group
  • Specialist interests, for example the Association of Doctors
  • Interests related to religion, for example the Orthodox Association
  • Interests related to a specific organisation or project, for example the National
  • Heritage Association, the NATO Support Group, the Estonian Nuclear Plant Support Group
  • Gender-related interests, for example the Riigikogu Women’s Union
  • Other interests, for example the Estonian Football Support Group

Ülemsootska Annela Laaneots (Ülemsootska is the leader of the Seto community who is elected for one year). Vice-President of the Riigikogu Laine Randjärv addressed the Setos as Obinitsa became the Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture in 2015.