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On Monday, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu received an overview of the compatriots policy of Estonia. The programme of the new period is under approval at present and will reach the Government soon for discussion.

“In today’s globalised world, it is important for Estonia to pay enhanced attention to compatriots policy. If it is ensured that the Estonians living in various parts of the world retain their connections with their homeland, especially through supporting the promotion of language training and culture, then there are more chances that young people who have left return to their homeland or help make Estonia known in their countries of residence with their activity. Considering that today there is a capacity to satisfy only one tenth of all applications for financing, there is certainly space for increasing the resource,” the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Marko Mihkelson said.

In recent years, the programme has been financed with approximately 750000 euro from the state budget every year.

The overview of compatriots policy was given to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu by representatives of various ministries in whose opinion the growing number of Estonians abroad has also resulted in heightened expectations for the compatriots programme, its target group having been expanding constantly. The changes in emigration in recent years are also characterised by the fact that the Estonian population abroad is becoming younger.

This year will see the end of the second national compatriots programme which began in 2009. The first programme in 2004-2008 was mainly directed at supporting the Estonians living in the Eastern diaspora; the second programme tried to balance the support to the East and the West by also expanding to diaspora Estonians. The target groups added in the programme for 2014-2020, that is, the third programme, are representatives of more recent emigration and the descendants of the exile community and older emigration who no longer know Estonian.

Estonian language training is provided in approximately 80 different places of study outside of Estonia. At the same time, the e-learning environment www.keeleklikk.ee which functions in both Russian and English has approximately 15000 users.

To the knowledge of the Ministry of Education and Research, 3228 children are learning Estonian abroad in this academic year. A year ago, this number was 2893, and two years ago it was 1775.

The supporting of Estonians and the Estonian culture abroad is organised through the national compatriots programme led by the Ministry of Education and Research and implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Its aim is to support Estonian language training and Estonian as the language of instruction in schools abroad, and the Estonians living abroad who come to study in Estonia, to support the preservation of the culture and cultural heritage of compatriots living abroad and the solidarity of Estonians, and to promote the return of Estonians to Estonia and to enhance cooperation between the Estonians abroad and in homeland.


The Riigikogu Press Service