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Today the deliberation of the implementation of the Estonian civil society concept and the development of civil society as a matter of significant national importance was held in the Riigikogu.

Minister of Regional Affairs Jaan Õunapuu, who made the first report, stated that a realistic, profound and strategically planned process provided a basis to believe that the agreed activities would also be resultful. Minister of Regional Affairs stressed that in the years ahead the majority of attention would certainly be paid to the objectives and subjects, highlighted in the activity plan. ?Involvement, financing, the reflection of narrower, civil society-related subjects, in the information portals, legislative environment of various forms of activities of civil initiatives, tax incentives and donations, structuring of data to the register and statistics. Also civic education in a school system, free education and development of a support structure for the promotion of civil initiative activities,? Mr. Õunapuu highlighted the more essential aspects.

The Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Urmas Reinsalu gave a survey of the proposals for the development of cooperation, made at the public meeting of the representatives of the three committees of the Riigikogu ? the Constitutional Committee, Cultural Affairs Committee and Social Affairs Committee on Tuesday this week.

Mr. Reinsalu drew attention to the fact that in spring the Government would have to decide the priorities of our national development plan. This is a decision that determines in which directions the billions and billions of kroons would move in Estonia in the coming year. In this matter it is absolutely necessary to create a functioning involvement system. The Chairman of the Constitutional Committee stressed: ? It also means that in setting their priorities, the interest groups should proceed from the long-term perspectives.? Mr. Reinsalu recommended the Government to draft a separate concrete involvement project in this matter. ?I appeal to the constitutional high dignitaries, appointed by the Riigikogu – the Chancellor of Justice and the Auditor General, – as the supervisory officials of our public administration, to interpret the modern administration in such a way that in the matters of involvement they would also be able to express constantly their own observations. Involvement is also a social resource and thus it is also a material value,? Mr. Reinsalu stressed.

The Chairman of the Estonian Civil Society Development Concept Support Group Avo Üprus dealt with the activities of the Support Group.

The Support Group comprises 25 members of the Riigikogu.

Mr. Üprus underlined: ?The ideals and interests of the Estonian people must be formulated by the Estonian people, the representatives of the people must listen to that voice and consider it, and for that purpose the public authority must get clear guidelines for the formation of a more favourable environment.?

The Estonian Civil Society Development Concept is a suprasectoral document, which should lead to the conclusion of purposeful, value-oriented agreements. ?To the agreements that frame the sectoral cooperation in the interests of development at the level of local governments, counties and the state,? Mr. Üprus stressed.

After the reports the deliberation was held. The first deliberation of the development of the civil society was held in the Riigikogu on 12 December 2002, when the Bill on the Estonian Civil Society Development Concept was considered, and it was decided to approve it. The document provided for the formation of a joint committee of the Government and the representatives of civic associations, which was first convened in October 2003. The coordinator of the joint committee is the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and 14 representatives of civic associations and 10 of the public sector are involved in its work. For more efficient organisation of the actual work, 3 working groups have been formed, the co-chairmen of which were appointed representatives of relevant ministries and civic associations have been appointed as co-chairmen of the group.

The Action Plan for the Implementation of the Estonian Civil Society Development Concept in the Years 2004-2006 was approved by the Government on 12 August last year. The Action Plan gives the necessary checkpoints for the organisation of the work to be made during the next two years. It reflects concrete actions, persons responsible for them and necessary resources. On the basis of the plan it is possible to evaluate the achievement of the objectives and the performance of the work.

Due to the end of the working hours of the sitting, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Public Procurements Act (547 SE), initiated by the Economic Affairs Committee, was not held. The deliberation of the Bill was postponed and it was included in the agenda of the next working week.

The sitting ended at 13.17.

The Riigikogu Press Service