Rahvusvähemuste kaasamine Eesti erakondade poolt



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“Minority engagement by the political parties in Estonia” The Government of the Republic of Estonia has incorporated a number of references in year 2011 to its regulation regarding the responsibility to engage stakeholder parties in the state policy making processes as well as to gauge the implications of such engagement. Furthermore, on the same year the Government approved “Good Engagement Practices”, a document articulating straightforward guidelines for planning and executing engagement of stakeholder parties aiming to improve the overall quality of engagement practices by state agencies. Demonstrating a proactive approach to identifying best practices of engagement the Government has transmitted a clear signal to the public that it is its firm intent to increase transparency in policy making and to launch a widespread dialogue with a range of stakeholder parties of the public. Interestingly, with the advent of Government-sponsored engagement propagation the most potent topic, engagement of minorities, has found next-to-none coverage by the politicians in the public media, especially in the wake of the “Bronze night” unrest in April 2007. What are the underlying reasons for such a development, a lack of initiative, engagement and dialogue? Is the referred silence in aether alluding that the principal difficulties related to the integration policy of the minorities have been successfully resolved? Inspired by the rising importance of stakeholder engagement in Estonian society as well as the state objective to engage minority groups in the framework of integration policy the current master's thesis primarily concerns with studying minority engagement policies and practices in Estonia. In the framework of political communication studies the particular objective of the current master's thesis is to research the attitudes, goals and perceptions of Estonian political parties regarding minority engagement. Concordantly, the attitudes and perceptions of the minority groups are explored, too. The findings are juxtaposed in order to investigate potential shifts (misunderstandings) in perceiving the communication between political parties and minority groups in the framework of minority engagement and integration policies. Furthermore, the master's thesis aims to gauge how the political parties assess the postoccupation era integration policy in Estonia. Finally, the master's thesis examines engagement practices of state agenencies and representative attitudes of key officials towards the integration policy. The particular research questions of the master's thesis are as follows: a) How can be best described the attitude and approach to minority engagement by the political parties in Estonia? How do political parties execute their respective policies and engage minority groups? (Do the political parties view and target minorities as a distinct segment? Why do the political parties engage minority groups? How do the attitude and approach to minority engagement differ by the political parties in Estonia? Do the political parties appreciate the importance and implications of the state integration policy? Why? How do the political parties assess the state integration policy executed since re-establishment of the country's independence? What are the best practices for minority engagement? How do the political parties view a minority group's chances to directly influence the development of state policy?) b) Does the nation state discourse clash with that of citizen state? (How do the politicial parties understand and characterize a nation state concept in Estonia? How do the political parties assess and characterize a minority representative's chances to participate in state building in the framework of citizen engagement? What is the viewpoint of the politicial parties on multicultural state concept?) c) What constitutes the body of principles and accepted practices for state agencies in communication with minority groups? (Do the state agencies view and target minorities as a distinct segment? Are the state agencies' engagement practices rather influenced by the ideology of the leading minster's political party or by the best practices proposed by experts? What are the best practices of (minority) engagement?) The introductory theoretical section of the work provides an overview of the discussions by Brubaker, Smith and Gellner on nationalism as well as highlights the theories on state building by Lintz and Stepan. Furthermore, the introduction provides the reader with principles of engagement, specifically in the framework developed by Arnstein. Additionally, the principal politicial ideologies of Estonian political parties are introduced so as to provide backdrop for assessing the parties' approaches to minority engagement. Finally, the empirical groundwork from secondary survey sources is presented highlighting the key variables affecting minority participation in state building: language proficiency, attitudes towards the state and political preferences. The third section of the work provides primary material for discussion. Semi-structured interviews with key representatives of political parties and state agencies deliver unique raw material. Application of grounded theory and rigorous text analysis enable to cast light behind the scenes and understand the political undercurrents shaping Estonia's minority-oriented policy, but also to map out the best practices of engagement tried and tested by state agencies. The fifth section of the work presents the key findings, synthesis and aswers to research questions. In overall, the interviewed key representatives of political parties and state agencies did not consider nor perceive Estonia as a single nation state. The ethnic Estonian majority co-existing with alien minority groups is not in conflict with the Estonian nation state concept according to the interviewed politicians. On the other hand, Estonian society has yet to progress from ethnic nation state concept to political citizen state concept. The interviewed individuals identified the importance of citizen state society as a development milestone. However, according to them, a very young and inexperienced citizen society as well as the generally passive leitmotif in Estonia is to be blamed for slow pace in the development towards citizen state. Interestingly, the interviewed politicians and officials did not manage to properly conceptualize the impact of citizen-oriented approach for the benefit of the society's development. Should it be characterized by a strong grass roots movement able to assume political responsibility or a select number of representative political parties geared to promote a narrow agenda of sponsored interests? The interviews demonstrated a consensus on valuing and nurturing cultural differences and native language practices in the framework of cultural engagement. All interviewed politicians aknowledged the importance of the integration policy, mainly due the fact that the benefit dedicating attention and resources to the topic is far greater than ignoring the topic completely. Such a viewpoint renders the minority groups to be viewd as a resource for the benefit of the state and society. Minority groups are actively engaged by the current oposition parties based on universalist value-driven political ideology, whereas the current government parties execute a significantly more passive engagement policy based on, also universalist, but pragmatic realpolitik idealogy. In the Arnstein framework of engagement Estonian political parties and state agencies value open information communication practices. However, not all minority stakeholders are reached in the second tier consultancy phase, because the political parties rather interact with cultural associations of the minority groups. Due to low level of proactive grass roots engagement in Estonian society, the political parties are deprived of a social partner to engage and consult with. The interviewed representatives of the state agencies aknowledge great responsibility to nurture a positive environment to promote social engagement and its best practices. However, currently the Arnstein consulting and engagement practices are in their infancy and thus not executed properly.