Minderheitenpolitik in der Republik Estland in Geschichte und Gegenwart

Cornelius Hasselblatt


This contribution gives a survey of the development of the rights of minorities in the first Estonian republic (1918–1940) on the basic of laws and decrees and, in contrast, the events and legislative efforts since 1989/1991. The Constitution of 1920 shows a long line of regulations of minority protection: principle of equality (§ 6), native language instruction (§ 12), free determination of nationality (§ 20), right to organize (§ 21), regulations of language protection (§§ 22, 23), and later, in addition, there were special laws (f.e. the law concerning cultural autonomy of 1925). The most obvious difference as regards the Situation of today is the demographic displacement, which simply took place or was methodically organized. While there was only an insignificant change of the number of Estonians, the number of minorities has quickly increased and amounts to more than half a million - the majority of them is without nationality. In the Constitution of 1992 there are also many protective regulations: prohibition of discrimination (§ 12), right to Information in one's mother tongue (§ 21), right to being taught in one's native language (§ 37), right to organize (§ 50) as well as regulations concerning the use of the language (§§ 51, 52). In addition, significant Single laws were passed. Estonia's dilemma lies in the fact that the Estonian laws are in most cases more liberal than elsewhere in Europe, but sometimes have problematic consequences in view of the changed demographic Situation. Besides, the present minority is passive while the minorities of the time between the wars were active.