Cultural Autonomy of National Minorities in Estonia: The Erosion of a Promise

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After a debate lasting several years, Estonia enacted a law of non-territorial cultural autonomy for national minorities in 1993, echoing experiences from the country’s previous period of independence. In international discussion, the law was initially cited as a promising way of dealing with minority issues in Central and Eastern Europe. With time, however, its applicability in contemporary Estonia has been questioned; in practice, the law has failed to be implemented. This paper inspects possible reasons for its disuse, and argues that the law could still play a role in Estonia’s minority policies, especially with regard to education. The paper is based on an analysis of legislation, parliamentary records and media.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)457–475
JournalJournal of Baltic Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • cultural autonomy
  • Estonia
  • Russian speakers
  • minorities

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