Estonia doesn’t want ‘a new community’ in the country ‘that doesn’t speak Estonian’, says Prime Minister Kaja Kallas
It is important for Ukrainian refugees in Estonia to learn the language of the host country, said the Prime Minister of the Baltic nation, Kaja Kallas. She made the remarks in an interview with Russian channel ETV+, which aired on Tuesday.
“Estonian lessons are also important. We don’t want a new community in Estonia that doesn’t speak Estonian,” Kallas said. “Even if they come back [to Ukraine], and 80% of the refugees say they want to go back, why not have a group of people in Ukraine who speak Estonian? There is nothing wrong with that. So, yeah, that’s the course we took from the start.
Refugees fleeing the conflict between Moscow and Kyiv have already put a strain on the country’s economy, Kallas said. “We have around 40,000 of those who have been granted temporary protected status. Those who ask for temporary protection are, so to speak, our pain and our joy. These people access our benefits system and have a distinct impact on our ratepayers,” noted the Prime Minister, adding that “There are no places for them to live, no jobs, no places in schools.”
Estonia, along with other Baltic states, has been among Ukraine’s diehard supporters amid the dispute with Moscow, strongly backing EU-wide sanctions against Russia.
Among other things, the country’s parliament passed a bill to completely abolish Russian-language education earlier this month. Kallas defended the measure, which affects Russia’s ethnic minority – about a quarter of the national population of 1.3 million. She insisted that the reform is entirely “Ordinary” thing for Europe.
“There are many children in Europe who are educated in a language other than their mother tongue. It’s normal. Children quickly learn another language. Of course, this reform could have been done many years ago, but for some reason everyone was hoping that the problem would go away on its own. He didn’t, so those laws had to be passed,” she said at the time.
The Prime Minister’s comments on Estonian language courses for Ukrainian refugees did not escape Moscow. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova took to Telegram to respond: « Kaja, Adolf [Hitler] would be proud of you. Without you, it would be much harder to prove the dehumanization of the collective West. Estonia for Estonians, right? Say it already and stop palming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with your sweaty palms.
You can share this story on social media: