Theory and Practice
Edited By Ephraim Nimni, Alexander Osipov and David Smith
Vadim Poleshchuk Changes in the Concept of National Cultural Autonomy in Estonia
Vadim Poleshchuk1 Changes in the Concept of National Cultural Autonomy in Estonia In recent years international academia has actively studied the 1925 national cultural autonomy law in Estonia, the country that was the first to apply in practice an old idea of the Austro-Marxists. The reintroduction of the cultural autonomy law in once again independent Estonia in 1993 has also drawn much attention. However, there have been almost no attempts to provide a thorough comparative analysis of the 1925 and 1993 acts. Such an analysis demonstrates that the two laws are in fact essentially dif ferent, especially as regards control over minority language education. The Interwar Period: The Example of the German Community According to the 1897 census, which was conducted in the entire Russian empire, in the current territory of Estonia there were about 945,000 inhab- itants. Among them 90.6 per cent were ethnic Estonians, 4.0 per cent – Russians and 3.7 per cent – Germans. After Estonia became an independent country, the percentage of Russians reached in 1922 8.2 per cent, while the percentage of Germans dropped to 1.7 per cent; Jews and Swedes were below 1 per cent (Tiit 2011: 23, 35). 1 The author is grateful to Stuart Sweeney (UK) for his kind assistance. 150 Vadim Poleshchuk The first Estonian Constitution of 1920 guaranteed to national minori- ties the right to found autonomous institutions for the promotion of the interests of their national culture and welfare in so far as these did not run contrary to the...
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