Statement of the Academic Council of the President of the Republic

A little more than ten years have passed since the restoration of our independence. Deepening integration with Europe and the entire world has considerably changed Estonia’s reality. We can see the growing of a generation for which democratic society, active outlook to life and aspiration towards openness are self-evident. In ten more years, the representatives of that generation will have a central position in the society. It is today that they are building up their system of values – looking at the ongoing social, political and economic developments, experiencing their impact on education, everyday life, and safety. They are not influenced so much by the idea of “the advantages of democracy” as by the actual functioning of democracy here and now. It is obvious that the picture they get of today’s Estonia does not quite correspond to what we might wish for in ideals.

During its seven years of activity, the Academic Council of the President of the Republic has been the place where nearly all the trends important to the development of the Estonian people and state have been considered together, often with the help of experts. Not closing our eyes to positive changes, often arguing with each other, our Council has considered its primary task to be the mapping of the areas of Estonian life that call for closer attention. We have tried to focus on the future, on many occasions to future so distant that the prospect of discussing it does not seem too attractive to those oriented towards short-term political goals. Our country is in a situation where we have a lot of often verbalised priorities, but lack, in several areas crucial to our future, development plans designed by the legislator for years in advance that would be clear, understandable to the society and binding for the executive power. Those areas are: the role of the state in the development of the population and in the field of education, sustainable attitude towards the environment, the role of science and the technological potential in the development of society, economy, health care, and Estonia as a whole. Such confusion may grow, and develop into an administrative indecision creating uncertainty about the future – especially among the young. There is no reason to think that the negative tendencies have reached an irreversible stage, but we should not presume that the time we have is infinite.

Richer for the intellectual experience acquired during its long period of work, the Academic Council of the President of the Republic will now conclude its activities with the following statement:

The Academic Council of the President of the Republic calls the legislators elected by the people of Estonia to be above the differences of their political parties and to see the rights imposed on them as an obligation to give the state a clear, legally guaranteed and scientifically competent long-term development plan for the areas that are crucial for our future, such as education policy and scientific and technical innovation. This is the only way to overcome the attitude that reduces the development of education to the percents of salary increase and sees scientific research as a self-centred activity of a limited group of people.

We invite authorities on all levels to analyse the key problems of the development of the society in an objective and versatile way, engaging also scientists and the cultural public. Consulting with scientists must become an inseparable part of decision-making.

We invite the wide public to be much more courageous and constructive in the use of their democratic right and obligation to participate in the discussions initiated by the legislative and the executive power, and to initiate discussions also itself – thus confirming the legislator’s mandate to take the necessary legislative steps and the right of the executive power to follow those steps in its actions.

The Academic Council is grateful to the President of the Republic for creating the free and straightforward atmosphere that has surrounded all the seven years of our activity.

Kadriorg, September 6, 2001