Keit Spiegel: Estonians abroad should feel they matter to Estonia
Every Estonian should feel they matter to Estonia and are a part of their country – regardless of their location in the world, Keit Spiegel, an adviser on diaspora affairs at the Estonian foreign ministry, writes in an article for Estonian World.
To achieve that Estonians abroad feel connected and included, it is vital to enhance communication and cooperation between the state – the Republic of Estonia – and the Estonians abroad. The state has ongoing activities that help preserve and promote the Estonian identity abroad, but the focus should also shift more to supporting activities that foster the diaspora’s participation in the Estonian society in various fields. This requires a long-term vision and a systematic approach.
Diasporas have long been a feature of the international environment. Strong diasporas have the power to impact the culture, economics, politics and the societies more broadly in the countries they live. As the world has become more competitive, many countries have had a conscious shift in the increased policy awareness of the potentially positive contribution that diaspora inclusion can have.
In the case of Estonia, the communication from the state’s side has so far not been systematic enough. Also, the positive impact contributed by active diaspora members through their (mainly voluntary) activities has not been sufficiently acknowledged. But, for a small country like Estonia, efficient diaspora engagement and forward-looking diaspora policy can be especially useful as it can unlock a lot of hidden potential.
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