“Soft Power” in the Service of the Security of Estonia
In Riigikogu Toimetised conversation circle on 30 April, representatives from all factions of the Riigikogu discussed what we should keep in mind in the changed security policy situation: Arto Aas (Reform Party), Liisa-Ly Pakosta (Pro Patria and Res Publica Union), Mailis Reps (Centre Party) and Rannar Vassiljev (Social Democratic Party). They were questioned by Mart Raudsaar, Editor-in-Chief of Riigikogu Toimetised. The theses of the participants in the conversation circle are summarised below.
Today, there is no influential state who does not use economic levers to protect its interests. Certainly, health, education and security are three paramount components, but it is impossible to sustain any of them without economy and income. Second, cultural capacity is important, and I would rank also language space under it, because, through language, not only is information forwarded, but also values and attitudes are developed. Estonia has fulfilled agreements in every area, be it EU rules on certain financial issues, or NATO agreements, which also gives us moral justification to later ask for services or help in return. Strong economy, growing incomes and low unemployment are important for our internal security.
Russia is trying to put much energy into justifying in some way, both at the national and international level, the conquering of one or another region. Up to now, such activity has been confined to regions where the sentiment and socio-economic background of the people would be favourable, and which could be conquered with little use of weapons. With Russia, the most important aspect is to achieve reasonable, democratic order. The most important aspect in Estonian regional policy is that the residents speaking other languages would be continuously involved in the life of society.
The problem in Ukraine is a profound socio-political split. In Estonia, too, there are people who have failed to overcome wage poverty and can see no solutions for their following generation. Certainly, the situation of Estonia is a little different, but have we given the generation of the young people who have been born and grown up here a sense of perspective that would motivate them to connect their future with Estonia? We might consider the creation of supporting levers that would encourage local governments to promote enterprise. Improvement of the condition of the spread of electricity, the Internet and roads is what helps bring enterprise to the country. We have to decide in Estonia, what will become of the current “regions with no perspective”.
The completion of education reform is one of the pillars of soft security – that local governments would be stronger and would be able to provide better social services. Low-wage jobs are disappearing from the labour market. Nearly all new opening jobs require either a high professional qualification, higher education, or the level of a specialist acquired in vocational education. The current education pattern does not work any more. It is very important for young people to find their first job quickly. At the end of the day, the best yardstick for measuring social security is the birth of children.