Editorial: a world with two million Estonians

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Photo: hong.ee

Understandably, we are upset when grand strategic goals are not worded. On the other hand, it is almost always easy to ridicule the lofty ambitions while the ranks of the scorners often include the very ones who formerly bemoaned the absence of big ideas. 

The nice and rather effective way for finding fresh ideas is brainstorming. And a rule here is that in the toss-up-ideas phase no idea is to be trampled down, and definitely not the one who uttered it.

Therefore, let us hold our horses before labelling as stupidity what the IRL chairman Margus Tsahkna said on Saturday: «Do we have guts enough, as a party, without falling into refugee panic to hoist as one grand goal the raising the numbers of those considering themselves Estonians to two million in the world? Yes, you heard it right – two million people!»

Acknowledging the shrinking and adapting to the shrinking is a way of thought providing basis to a whole list of reforms in Estonia. Broadly: if taxpayer ranks are thinning, we cannot employ as many officials as before – things need to be dome more efficiently and/or some things we are accustomed to must be given up. At that, giving things up may be and often are pretty painful.

Meanwhile, shrinking is not what stirs people up or gets them hop on board. Rarely can shrinking be called a strategic goal. At best, this is reconciling to what has been proclaimed to be inevitable, and acting accordingly. If, to the backdrop of that, somebody says he wants to apply all his powers to grow, it makes sense to at least hear him out and ask what exactly he intends to do to that purpose.  

Two million Estonians in the world is a slogan that sounds so good that it would indeed be a pity if, during the discussions of the numbers, IRL would attribute that to mainly mean stuff like e-residents of foreign workers, say – that would taste like rhetoric trickery.

Therefore, one would wish to hear consistent policy proposals in many an area. How exactly do we make people leaving Estonia to be mostly temporary – how do we keep in touch with our diaspora and what all could we do to have people return. What exactly to change in order to have Estonian families have more babies as the people indeed are dreaming of. For we do know the people would want at least twice the amount of kids they are currently having. And what would be the immigration policy which is for Estonia feasible, beneficial and realistic?

A casual glance at population prognoses is enough to categorize Mr Tsahkna’s two million talk as fantasy. But let us admit that the idea of growth has multiple times the engaging vitality in it than the talk of adapting to decrease.