Party Platform

 

Our main objectives in the development of the democratic Estonia

1.      In the eyes of Estonian Centre Party the main objectives of both foreign and security policies of Estonia, as a member of European Union and NATO, is to guarantee its sovereignty, independence, and constitutional order and improve the standard of living of its people.

2.       The foundation of the structure of European society is a wealthy and numerous middle class. Its formation is the main objective of the Estonian Centre Party. The target group of our electors is the middle class.

3.      Our objective is a safe and secure European welfare state. Any man works with zeal and loves his state when his state protects him. Estonian Centre Party considers both internal security, defence for ecological threats, and social security as part of a safe and secure society.

4.      The corner stone of our economic policy is a social market economy, and a compatible and harmonious tax system that takes into consideration the interests and needs of the society and its members, i.e. progressive tax system. We wish to create a society where a greater part of national treasure is divided between the majority and is not subject to or controlled by a minority group.

5.      A life worthy of living shall be provided to everyone despite their race, nationality or religious background that want to live here in this country, respect its constitutional order and democratic values. The strength of Estonia lies in its inner unanimity.

6.   The Estonian Centre Party regards the balanced development of ecological solutions as high importance. Environment is more and more of an issue in its social sense as, first of all, it acts as a collateral of health and welfare of a human being. The Estonian Centre Party sees organic agriculture, nature preserving life style, alternatively produced electric power and environmental education as the future of healthy Estonian environment.

MIDDLE CLASS

Estonian society is in a transitional phase where the delamination of the society, as it is typical to a market economy, is still in the process. The middle class consists of various groups of population whose values regarding their lifestyle and mentality are relatively different. Class awareness is rather modest in Estonia.

Delamination has obtained high contrast. Only one out of four have a financially secure life. The difference between the level of income of the high and low class is more than ten times. It is a witness of extreme inequality between the classes. Those states, where the social security status of its population is sharply uneven, have seldom success in the long run.

Like any other market economy state, Estonia needs a strong middle class. Middle class is composed of intellectuals ranging from technicians to humanists, employees to sole proprietors, and professionals to farmers. As a rule, those are the people who are interested in the balanced development of the state. They wish to combine their life goals with a possibility to earn an honest living and income that corresponds to their professional knowledge, experience and effort, have an interest in owning personal property, improving their qualifications and saving for the sake of the future of their children.

Middle class is the basis of a stable democracy, acting as a balance between two extremes and ensuring the retention of a market economy and democracy. A large middle class insures tranquility amongst the numerous social and ethnic groups by lessening the threat of various crises.

A balanced and stable welfare state is formed purposefully; it is not born on its own. Barriers that hinder operational opportunities of several social groups such as the poor, non-Estonian nationals, women, youth etc. need to be demolished in Estonia. Changing discriminative legislation and public opinion next to large-scale social and educational programs is a prerequisite.

DEVELOPMENT OF AN INDEPENDENT STATEHOOD AND PROTECTION OF DEMOCRACY

The Republic of Estonia is founded upon freedom, righteousness and justice. The Estonian Centre Party considers it important that the authority of the state is exercised with respect towards its people and their fundamental rights. The fundamental rights and freedom of people are stipulated in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) and the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia – general human rights, prohibition and prevention of discrimination of all forms, equality of treatment of all people, creating equal opportunities, principle of solidarity; this should be recognized as the highest value in a state based on the rule of law. No democratic country should disregard the interests of minorities or the most vulnerable social strata. Care, tolerance, pluralism and freedom are basic values for our society.

Development of democracy

Democratic values should be preserved, promoted and protected. There is a general opinion in Estonia, that is also an indication of danger, that upon our joining the European Union we are „done with“ in regards to democracy. It refers to the crisis of democracy when the authority of the state is estranged from its people and the people are estranged from the state. We need to make sure that the general public realizes its importance as a support guide in the issues of national importance.

1.      Parliamentary democracy. We consider it of importance to continuously improve parliamentary democracy. There is more to parliamentary democracy than the right of majority to exercise state authorityanyhow despising any values. The decision making of the majority is by far limited with internationally recognized and protected standards for human rights that take into consideration the rights of minorities that prohibits their interests to be ignored in the background of a majority vote.

2.      Presidential institution.  We consider it of importance to enforce direct election of the President.

3.   Political parties and their responsibility. At the state level, the Estonian Centre Party supports the formation of strong political parties with large membership who are capable to make necessary reforms. We consider it purposeful in order to increase political stability and build the responsibility of the members of the Riigikogu it is necessary that only political parties and independent candidates participate in the elections.

4.      Democracy and local government. Local government should be continuously given as much competence of decision making as possible to promote the formation of a truly democratic country. Only such questions should be placed within the competence of the state that by nature require state-level regulation.

5.      Legal protection of the general population.Everyone may pursue their claims to protect their constitutional rights and exercise control over the authority of the state by judicial process. The faith of the population in an independent and effective court system is undermined when the process of litigation takes years due to poor performance of overworking judges. It is important to allocate resources to provide the judical system with sufficient financial resources and qualified personnel.

We consider it of importance that only persons with high moral standards are appointed in the judical offices. We consider it necessary to promoteextrajudicial adjudication of disputes and appeals to decrease the workload of the judical system. For this purpose court officials should be required to work more intensively and determine an action quickly and in a righteous manner extra judiciously.

6.   Legal protection out of Estonia. Estonia should develop into a society that allows its general public to trust the state and count upon it when out of the country. It requires more efficient protection of its citizens outside the borders of the Republic of Estonia, especially in the midst of diverse crisis.

7.   The part of scientific and social research in the formation of administrative decisions. We consider it of extreme importance to improve the efficiency of social research that involves substantive and objective information on society; both the resources of universities and other state institutions and private sector should be involved in the research.

Decisions made at state-level that regard the fields of economy, social issues, health care, environmental issues, education, national defence, internal security etc. require proper scientific research in the area, and the results should be taken to the decision makers and applied to life. We emphasize the importance of social research as a trustworthy instrument for feedback. This allows the general public to act as a support guide to the state for exercising authority and also allows the general public to assess the activities of the state authority.

8.      Improvement of personal skills of officials and their administrative capacity.We consider it of extreme importance to have an effective and a high-level capacity state administration. The administrative capacity of the state administration of Estonia has decreased due to inefficient political management and staff turnover caused by political opinions. We consider it of importance to improve the training of officials (incl. Policemen, medical and social workers, prison guards, official of the rescue service, but also teachers, youth and physical education teachers) and value their input.

9.      State with active legal capacity. We are not only for „a state„ but an assessable and defensive state with active legal capacity that acts in the interests of its citizens. Only a state like this can ensure the safety and welfare of its citizens. Estonian Centre Party considers it unacceptable to promote a „shrinking“ state, reduction of taxes, or state administration based on business values that are hostile regarding lay citizens. 

10.  Estoniaand European Union. The main task of the Government in the terms and conditions of the European Union is to defend the interests of Estonia, define our specific historic, natural and cultural characteristics in due course, and defend them in the European Union. For this purpose foreign missions have been established to act upon the guidelines set by the Government and the Riigikogu.

The security of the population and maintenance of law and order

Security and effective maintenance of law and order has always been a priority for the Estonian Centre Party. Security is an inalienable right and jointly owned by us. It acts as the foundation of a stable, sustainable and united state whose members share the value of solidarity and humanity.

We see a dangerous tendency to facilitate the fight against crime and thus increase adversity in regard to crime prevention. Ensuring security is not a mystic fight between good and evil that could be overcome by exerting force alone. The fight against the source of crime is being replaced with the fight against the consequences of crime.

On one hand, the development of statehood and our belonging to the European Union and NATO has significantly increased our security but, on the other hand, the process of globalization has generated new kinds of dangers that make us rather vulnerable.

1.      We work towards a common goal that all people living in Estonia would feel secure despite their convictions, citizenship, financial state or any other terms.

2.      We deny a simplified approach to intolerance and manipulation with the hopes of people. No „fight“ of this kind has proven successful in real life. Scientific research has proven that crime suppressed by force will not disappear but appear anew in a more large-scale manner.

3.   In Estonia today, the source and consequences of crime are often mixed up that in turn lower the effectiveness of law enforcement. Such an approach hinders a stable and democratic progress in society as it draws an unseen line set between good and evil that in turn may lead to a dividing gap in society and tire out the state and its resources.

4.      It is necessary to rely upon both the state power structure and state supervision organs and citizens’ associations toguarantee the social security of the people and internal security of the state. We want to reinforce state supervision over business operations in the field of health care, social services (both production and consumption), transport, energy, and education, as the above mentioned products and services are closely related to the social security and general wellbeing of the people.

5.      Successful launching of a social security program is not possible without a co-operation between the state, local governments and tertiary sector. It is functional to hold a local government partially responsible for the funding of social services and delegate certain freedom to a local government to provide social services in its administrative territory.

6.   It is important to defend the constitutional rights of its citizens should the state use its power in an unauthorised manner. It is necessary to improve the supervision of the activities of the state and non-governmental organizations, and renew thoroughly Security Authorities Act and Surveillance Act in order to secure people´s rights. In our opinion, The Ministry of Internal Affairs should be responsible for the internal security and Prosecutor’s Office for the criminal proceedings in the country.

7.   Estonian Centre Party considers it necessary to delegate additional responsibilities to the municipal police and provide them with budget resources to fulfil the appointed tasks. It is needed to create a unit of the environmental police as a part in the Estonian Police.

8.   We are very concerned for the large amount of stateless persons in Estonia and apply necessary means acceptable to the European standards to improve the situation.

Foreign and security policy

The main objective of both foreign and security policy of Estonia as a member of European Union and NATO is to guarantee its sovereignty and independence, constitutional order and secure the standard of living of its people. This kind of policy is a part of an effective foreign and security policy of the European Union based on the agreements between sovereign states.

1.      Estonian national security and state defence is supported by our foreign and security policy. We agree that it is necessary to develop collective security policies and be participants to realize them.

2.      We support European security strategy and global transnational cooperation to reduce security risks and create a more safe and secure world. European defence policy should be developed in close cooperation with NATO that gives an advantage to succeed in the battle against organized crime, uncontrolled distribution of mass destruction weapons, and terrorism that endangers peace and welfare of mankind.

3.      Joint activities with the European Union are a prerequisite for crime prevention. We support the idea to submit the foreign and security policy of the European Union and its member states to a democratic control carried out by the parliaments of the member states, while leaving the national parliaments the right to decide whether their troops participate in military missions or not.

4.      We emphasize the importance of global cooperation in order to achieve the goals for the new Millenium set by the United Nations to reduce poverty and strengthen democracy. We consider it important to increase the input of Estonia into development cooperation.

5.      Estonian participation in the crisis management missions of the European Union and United Nations cannot be overestimated. Participation in international crisis management operations is the most likely emergency situation for Estonia that requires military intervention. Our defence forces should be developed in close co-operation with NATO in order to achieve the goals of NATO military capacities. For this purpose, 2% of the GDP should be allocated for defence expenses in the state budget.

6.      It is important to develop Estonia´s self-defence ability. Estonian state defence lies continuously on conscript service obligation and professional units. Main objectives for the next ten years is to increase the importance of mobile units in the army and reorganize the structureof our territorial defence into land defence based upon the Defence League.

7.      We support the extension and reinforcement of the stability belt in the areas bordering the European Union such as Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, South-Caucasus, Near-East and Mediterranean.

8.      We are in favour of the further enlargement of the European Union based on the Copenhagen criteria.

9.      We support unanimity among the member states regarding the immigration policy and the rules for granting asylum.

10.  We emphasize the importance of equal development, goodneighbourly and developing relations with neighbouring countries at the Baltic Sea.

11.  We share a stand that cooperation with Russia in the field of culture, economy and environmental issues based on European and simply human values helps to achieve a more stable democracy and improve international relations. 

Internal security

In order to guarantee internal security, it is the priority of the Estonian Centre Party to fight against drug addiction, alcoholism, local crime, corruption, traffic danger, home violence, organized crime, terrorism, racism and national hostility, illegal immigration, technology crime, theft of intellectual property, prostitution and school violence.

Effective measures to avoid the above mentioned threats include:

1.      To increase the instruments allocated from the state budget for the prevention and minimization of the negative impact caused by the above mentioned factors.

2.      To implement the solidarity principle of the European Union by, first of all, ratifing gradually The European Social Charter, and financing occupational disease insurance fund by the employers.

3.      To implement significantly more projects that are funded by the European Union with the purpose to strengthen internal security.

4.      To create a quick and timely competitive system to analyze the risks of internal security, and a system to prevent crisis and provide a quick relief of its consequences. To establish crisis management centres in all counties.

5.   To improve ways to control migration processes and create better conditions for loyal and law-abiding persons to acquire citizenship by naturalisation in a more efficient way.

6.      Specifically, to pay attention to the fight against theft and corruption at all levels.

7.      To effectuate the work of the youth police and create an effective institution of school psychologists.

8.      To develop crisis management centres for home violence victims all over the state.

9.      To create a rehabilitation and follow-up network for the homeless, ex-convict, ex-drug addict and HIV-positive.

10.  To involve private persons and tertiary sector through appropriate contracts or projects.

11.  In cooperation with the local government to ensure safe school routes, playgrounds, sports facilities and activity centres for children.

12.  To allocate necessary means to develop state security requirements for residential buildings and areas, approve of detail plans and security requirements of residential buildings and areas.

13.               To implement in a more efficient manner the measures stipulated in the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act that allows the state to acquire the goods arrested from the criminals in case of traits of money laundry.

14.  To defendthe constitutional rights of people should the state use its power in an unauthorised manner, and eliminate any hindrance to obtain legal aid due to bureaucracy.

15.  To promote international cooperation with other member states of the European Union against crime, as well as intensify cooperation with the law enforcement structures of the Russian Federation and The United States of America.

16.  To fasten significantly the process of road construction by involving the instruments of the European Union in order to increase traffic safety.

Local government

The Estonian Centre Party states that local governments act as the basis of a democratic society. In the sphere of local government it is our policy to form a citizen society as stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, and involve inhabitants in the decision-making concerning local matters. Present clerk-centered society is not acceptable to us. We rely on the principles of the European Charter on Local Self Government. Local government acts as a partner to the state power in local matters, not a blind executor of orders.

We consider it necessary to make following changes in the work of local government:

1.      To increase the power delegated to local government regarding decision making in local matters. We are in favour of increasing the independence and responsibility delegated to the local government: giving them more rights regarding budget- making and creating possibilities to arrange local social and economic life as stipulated in the law.

2.      To develop a new system for local municipalities for budget- making. Fair and even distribution channel of financial instruments is needed in order to promote equal development of local governments.

3.      It is our goal to raise the revenue base of local governments to a level that in addition to daily expenses secures excess funds for investments, depreciation of fixed assets and down payment of participation in the projects of the European Union.  

4.   To guarantee effective means to maintain and improve local social infrastructure, e.g. kindergardens, schools, social welfare service, cultural and sporting facilities etc, and technical infrastructure, e.g. roads, streets, pavements, bicycle roads, street lightning, public transport, water supply, sewerage, waste disposal, green areas, resort areas, beaches etc.

5.   Local government is held responsible for the stable and sustainable functioning of vital infrastructure units (water supply,sewerage, heat network,public transport) despite their form of ownership. Local government should be able to control and regulate the quality and price formation of the monopoly enterprises that offer the above mentioned services.

6.      To pay more attention to and allocate necessary means for the development of local road and street networks. It is also necessary to guarantee an up-to-date standard and road capacity of local roads next to strategically important transportation links.

7.      The weight and amount of municipal land has to be enlarged. Local government has to be given the authority to act as a landlord in local land-related matters.

8.      Local school buildings need to remain the property of local municipalities in order to keep education accessible to all.

9.      Local municipalities need to provide continuous support for apartment and housing associations and necessary help to organise purposeful performance of the apartment and housing associations.

10.  The Estonian Centre Party considers it necessary to increase the volume of projects that apply for European Union structural funds subsidies at least two times during the next period of 2007 – 2013, and increase cooperation with EU institutions.

11.  To increase the role of the association of municipalities in Estonia and promote regional cooperation at the local county level. To improve territorial management measures and make necessary amendments to the territorial management system in order toavoid the dominance of municipal department management.

12.  We consider it efficient to unite small or circle rural municipalities. The consent of local inhabitants and their active participation in the association process is a pre-requisite. Merging has to originate from the need to serve a local community better and cannot harm the interests of local inhabitants nor development perspectives of the local community in any way.

13.               The merge of rural municipalities accelerates the growth of self-awareness of local villages. The Estonian Centre Party aims to increase the consciousness of the role of the village and village elder in society and bring legal regulation into conformity with the needs of real life.

14.  It is very important to offer competitive salary to the leaders and officials of local governments. Economizing on management expenses of the state and local government has to be a continuous process, not a short-lived campaign.

15.  The governance of a rural municipality or town is more consistent and its development perspectives more stable when only individual candidates and lists of party candidates accountable to their parties and programs compete in the elections.

16.  Towns and settlements are both a daily residential environment and a centre for commercial and social services and social life at the same time. The mode of living has to be safe and respond to the needs and customs of our daily life. The capability of a local community centre to act as the thriving force for local development affects the competitiveness of the whole region, and for this reason the state has to provide necessary terms and conditions for regional development.

Regional development

In a small country, there is no periphery. Our goal is to guarantee a balanced regional and social development of Estonia as a whole.

A regionally balanced development of Estonia relies on a modern and internationally competitive communication network and transport infrastructure. It involves road, air and sea traffic, as well as ports, custom terminals and logistic centres. It has to provide an unhindered movement of goods and passengers at a minimal time and guaranteed safety.

Altogether, the responsibility for the unhindered function of strategic networks and objects, main railways and railway stations, seaways and major ports, air ways, air traffic service centres and major airports, state roads, despite their form of ownership, lies on the state. All services have to be accessible in all local county centres.

The Estonian Centre Party shares a firm stand that in order to guarantee a balanced development of different regions, it is necessary to fulfil following tasks regarding regional policy:

1.      To decrease economic inequality between different regions of the state and create equal possibilities for economic progress.

2.   To support remote regions in finding and solving economic and social problems due to their geographical location and providing equal technical infrastructure (roads, public transportation, telecommunication and computer networks) and education (incl. continuing education and retraining).

3.   To strengthen the role of local county governments as a coordinator and shaper of development strategies that guarantees a better and more balanced execution of local and state interests.

4.      The development of small and medium sized enterprises is vital for employment. We focus on providing new development opportunities for local economic life, better exploitation of local capabilities and specific characteristics, and the cooperation between public and private sector. It is efficient to establish business incubators in all local county centres.

5.      It is important to integrate internal regional policy with the opportunities offered by the structural policy of European Union to provide a balanced and wholesome development of Estonia based on the need for development in different regions. The state is also required to develop and accept a law that handles matters regarding regional development strategies and development.

6.      We see developing cross-border activities and various environment and culture-related projects, as well as joint projects in the field of economy and education with neighbouring countries, as one form of regional policy.

7.   Regional policy requires solidarity with those living in a distant or economically less developed region. It is necessary that the state and local rural municipality subsidises public transportation and ferry traffic connecting the islands with the mainland, travel fare concession for the students, elderly and disabled.

8.      It is necessary to provide modern communication and postal services in every region, including small islands and areas with a sparse population. Equal postal services should be available to all people at a single rate.

ECONOMIC POLICY

Estonian economy has changed significantly since the Programme of Self-Supporting Estonia (Isemajandav Eesti, IME). Economy has grown and taken on another form, initial unified movement towards market economy has been replaced by a typical accumulation of the capital. The main value of society – a human being – has been forgotten under the influence of the ideology of the ruling extreme liberal policy.

We may take pride in the fast growth of GDP, stable Estonian kroon, low public debt, vast spread of the internet and the amount of automobiles. At the same time, we may see the hidden sides of the progress, such as large economic inequality, low life standard of an average person, uneven regional development, vast spread of crime, AIDS, drug addiction and alcoholism, rural life crisis, the bad condition of roads and public transportation, unemployment, low salaries and pensions, a negative birth rate and street children, crisis in medical aid and the departure of trained professionals abroad, lack in educational system, the massive and thoughtless sale of property to foreigners and dominant rule of foreign investments in every area of life, loss of faith in the state and degradation of democracy.

Our economic structure proves to be unsatisfactory – we are subcontractors living in debt, producing little additional value. The state´s stake in economy has been below critical limit, and it has been impossible for the state to influence economic development of the state, nor provide social standards taken for granted in Europe.

Main objectives of economic policy of the Centre Party

1.    The development of social market economy is the corner stone economic policy of the Centre Party. Economic matters need to be solved in connection with social matters. Our objective is to decrease the financial stratification of the population and uneven regional development.

2.    The growth of GDP and life standard has to be at least 6% in a year.

3.    The state has to become a more active economic agent, supporting research and development and protecting enterprises from unfair competition.

4.    The state has to improve the management of state-owned enterprises and establish clear objectives.

5.    Economic management decisions have to be based upon scientific research and the outcome of economic research has to be implemented in practice.

Following measures shall be applied in order to achieve the above-mentioned goals:

1.   We accept and apply a new competition act in order to ensure a free and honest competition not only in words but in real life.

2.      We support small enterprises.

3.      We support development and research, ensure a competitive salary for the employees and prevent the massive departure of employees abroad.

4.      We ensure training and skill improvement in accordance with the needs of economy.

5.      We support and involve municipalities to create new working places.

6.      We guarantee stable prices and money.

7.      We reform the tax system that will proceed from social justice and supports entrepreneurship.

8.      We promote further development of high added-value final products.

9.      We make the system of public procurement more transparent.

10.  We develop significantly the infrastructure of the state and allocate more means for road construction and maintenance.

11.  We direct additional investments and development assistance to regions with weaker economy in order to decrease economic inequality.

12.                                                                                                           We strengthen the office of competition board, consumer protection board and labour inspectorate.

13.  We take maximum advantage of the opportunities provided by the European Union regulations to protect the interests of Estonia.

Finance, taxes and state budget

Estoniahas to fulfil the duties of a European Union member state. Taxes and state budget have to obtain a more relevant role in ensuring harmonious development of society. Our tax rate has been remarkably lower than EU average and we have preferred to build our state without a public debt.

We consider it necessary to apply following means:

1.      We change existing social tax system that inhibits entrepreneurship, and reinforce tax discipline. We make state budget transparent again.

2.      While general income tax burden decreases, we will eventually switch to a progressive tax system. Upon determining the income tax rate, we take into account the number of children in the family. We raise income tax exemption to the same level with the minimum salary. Investments in Estonia remain exempted from income tax.

3.      We will implement regional tax incentives, increase the power given to local municipalities to levy local taxes, and impose inheritance tax andestate tax on large properties, and excise duty on luxury goods.

4.      We increase state expenses on the development of economic, educational, cultural and social sphere. Pension rate will increase in correlation with the average salary.

5.      We increase state expenses on both physical and social infrastructure and stop their further breakdown.

6.      Following the requirements of The EU Stability Pact we apply measures to prevent sudden rise in prices after the adoption of the euro.

7.   We support the work of loan and savings associations.

Transportation program

Estoniais a country bordered by the sea and located at transit routes, for this reason cargo ships, ports and connecting roads play an important role in our economy as it strengthens our position in the world market economy and helps to equilibrate balance of payments. Unfortunately, the tonnage of Estonian cargo fleet has decreased remarkably, and our roads and frontier stations are in unsatisfactory condition.

 

We need to apply following measures to develop our transport system:

1.      We establish a support system pursuant to European Union regulations in order to support the development of shipping activities and improve its competitiveness.

2.      We remit the income of fuel excise duty entirely for the development of road network and transport infrastructure.

3.      We involve instruments of various support programmes financed by the EU funds to build major highways, railways and other infrastructure objects and improve traffic safety.

4.      We create a connecting road network based on the passenger flow analysis.

5.      We begin to prepare the construction of express railway Rail Baltica with the European track width in the direction of south.

6.      We consider it possible to establish new state-invested enterprises, such as Estonian State Railway and Estonian State Shipping.

7.      The transport infrastructure of the state and its holding companies are not subject to privatization.

8.      We support the construction of transport corridors in Tallinn and a transport and logistics centre that would be located near the airport.

Rural life

The Centre Party has a firm stand that the state has the responsibility for the welfare of rural life and agriculture despite the accession to the European Union and implementation of the common agricultural policy. The goal of the agricultural policy of the Centre Party is to retain settlement system in the countryside and prevent the gradual degradation of agriculture. It is the task of the state to support rural life systematically and create opportunities for rural producers to develop an effective and competitive economy.

1.   A qualified rural worker has to have a similar life standard compared to qualified workers in other fields. The state applies necessary compensative economic measures should the life standard of a rural worker be significantly lower due to objective reasons. The work of a rural entrepreneur functioning in an effective manner has to be profitable.

2.      We support the diversity of small and medium-sized enterprises. It is functional to encourage the development of multipurposed farms, i.e. study, trial and research farms. We support the maintenance of country homes that require part-time work as they promote the life in a village.

3.      Educational institutions that offer high-standard training in the field of agriculture are inevitable. Our goal is to upgrade their training fields and ensure stable investments. Educational institutions need to be financed in correlation with their specific needs due to the field of study.

4.      We encourage joint activities of rural producers as it results in more investments and capital. We create opportunities for the development of support services for regional enterprises. We find it necessary to provide state support for professional and trade associations in order to offer qualified professional counsel in the countryside.

5.      We ensure simplified and transparent use of rural life support schemes. We endorse separate support programs for young farmers.

6.   We take into consideration the national importance of land improvement systems and share a belief that the state has to ensure the maintenance and retention of existing systems.

7.   We support school teachers, doctors, culture workers, and other professionals, that have a practice in the countryside, who promote sustainable rural village life and complement rural producers with their skills.

8.      Our goal is that Estonia participates actively in the formation of common agricultural policy of the European Union, proceeding from the interests of Estonia regarding development perspectives of local rural life and agriculture, in order to guarantee sufficient quota, economic stability and sustainable progress of rural life.

9.      We support state-directed application of renewable energy to appreciate and maintain rural life, as well as create additional stable employment opportunities. We find it necessary to transfer a majority of rural enterprises to a bioenergy-based technology production. We stand for the state support of rural enterprises that use bioenergy-based technology (fiscal policy, state programmes, additional grants etc).

10.  We create necessary conditions to promote a sustainable domestic fishing industry.

SOCIAL SECURITY AND SOCIAL WELFARE PROVISION

Estonian society lacks clear social policy and agreement regarding the obligations of the state for its citizens and inhabitants. Media and everyday knowledge is overruled by the ideas of new liberalism that redicules solidarity and other basic human principles and values.

A great number of the Estonian population live below the poverty threshold. Lack of social security has led to a self-destructive behaviour. Estonia is on top of the list of diverse violent and accidental deaths in the world.

The primary task of the state is to guarantee the sustainability of Estonian nation and a dignified life to all Estonians. The fulfilment of this task cannot rely on momentary interests of a political group, random decisions of a local government nor a „project“ initiated by citizens. Social policy has to determine the tasks of the state and the society in order to guarantee a dignified and safe life to everyone and provide opportunities to realize it.

Principles of our social policy

1.      Our goal is to guarantee safety to everyone despite their age, gender, nationality, place of residence, wealth, capabilities or health. Every person is of value and deserves to have opportunities to find his place in the society and feel needed by the society.

2.      The preferences of Estonian social policy and social welfare arrangements and work methods have to rely on systematic scientific and social research and practical expertise that enable us to find best solutions suited for our terms here in Estonia.

3.      We want to initiate wide-scale public discussions in order to find solutions for strategic social issues and reach a social agreement that covers all vital areas of life. Main emphasis is the prevention of social problems, not to fight with their consequences.

4.      Our social policy is to develop a sense of social cohesion and promote citizen initiative. We encourage citizens to show interest, initiative and activeness to guarantee the welfare of themselves and others, and find solutions for social issues. We promote cooperation between diverse interest groups, citizen associations, political parties, boards and experts. Cooperation between educational, health care, legal protectionandlaw and ordermaintenance departmentsand being of one mind is especially needed for a successful effectuation of social policy.

5.      Social welfare arrangements should emphasise on the support for individuals and families to be able to manage their lives in their natural living environment and shape their environment accordingly should it be necessary. Help should be available to everyone in need of help without humiliation. Responsibility should begin within the family relations.

6.      A fair number of trained professionals specialised in social studies and school social affairs, child protection and youth work should be involved in local government, schools, hospitals and other institutions in order to establish a safety network.

7.      In order to guarantee the proper function of social welfare system, it is necessary to have an appropriate number of institutions and buildings providing a sufficient number of places equipped up to generally recognized standards nowadays.

Sociopolitical measures

1.      We put more effort into protection of generally acknowledged human rights in Estonia to prevent any kind of discrimination and promote the principles of equality of treatment.

2.      We raise the standard of living and create new working places in order to decrease poverty rate. We develop general education and vocational education system to support small and medium size enterprises by developing general and vocational education system, and providing retraining and counseling for the unemployed.

3.      We allocate more resources for carefully considered prevention programs in order to avoid the birth and increase of social issues. We develop and apply a necessary evaluation system in order to determine actual need for state´s assistance.

4.      We apply restrictions for the sale of alcohol and tobacco products. We promote media- and school-based tobacco and alcohol use prevention, as well as HIV/AIDS and violence prevention. We pursue a ban on the advertisements of alcohol, tobacco and sex services.

5.      We put more emphasis on informing the public and risk groups about family and couple violence, improve counseling and training programs for risk groups (especially children, women and elderly people) and violent groups in order to improve their awareness and reaction in stressful circumstances.

6.      We work to create a safety network to provide necessary professional help for every Estonian resident in case of need.

7.   We improve significantly the quality and availability of social services in local municipalities, youth institutions, schools, hospitals and nursing homes. We inform people with coping difficulties about available social services.

8.   We guarantee that the posts of social workers are gradually supplied with trained professionals and raise the level of income and work conditions to the same level with the average salary for people with a similar training and expertise. We will reach a level of at least one child protection official per 1000 children.

Civil initiative and co-operation

1.      We create co-operation bodies at state and local municipality level to promote and improve the activities of tertiary sector to find and establish suitable ways of co-operation.

2.      We allocate a fixed amount of resources for the training of regional initiators, preparation for and participation in the projects of European Union.

3.      We help to co-ordinate co-operation between diverse interest groups. We promote the initiative and activities of volunteer centres in Estonia.

4.      We promote the activities of citizen associations such as Neighbourhood Watch, Safe Community, Child Friendly City, and other similar associations that promote a safe environment, social cohesion, and help for those in need.

Family policies

We emphasise the role of a family and home in the life of a child as the best environment for a growing child. We promote the role and responsibility of both parents in bringing up their children.

To support a family:

1.      Weapply an effective allowance payable on the birth of the child.

2.      We peg parental allowances and benefits with parental training program and health care before and after the birth of the child.

3.      We extend the length of parental benefit payments until the child´s third birthday.

4.      We increase the amount of child support given to families with multiple children.

5.      We create a system to compensate for the expenses spent on education and hobby education to guarantee equal opportunities for personal development and quality free time for all children.

6.      We provide extensive opportunities for child day care (incl. flexitime long day groups and day centres) for disabled children to facilitate the active learning and working of the parents.

7.      We guarantee allowance for single-parent families who receive no support payments from the other parent by creating an effective functioning allowance fund.

8.      We acknowledge the need for a balanced work and leisure time.

9.      We create a state system that deals with school drop-outs, kids with behaviour problems and risk groups to win them back to the society.

10.  We organise systematic pedagogical counsel and aid for families, and for this purpose, re-organise or create multifunctional day centres across the state.

11.  We improve the preparation of the youth leaving an orphanage or foster home, and provide them with a support person for up to a two-year period in order to prepare them for an independent and responsible life.

Housing policy

We are guided by the principle that everyone has a right for a place of residence. We alter the state strategy accordingly.

1.      First of all, we create opportunities for young families and tenants living in restituted houses to obtain a soft loan with the collateral given either by the state or local municipality.

2.      We reinforce the importance of municipal housing projects and social housing premises.

3.      We develop the goals and tasks of the state and local municipalities to build and guarantee social housing premises for young families until they are able to solve their housing issues.

4.      We develop a support and (loan) counseling procedure for those in risk of losing their home.

5.      We apply measures to compensate for tenants living in restituted premises for any injustice done in the process of the ownership reform.

6.      We consider it necessary to increase the number of places in shelter houses and finance them in order to solve the issue of the street kids and homeless.

Elderly and people with difficulties in coping

We apply measures to activate people living within minimum means of subsistence and facing difficulties in coping, and improve their integration in society.

For this reason:

1.   We guarantee gradual raise in pensions up to an acceptable standard in the European Union. Future pension funds can not be formed at the cost of today´s pensioners.

2.   We support the principle of lifelong learning in all areas of social life so that lifelong education is accessible to all.

3.   We apply active measures to carry out regular research of the workforce market, investigate the demand for workforce and effective ways to implement an active labour market policy.

4.      We initiate a state program to guarantee the services of nursing hospitals, nursing homes, nursing homes for disabled people, nursing care and other similar services for people in need of assistance using the principle of self participation.

5.      We promote the creation of new working places for disabled people by installing specialised equipment, training disabled workers and their instructors.

6.      For a better integration of the disabled people we re-arrange the system of disability levels, child disability has to be diagnosed at an earliest stage possible and an appropriate rehabilitation treatment scheme applied.

7.      We improve and extend the list of services available for disabled people at a national level (i.e. personal assistants, interpreters, transport services for the disabled, assisting equipment, housing facilitating services etc).

8.      We guarantee access to an effective information and counseling system and assistance offered by local municipalities.

Youth policy

The main objective of the youth policy of the Estonian Centre Party is to create equal social, economic and educational opportunities for all the youth living in Estonia in order to help them to start a full responsible life.

Demographic and social processes have significantly changed the age structure of the population and caused the aging of the population. For this reason, the youth of today have a remarkably greater responsibility for the sustainability of our state and culture.

Both the state and local municipalities should provide full support for the education, initiative, hobby education, voluntary activities and employment perspectives of the youth. We have to reach a standard where Estonian youth reach social maturity and are ready to start an independent life a little earlier than their contemporaries in welfare states.

We want to see that Estonian society provides safe future for every youth born and living in Estonia, and as a state that provides a necessary and sufficient input to allow the youth to develop their personal qualifications in the best possible way, without experiencing rejection or feeling outcast.

Main principles of our youth policy

1.      One of the priorities of the Centre Party is to evaluate the role of the youth in society. It is necessary to support the growth of young people into responsible, active and progressive citizens today to see visible results in the future.

2.      The goal of our youth policy is to improve the coherency between diverse social groups. We consider it important to promote national and state identity and patriotism, increase tolerance and sustainability in our society and openness for international co-operation.

3.      As a part of our youth policy, we follow the principle of openness, participation, responsibility, performance and coherency acknowledged in other European countries.

4.      Youth policy is carried out in co-operation between various departments and tertiary sector and should support everything that stays outside the borders of compulsory school attendance, education and social security systems.

Youth involvement in social leadership

1.      We encourage the involvement of youth in social leadership and decision-making process in connection with youth-related issues and listen and consider their opinion. We consider it important to involve the youth in the activities of local municipalities in a more active way.

2.      We support regular youth opinion research projects concerning social issues.

3.      We guarantee free information regarding political and social processes in Estonia, Europe and elsewhere in the world using appropriate forms and channels for the youth in order to widen their picture of the world and enrich our national inheritance.

Open society and international co-operation

1.      We emphasize the importance of the spread of information regarding study and employment opportunities and student and young scholar exchange programs.

2.      We support international student and young scholar exchange programs and extensive study and trainee program opportunities in Europe and the world.

3.      We apply specific measures to involve social outcasts and children of less fortunate families in study groups, summer camps and the activities of open youth centres.

Health and work education

1.      We improve employment opportunities of the youth during school holidays and part-time employment opportunities throughout the year either by establishing student work camps or applying other possible means.

2.   We give the youth a chance to participate in voluntary activities in day care of the elderly, provision of public services in the neighbourhood, child care activities etc.

3.   We consider it very important to promote the prevention of HIV and drug abuse and other similar health-related activities, foremost the systematic development and financing of regular physical training programs and other health-promoting activities.

4.   We improve alcohol and drug abuse prevention. We are against the legalization of drugs and endeavour full prohibition of alcohol and drug-related advertisements.

 

Development of performance and sustainability

1.      We support hobby education and hobby centres.

2.      We consider it necessary to improve significantly the system of hobby education and proceed from the principle of individual approach and age suitability. It is especially important to fill the gap in hobby education for boys between the age of 10 and 17, and increase the number of technical and computer-related hobby groups.

3.      We support the activities of tertiary sector in their work with youth and actualizing youth initiative.

 

Health care policy

The condition of Estonian health care administration

The health condition of the Estonian population is worrisome. Unfortunately, health issues have been handled as the matter of an individual and not the society. Poverty and de-lamination have damaged the health of the nation, and risk behaviour has increased. Diseases are often discovered at a late stage when it is difficult or impossible to cure them. Many cannot afford necessary special medical care or medicaments.

Health care system has been reformed continuously but without proper health care policy. The formation of the health insurance fund and family doctor system has not brought about the desired goal to make medical assistance available to all. Health care has been underfinanced throughout the entire period of the independence of Estonia, and the volume of medical aid does not respond to the expectations of the society that in turn increases dissatisfaction with the health care system. Even existing funds are not always used purposefully. The network of health care institutions and service areas does not respond to the actual needs and location of the population.

Waiting time for special medical aid is unacceptably long. Health care expenditure has gone up due to growing need for emergency treatment.

Objectives and development strategies

Estonian health care system has to proceed from the principle of solidarity generally accepted in Europe that acts as a foundation for financing the health care system and guarantees an access to medical aid despite financial circumstances. Healthy people are the most important asset of Estonian society and state and a basis of existence. In order to improve the health of the people it is, first of all, necessary to improve the residential environment. The goal of state health care system is to improve the health of people, and not to gain profit. Health care policy has to rely on a widely based social agreement and independently from short-term policies.

Further development of health insurance system to ensure the improvement of people´s health, equal availability to all and compliance with the expectations of society is one of our priorities. We are open to innovative and effective solutions that help to promote a healthy lifestyle, improve people´s health and cost-effective expenditure of the resources.

Our goal is to create an environment that encourages a healthy lifestyle and promotes personal health care. We encourage individual initiative to take care of the health of one´s family by creating necessary conditions, providing information and preferential tax system.

1.      It is our priority to lower the number of accidents such as traumas, violent deaths, occupational accidents, HIV, suicides etc related to alcohol and drug abuse. For this purpose, we need to alter alcohol sales policy, set restrictions for points of sale and time, and regulate excise policy. We endeavour the prohibition of advertisements promoting alcohol use, smoking and sex services.

2.      To improve the health of people we create a system to define and minimize potential health threat caused by environmental risk factors.

3.      We guarantee necessary means for the health care system to prevent diseases.

4.      Parental education is the beginning of an early prevention of diseases. We peg the amount of childbirth allowance with parental training.

5.      In connection with family doctors and pediatrics we implement a newly qualified systematic health check as a part of school health care program. We work out and set specific measures to make school environment more health friendly to improve the performance of students and teachers.

6.      Family doctors play an important role in health promotion and disease prevention and need to have a close contact with occupational health care specialists to determine health risk factors and apply necessary means to eliminate them at an early stage.

7.      We guarantee equal medical treatment despite the place of residence. We compile hospital network development plan in accordance with actual needs for health care. The Estonian Centre Party regards it of extreme importance to determine the authority and responsibility of county hospitals in reference to the administration of primary medical aid (family doctor) and hospital treatment.

8.      We specify the rights and obligations of the state and local municipalities concerning health care administration. A regional representative institution elected by the people should have a right to speak up regarding the administration of first contact medical care. The state and local municipalities should cover the capital costs of hospitals. Local municipalities support family physicians in less inhabited the rural areas to cover the rental costs of their premises.

9.      It is our strategic goal to increase the proportion of health care expenses of GDP to a European Union average.

10.  The Centre Party stands for the compulsory health insurance coverage of all inhabitants, including permanently or temporarily non-working inhabitants, and we observe a fair distribution of health insurance tax-levy.

11.  The main purpose of Estonian Health Insurance Fund is to guarantee the financing of health care, not to work out nor shape the health care policy in Estonia. We involve more professionals in the management of Estonian Health Insurance Fund and health care institutions and organize systematic training for the leadership.

12.  It is essential to allocate state means (treatment, health care institutions, human resources) to restrain further spreading of HIV and provide adequate treatment in case of sudden AIDS explosion in the next few years. The state´s readiness to handle an HIV epidemy shows care, tolerance and sustainability.

13.  A doctor´s salary should comprise at least a double average salary in Estonia and a nurse´s salary 60% of the previously mentioned amount that provides a decent living for one´s family and rehabilitation of strength after work. We ensure the rise of nurses´ salary in correlation with the salary of the doctors. The state eliminates the student loan of a young health care professional within five years should the professional proceed his medical career in Estonia.

14.  The state has to cover the costs of medical training of the doctors in clinics. The state has to provide a stable training program for doctors in accordance with the needs of Estonia.

15.  We work out medicaments policy that supports national health care policy. We apply an efficient system to compensate for prescribed medicaments costs that improves the availability of medication and vaccine, and guarantees gradual decrease of patient participation in payment for medicaments.

16.  We provide free medicaments for children under the age of seven. We facilitate the access to medicaments in rural areas. We apply Competition Act to regulate the retail and wholesale network of medicaments.

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE POLICY

We proceed from the European educational system and Estonian historical heritage in promoting the Estonian education system. Education plays an important role in the maintenance of national identity, sustainability of the culture and sovereignty of our small society.

Estonian society needs high standard general education, secondary education-related vocational education, qualified higher education and scientific research carried out in international co-operation.

A high number of school drop-outs and insufficient education success are main problems in the education sphere that are highly related to general social issues and school immaturity of the students. There is also a need for an improved monitoring for educational demands and school research. Present propositional weight of education expenses from the state budget does not guarantee sufficient income for teachers, sufficient means for school maintenance and contemporary study materials, nor does it support general competitiveness of Estonian youth in the European or international labour market.

Disproportionality in vocational and secondary education programs has created problems for the graduates to compete on the labour market and led to poor performance in gymnasium. There is an uneven network of universities across the country and the quality of higher education provided by different universities. The standard of scientific research is insufficient or totally absent in some vitally important fields. Social reputation of a teacher´s profession is rather low, and as the average age of teachers is quite high, there is a need for young professionals, their professional skills need to be brought to the same standard and the evaluation system of in-service training updated.

One of the reasons for unemployment and falling living standards may be an insufficient number of adults involved in a lifelong learning process.

Assuring children´s health and ability to learn

It is necessary to take notice of a child´s health and ability to learn at an early age and study their needs and special features. It requires the application of following state funded measures:

1.      We create the office of children psychologists in every county and speech therapists in every parish whose salary is equivalent to the one of a teacher.

2.      We create a system for the work of social teachers – social workers – child protection officers in educational institutions to ensure that social problem of a child are noticed at an early age and necessary treatment applied.

3.      We extend the network of boarding school facilities to relieve social hindrances and create new opportunities to study both at general and secondary education level.

4.      We create favourable conditions for all children in kindergartens or pre-school classes to achieve school maturity.

5.      We support training courses, counselling and support network that help parents (caregivers) to notice and prevent possible learning difficulties of their children.

6.      We guarantee free learning materials, catering and transportation in kindergarten and primary school, and free learning materials and school lunch in elementary school.

7.      We guarantee qualified health education in elementary school, and create a support and treatment network for addicts.

Educational demand and development system

1.      We initiate national education and school research program. We establish an institution that is specialised in school research, and deals with the development of study programmes, study methodology, education economics, organization of study and organizational development of schools.

2.      We rearrange study programmes to ensure subject integration and set standards for each subject.

3.      We apply preference development programme for mother language and literature and provide foreign language study in language groups; we promote the learning of foreign languages from second grade with the purpose of obtaining communication skills in two foreign languages by the end of the elementary school.

4.      We re-establish career advice program for elementary school students and create a pre-vocational training system.

5.      We guarantee information technology support structure for educational institutions in whatever area in Estonia. We provide free access to the internet for the students of secondary and vocational schools, and develop e-training at every school level.

6.      We employ teacher assistants to provide additional tuition for students with learning difficulties in basic subjects by allocating state´s means for individual lessons.

Adequate study programmes

Students with special needs should be involved in regular classes as much as possible and talented students should be given opportunities for advanced studies.

1.      We implement flexible individual study programmes and short-term support programmes for children with special needs that allow them be transferred from one study programme to another (incl. children and youth studying at specialized schools and penal institutions).

2.      We involve youth alternative service in offering support services for children with special needs; we allocate state measures to produce specific teaching aids for children with special needs.

3.      We create networks of professionals (teachers, social workers, psychologists, doctors) at local municipality level to improve youth surveillance and provide mentoring services to prevent school dropouts.

4.      We provide state financing for the equipment of specialized classrooms and schools to in order to provide study opportunities for talented children.

Vocational studies and upper secondary education

1.      We equally value vocational studies and upper secondary education. Upper secondary education has to be differentiated to provide a choice in accordance with the career interest of the students.

2.      We re-organize educational system and study programmes in order to provide flexible tuition in accordance with current labour market demand.

3.      We divide secondary education into upper secondary and general secondary education. We integrate general secondary education and vocational training taking into account labour market demand and the specifics of Estonian economy.

4.      We develop the network of vocational schools in the Republic of Estonia in accordance with regional differences and work market demand forecasts.

5.      We increase significantly the role of employers in vocational training to forecast labour market demand, design study processes, advise on study programmes, and develop study and training facilities.

6.      We implement a flexible vocational training programme that allows students to obtain either a vocational training without general secondary education, or vocational secondary education, or applied higher education, or upper secondary education in order to pursue higher education. We provide vocational training as a full-time or part-time study or distance learning.

7.      We provide state financing for preparation programmes for vocational qualification exams.

8.      We allocate means for vocational schools to offer retraining for adults in accordance with labour market demand.

Higher education

1.      We reorganize the network of higher education institutions based on scientific research and quality of education and limit the activities of worst-performing universities.

2.      We level up the quality and evaluation criteria of scientific research and education.

3.      We support the establishment of university networks, promote international student exchange and international inter-university co-operation projects.

4.      We guarantee state financing of the field of national studies (that cannot be entirely outsourced from foreign universities) as of unique and significant importance for the development of national education.

5.      We provide a new generation of young lecturers and scientists, and guarantee sufficient state order for education both in bachelor, masters and doctoral studies in accordance to state demand.

6.      We pay more attention to student scientific research and scientific projects that require student participation.

7.      We revise the public procurement for training and education and bring it into accordance with the actual needs of society.

Teacher

1.      Teacher´s work deserves to receive higher appreciation. We harmonise the standards of teacher´s training at all universities and re-establish the system of in-service complementary training for teachers.

2.      We synchronize the programmes of teacher´s training and traineeship.

3.      We establish a support program for young teachers, re-establish professional topic-based mentoring and make national complementary training available for all teachers.

4.      We implement teacher´s health and rehabilitation program that allows teachers to take a semester leave every five years with the purpose of self-education and rehabilitation.

5.      We guarantee a national minimum salary for general education and pre-school institutions based on the average salary of the state, and teacher´s seniority in the office and qualifications.

Hobby activities

Properly organized hobby activities allow children and youth to develop their talents and healthy life style, and prevent the development of antisocial behaviour models.

1.      We support state-financed hobby education (sports, arts, music, technics, IT-related studies etc) and promote the activities of regional youth centres and choir, school orchestra, folk dance and school theatre groups.

2.      We implement state-financed programmes to develop hobby education especially for boys such as technical sports, technics and sports activities in general.

Russian-language based general education and vocation schools

1.      We integrate Russian-language general education and vocational schools into Estonian educational system and promote an extensive language and culture-related training through state-financed Sunday schools.

2.      We guarantee the retention of Russian-language general education and vocational training, and provide Russian schools with study programmes compiled here in Estonia, the vocational and complementary training of teachers, and further updated study programmes.

3.      We guarantee state support for Sunday schools that provide language and culture-related training.

Adult education

Further development of adult education and life-long learning improves the education level and competitiveness of the entire population.

1.      We support the reformation of vocational schools into institutions that offer complementary training, re-training and counselling services.

2.      We promote the activities of tertiary sector in the field of education and training, develop the network of folk high schools, and provide state support for institutions that offer second-chance learning general education programs.

3.      We create a network of school evaluation system that is based on the improvement of qualifications and re-training.

4.      We involve various media channels and increase the number of educational programs, lectures, publications etc broadcasted and published in the media.

Science policy

Estoniahas been rather modest when it comes to shaping our science policy. There is a lack of transparency in financing principles and basis for evaluation. In many cases, planning takes place based on the historical record that is not necessarily in correlation with the actual needs of Estonian society and financial means. There is no reliable evaluation system.

We need to apply following principles in regard to science policy:

1.      Estonian science is a living part of European science. Estonian university science has to reach a standard that allows our scientists to participate in European scientific research network.

2.      Based on financial opportunities provided by the state, we support priority development of universities that have developed a stronger scientific research base and scientific centres.

3.      We prepare and apply a national university act in order to guarantee the research and teaching of national studies at a scientific level, and competitiveness in European scientific sphere.

4.      We improve the administration of the support structure of science. Science management assumes that scientific methodology (vorsight, scientometric databases) have been developed and applied.

5.      We support Estonian scientists´ participation in international scientific projects, programs and co-operation networks.

6.      We try to avoid any standstills that may hinder necessary progress of information technology vitally important for any scientific research.

7.      We promote international student and scholar work and study exchange in foreign universities and research centres. We support the establishment and development of mobile research centres.

8.      We increase the volume of social and applied science research to create better solutions for the management of state power structures. The development processes of educational, social, ecological, juridical and state defence sphere have to rely on the outcome of scientific research more than before.

9.      We consider it of high importance to develop national studies such as the Estonian language, history, ethnology, archaeology, national arts. Estonian language is an important collateral for the national development and sustainability of the nation and culture.

Cultural policy

Estonian people have developed their own identity that is expressed in our language and culture, customs, traditions, and understanding of freedom and responsibility. Those values should be protected and kept by the state. Vigorous cultural life is a collateral for the vitality and sustainability of our nation. National culture hides our cultural and historical memory, and the knowledge and skills of our ancestors. It is our duty to maintain it.

National culture

1.      We develop a long-term program to maintain Estonian national culture and provide activity support to training programs that promote national culture and activities related to choir singing, national dances and handicraft.

2.      We promote national values that value Estonian language and guarantee its sustainability and equal status in the European Union in relation to the other EU languages.

3.      We guarantee the sustainability and further development of song and dance festivals.

4.      We strengthen the institution of heritage conservation and the maintenance and restoration of objects under heritage conservation, including restoration programs in cooperation with local municipalities.

5.      We continue to establish information offices and public internet points in local libraries and create a necessary information technology base.

6.      We integrate contemporary information technology solutions and attractive computer-based programs for national culture training and introduction.

7.      We guarantee equal opportunities for all people´s groups to promote national culture and a freedom to integrate into Estonian culture.

8.      We value and recognize the work of carriers and keepers of culture and strengthen the system of professional training.

9.      We promote the development of ethnically unique regions in Estonia and the traditions, language and culture of small people´s groups.

Professional culture

Estonian Centre Party considers it important to provide following support for the maintenance of professional culture:

1.      We guarantee continuous state support for culture and support the promotion of Estonian culture through various theatre and music festivals, and art events in the world.

2.      We promote the self-actualization of musicians and artists, and increase opportunities for creational and self-development and participation in international training programs.

3.      We support and develop the network of children´s art and music schools.

4.      We develop an optimized network of cultural institutions (theatres, concert halls, museums etc) and guarantee their maintenance.

Physical education and sports

Physical education and sports play an important role in today´s stressful society where many suffer from lack of physical activity to maintain people´s health and quality of life. Physical activities need to take place on the basis of mass sport events. Youth should develop an interest in sports in order to be of good health as well as access top level sport if desired. Adult recreational sport should play a vital role in sickness prevention. In order to develop physical education and sports in general it is important:

1.      To implement a long-term development program for health sports and top level sports.

2.      To update the training system of physical education teachers, coaches and recreation specialists.

3.      Increase the volume of state support for health sports.

4.      To find better organizational and economic means to provide better training opportunities for talented youth.

5.      To find co-operation opportunities with local municipalities and tertiary sector to extend the network of sports facilities and determine a better location for new facilities. Develop and develop a long-term program for sports facilities necessary for the state.

6.      To improve the system of remuneration of sports personnel to maintain their motivation to work.

7.      To create a valorization system for top level sportsmen (moral and material life-time support for world champions and olympic medal winners).

8.      To create a national support program for handicapped sports that provides training facilities for  handicapped people and allows them to participate in various competitions both at state and international level.

 

 

Media policy

A prerequisite of a democratic society is democratic journalism. It is ideal to have an open field of information and opinion that allows to find best solutions through an open discussion, compromise and public agreement. In a democratic country, media shares at least three tasks:

1.      In a large scale, it expresses the interests, information and understandings of various society groups. It regards entertainment and arts, deals with history and culture from different viewpoints and exchanges experience.

2.      Media offers independent information and acts as the „watchdog!“ of freedom, free media is at the public service and serves public interest.

3.      Guarantees the development of society through an honest agreement born due to pressure from interest groups.

Estonian media is far from what is considered to be ideal. The interest of many society groups have not been represented in the media and many publications are biased. It hinders an honest competition, diminishes the effectiveness of the power and the responsibility of politicians for their electors.

Media concentration is the main threat of the freedom of speech and multiple information. Media is accountable to its foreign owners but not to the readers-viewers – Estonian citizens. It is contradicting the tradition of democratic journalism and the interests of Estonian society.

There is only one news agency in Estonia. Radio and television news are largely from the same news agency. A great number of the news published in newspapers are issued by the same previously mentioned news agency.

1.      We consider it important to protect the freedom of speech, multiple information and diversity of opinion. We have a stand that media should develop without state interference. Still, the state has a responsibility to guarantee the presence of as many media enterprises as possible in the market that enlivens competitions and gives a wider choice for the consumers.

2.      In order to avoid media concentration and promote competition, it is necessary to pass a media ownership act that regulates ownership to no more than one third of the national and local newspaper market or television station.

3.      In order to implement the media ownership act, it is important to guarantee the transparency of media ownership. For this purpose, it is necessary to impose requirements to disclose the balance sheet, sources of income, the share- or unit-holders of the incorporated media enterprises and their equity participation, and inform the authorities of any major changes in equity participation.

NATIONAL AND INTEGRATION POLICY

In our national policy, we proceed from the fact that the territory of the Republic of Estonia is the only place in the world where Estonians are the indigenous people and have an inalienable right for sustainable living and development. The turbulent history of 20th century hurled millions of people far away from their homelands. Integration problems of today are due to our historical background. We support the resettlement and residence of people of Estonian origin to Estonia. Estonian citizenship should be granted them under favourable conditions.

Integration policy

The task of the state of Estonia in the area of national policy and integration is to create conditions for a dignified living and support native Estonians elsewhere in the world.

The national policy of Estonia is built on the integration of non-Estonian population. As a result, the Estonian language skills of non-Estonian population, and coping in the society has improved and the number of conflicts on national relations has decreased. Estonian society has become more tolerant and favours pragmatic solutions.

Regrettably, there remains a problem of rejection and secondary importance of minorities. The minorities are under-represented in the government, the Riigikogu, local governments and public sector. Non-Estonian highly qualified professionals suffer from structural unemployment. The rate of non-citizens of the total of population is unnaturally high. Estonian and Russian communities continue to function separately. Uncertainty regarding the future paralyzes the work of Russian-language schools. Russian-language schools fail to achieve their task to prepare their graduates for successful independent life.

Social rejection facilitates the spreading of criminal activities, drug abuse, AIDS, tuberculosis, alcoholism and prostitution in the above mentioned stratum.

Estonian Centre Party considers it necessary to apply following measures to solve national issues in Estonia:

1.      To convert present one-sided and often rather formal integration policy into a systematic movement that involves the entire society. It is needful to involve various government departments and ministries, i.e. ministries of social affairs, economic affairs and communications, regional affairs, justice, agricultural affairs etc as well as private sector and tertiary sector.

2.      To implement preventive legislation against ethnic and racial harassment and initiate its control system (ombudsman, supervisory officials, court) to guarantee equal treatment of non-Estonian nationals in work life, social sphere, education, public services and goods, and ensure their safe and dignified treatment.

3.      To implement a state program in order to prevent future cases of rejection and harassment and provide professional help for those in need.

4.      To initiate socioeconomic programs in order to create new working places, reduce unemployment, improve the quality of education offered in the Russian language and create a favourable environment for minorities to guarantee their equal position in comparison with the Estonians.

5.      To implement training programs that help to alter the attitude and stereotypes of civil servants, politicians and employers etc. and shape value system and behavioural standards that encourage increasing tolerance.

6.      To guarantee systematic information and social research to back up the policy of minorities.

7.      The decision to carry out the school reform of 2007 unamended at any cost would have a negative effect on the entire Estonian society. Additional tasks imposed on schools offering education in the Russian language need appropriate financial support. The responsibility of Russian-language schools to offer education at a competitive level would reduce tension among Russian youth and their parents and set a positive surrounding for the further career of Russian speaking youth in Estonia.

Support of compatriots living outside of Estonia

Historical events that took place in the last century have forced a large number of Estonians to leave their homeland. Approximately one fifth of the population has lived outside its historic place of origin. A great number of those has suffered from national persecution, displacement policy and repressions, or been separated from their historic homeland by violence. A part of them find it difficult to return to the land of their ancestors either due to the careless and standoffish attitude of the society, or lack of financial means, or insurmountable bureaucratic hindrances. Estonian schools and culture societies suffer from lack of qualified personnel and limited resources. Archives are in danger of being left without a mastered. Contacts with their homeland are often rare. Estonian state has taken a vague advantage of the chances to introduce its culture and state by the help of foreign Estonians.

We share a stand that Estonia has to provide multiple support for the preservation of the Estonian language and culture and development outside the borders of its (ethnic) country of origin.

Estonian Centre Party considers it necessary to apply following measures for the protection of Estonians whose place of residence is outside of Estonia and their native culture.

1.      We develop a national program to support Estonians who wish to relocate to their native homeland and integrate in the society, as well as young families of Estonian nationality who wish to relocate to Estonia.

2.      We develop state scholarships program for the children of expatriates to obtain education or continuing training in their historical homeland, and for young Estonian professionals to work in Estonian institutions abroad.

3.      We support the activities of Estonian societies of education and culture, schools and periodical publication abroad.

4.      We implement a program to preserve Estonian cultural legacy, historical research and safekeeping of national history, and maintenance of archives abroad and preservation of archival repositories in Estonia if necessary.

5.      We consider it necessary to apply improved national actions and increased allocated financial instruments in order to offer the tuition and development of Estonian language in schools where tuition is offered in another language as well as foreign universities and research centres.

ENVIROMENTAL POLICY

The welfare of human beings depends on ecological resources, wholeness of ecosystems and life-supporting natural systems.

The protection of environment and the preservation of nature are closely linked to every area of the society. It is not possible to apply the environmental policy selectively in a narrow field, area or leave alone a single state. The priority of ecological security is to preserve people´s health, environmental safety and a balanced use of natural resources as well as minimize the risk of cross-border pollution. For this reason, it is necessary to meet commitments imposed by national legislation, international conventions and bilateral or multilateral agreements unconditionally. One should not destroy the chances of future generations in order to satisfy present needs. Unfortunately, the progress of the state of Estonia during the past fifteen years has taken place at the cost of social and ecological resources.

Estonialacks the strategy and activity plan of environmental education. The environment is endangered by the threats caused by the uncontrolled use of chemicals during production processes. Public health is endangered by polluted food products. The weight and total area of high-standard recreational landscape is decreasing. Unthoughtful exploitation of forests threatens the fulfilment of ecological and social functions of forest covered areas, as the regrowth of forest advances slowly due to the low quality of cutting, in privately owned forests only one tenth of clearcut areas have been replanted with new trees.

The Centre Party considers it necessary to apply following measures:

1.      We develop a system to identify environmental threats and minimize health risks in order to improve public health.

2.      We improve environmental education of children and adults. We integrate environmental studies in all of the curricula of universities.

3.      We implement a certified handling system and logistics service for the producers of naturally pure and biologically active food products. By the help of the state, we develop a development centre of organic farming which consists of independent experts and enthusiasts. To win the trust of the consumers of organic products we develop and apply measures against the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture in Estonia.

4.      We predispose the production based on scientific expertise, low raw material costs and low environmental impact and the use of environment friendly materials, and proceeds from the principle of reusable materials and renewable energy.

5.      The goal of our forest policy is the sustainable use of forests that guarantees a biological variety, yield, vitality and renewable resources now and in the future.

6.      In order to protect the natural environment and public health and guarantee a balanced development, it is important to reach a point where chemicals are produced and used in a way that affects public health and environment the least.

7.      We promote the use of national programmes for the development and maintenance of land and landscape. We continue the further development and protection of the network of natural reserves. We regulate the use of coastal areas proceeding from the principle of uniformity and equality of treatment. We guarantee everyman´s right to access the seashore and other bodies of water and beautiful natural areas. We maintain and further develop the network of Estonian nature reserves.