Saturday, July 16, 2016

Russians May Learn Estonian and Become Estonian Citizens but Still Remain Very Much Apart, New Estonian-Dutch Study Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 17 – Many analysts conclude that if ethnic Russians living in non-Russian countries learn the local language and even become citizens of it that this represents the completion of the task of integration, but in fact, a new study shows, they may, despite such steps, remain separate in terms of residence patterns from the titular majority.

            Indeed, the study suggests, these incompletely integrated people may come to pose new challenges for these countries because they have the skills and the opportunity to compete with representatives of the titular nationality, a group which they still do not feel themselves to be completely part of.

            Tiit Tammaru, a professor of urban geography at the University of Tartu, and one of the co-directors of this study, says that “the traditional measures of integration show us a beautiful trend” in Estonia. “Russian-speaking young people speak Estonian ever better and ever more frequently choose Estonian citizenship," but they continue to live in separate neighborhoods and thus in what he calls “parallel worlds.”

            According to Tammaru, a comparison of census data from 2000 and 2011 shows “the difference between the places where Estonians and Russians live is growing very rapidly. Estonians are the more mobile of the too, and Russians continue to settle in those areas of cities where ethnic Russians have traditionally lived.

            The Tartu geographer argues that such “growing segregation can present a danger and lead to serious problems,” as has been the case in several large European cities where immigrants have engaged in various kinds of protests even after learning the national language and in some cases becoming citizens of those countries.

            That is because, Tammaru argues, all such risings “are always connected with some specific place or other,” especially those where members of these groups form the majority at the expense of the titular nation.

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