Dear members of the Round Table of Nationalities,
ladies and gentlemen, dear friends.
It sometimes seems to me that some pieces of folk wisdom are not wisdom at all – for instance, the saying that “silence is golden”.
I know this is mainly said to discourage pointless prattling. But sometimes it seems that it is taken too literally. It appears that some topics are embarrassing, or at least awkward, and silence is favoured to discussion.
One of these subjects is the relations between different nationalities in Estonia, or to put it more precisely, our ability and desire to bring out the best in all of our fellow countrymen.
Unfortunately, to this point we have not been too successful in developing a frank discussion about the obstacles that keep us from making maximum use of our combined potential.
The discourse on interethnic relations has been marked by too little rationality. The vacuum has been filled by emotions, fears and stereotypes; sometimes various sociological studies have been interpreted to serve a specific purpose.
All this has prevented us from making progress in our discussions.
For that reason, I hope that the Round Table of Nationalities convened by the Estonian Cooperation Assembly does not repeat the mistakes of the past.