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Cablegate: Estonia: Embassy's Efforts to Promote Racial


DE RUEHTL #0578/01 1671453
R 161453Z JUN 06





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) Summary: Discussion in Estonia about tolerance
and integration has focused mainly on the cultural and
linguistic divide between the Estonian and Russian
communities. Looking forward, the GOE intends to
broaden its Integration Action Plan to include
initiatives designed to address integration of new, and
non-European, arrivals. The timing is auspicious. In
the wake of several racially-motivated incidents
involving Embassy staff and the wider diplomatic
community, on March 2 the Ambassador initiated a
Tolerance Action Plan to raise awareness and sensitivity
with GOE officials, law enforcement, academics, NGOs,
and with the Estonian public. On June 6 the issue
gained prominence when Dutch Ambassador Hans Glaubitz
reported to the press that he was leaving Estonia due to
racist and homophobic incidents against his African-
Cuban partner. End Summary.


2. (U) While Estonia's minority population (of non-
European descent) is tiny, membership in the EU, rapid
economic growth, growing tourism, and declining
birthrates will increase immigration pressure and
potentially lead to an increase in the number of racial
minorities (i.e., foreign workers, students, tourists,
immigrants, etc.). Reported racially-motivated
incidents have been relatively limited in number to
date, and law enforcement officials tell us that there
is no evidence of a statistical spike. However, over
the past year there have been six incidents of U.S.
nationals being racially harassed and/or intimidated.
Anecdotal evidence from members of the wider diplomatic
community, foreign tourists, students, and business
people also indicate that challenges may lie ahead.

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3. (SBU) On Feb 21, the European Commission against
Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) report on Estonia made a
number of recommendations to improve the atmosphere for
tolerance. The report has been criticized in some
quarters for having been poorly sourced and based on
incomplete information. However, ECRI made a number of
recommendations and observations with which we agree:

- Estonia has no hate crime specific legislation, and
Estonian prosecution of hate crimes has not been
aggressive. Punishment for first-time offenders is
particularly lax.

- More efforts must be made in awareness-raising to
ensure that law enforcement officials and victims of
race hate crimes are aware of appropriate provisions of
the Criminal Code allowing for prosecution of hate

- Estonian authorities ought to add the teaching of the
benefits of diversity and living in a multicultural
society in school programs.

- Estonian authorities need to provide support for the
Press Council of Estonia and the Estonian Newspaper
Association for training journalists on issues related
to racism and racial discrimination.

- More training is needed for law enforcement on issues
related to racism and racial discrimination.


4. (U) In March the Ambassador initiated a Mission
Tolerance Action Plan to begin a conversation with our
Estonian interlocutors on tolerance issues. The
initiative is based on the premise that it is far better
for Estonia to tackle this problem while it is fairly
limited than to try to address it later when it may be
more entrenched. Our strategy has been to share both
positive and negative experiences from one of the
world's most diverse nations, rather than provide a
preachy laundry list of what Estonia must do to fix the
problem. We believe the approach has been appreciated,
and, given the positive reception from GOE officials,
NGOs, and Estonian civil society, is hitting its mark.

5. (U) To date the Embassy has organized the following
series of events and activities, specifically targeting

GOE officials, local government officials, educators,
NGOs, law enforcement, students, and young people in
order to raise the level of awareness, sensitivity, and
understanding of tolerance issues. Additional events are
being planned for the coming months.

- On April 18 Post hosted a DVC between the Southern
Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Estonian working-level
government officials (national and local) and NGOs to
discuss promoting tolerance in education and sharing
best practices. The Estonian participants found the
SPLC's relationship with local government and law
enforcement very informative, and the SPLC has promised
to share its latest tolerance material for use and
adaptation by Estonian officials.

- A recently-returned ILVP recipient (February/March),
Ken Koort, Advisor to Minister of Population and
Migration Paul Eerik-Rummo, wrote an article on May 20
based on his experience in the U.S. for one of Estonia's
leading Russian dailies. Koort praised U.S.
multiculturalism and reflected on what Estonia could
learn from U.S. diversity.

- Supervisor Special Agent (SSA) Stan Strauss, FBI Civil
Rights Unit (CRU), offered a presentation on U.S. hate-
crime legislation, enforcement, and investigation to
Estonia's Public Service Academy on May 30. SSA Strauss
spoke to an audience of MFA officials, law enforcement,
and Public Service Academy instructors. He explained
how hate crime specific legislation has aided the FBI's
work, and stressed that Estonia need not make the same
mistake U.S. and other European countries had made by
waiting until the problem became bigger before acting.

- The Ambassador and Embassy staff participated in a
panel discussion entitled "Cultural Diversity: Dialogue
or Conflict?" as part of a conference on Estonian
minorities on June 2. The Ambassador spoke on the U.S.
perspective and experience in promoting racial tolerance
and diversity, and a diverse group of Embassy staff
provided views on the theme. The message was positively
received and followed by a lengthy discussion on the
challenges facing Estonia in dealing with its current
minorities. Molodjozh Estonii, Estonia's leading
Russian-language paper, praised the Ambassador for
promoting diversity in Estonia. The Ambassador's speech
will be turned into an OpEd for future publication in an
Estonian-language paper in order to reach the broadest
possible audience.

- During a six-week exchange program in April and May,
visiting Fulbright School Administrator Gale Frazier
helped to increase racial sensitivity and awareness
among Estonian youth. Frazier, an African-American
Director of Education at a private school in Chicago,
spoke to at least 500 students at more than ten schools.
In many cases, Frazier was both the first American and
the first person of African origin the students had ever
met. Frazier's charismatic talks introduced children to
cultural differences between the United States and
Estonia, including the racial diversity common in U.S.
schools. Her talks generated both national and local
press coverage ranging from Postimees, Estonia's paper
of record, to Sakala, a leading regional paper from
Estonia's heartland.

- With special funding secured from State/EUR, the
Embassy is providing $4,000 for the Tartu Black Nights
Film Festival to screen U.S. films on the theme of
cultural and racial tolerance. We hope that this film
festival -- run by Estonians for Estonians -- will help
generate widespread public discussion on the issues of
tolerance and diversity.

- Embassy has requested DS/IP (reftel) to provide for
Estonian audiences the "Racially Motivated Violence" seminar
presented by Chuck Hunter in Riga in January 2006. RSO
is also regularly in contact with the wider diplomatic
community and the police to remain engaged on this


6. (SBU) On May 30 the Ambassador hosted a private lunch
for Minister of Population and Ethnic Affairs and
presidential candidate Paul-Eerik Rummo, Minister of
Internal Affairs Kalle Lannet, MP Mart Nutt, Minister

Rummo's advisor Ken Koort and SSA Stan Strauss to
discuss our tolerance awareness activities and the
conclusions from these events. The Ambassador spoke at
length on the need for Estonia to begin to think beyond
the traditional and historical Estonian/Russian
community dichotomy in light of anecdotal evidence of
recent incidents against racial minorities.

7. (SBU) The Estonians agreed that with a declining
birthrate and booming economy, Estonia is likely to face
increasing immigration pressure and a more multicultural
society. With this in mind Minister Rummo said the GOE
will broaden the next Integration Action Plan to reach
out to new immigrants. In the meantime, Minister Lannet
said the Estonian police and security force were
grateful for the information Post has provided
concerning racially motivated incidents involving U.S.
nationals. Given the small population, Lannet noted
that it only took a small number of agitators to create
a disproportionate amount of trouble and attention.
(KAPO, the Estonian security police, estimates there are
100 active skinheads in Estonia, with approximately half
residing in Tallinn.) Even a few incidents can create a
perception of a much larger racial problem, and can
impact the economy, especially tourism and foreign

8. (SBU) MP Nutt, Estonia's representative on the
European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance,
noted that whatever problem existed was undoubtedly
exacerbated by Estonia's larger problem with alcoholism.
Most of the instigators of racial incidents were drunk
at the time, he said. Minister Rummo directed blame to
local government leaders who have been far too passive
on integration and tolerance promotion issues. Even on
the Russian-Estonian divide, local leaders have spent
little political capital to create bridges between
parallel communities through schools, community
activities, etc. It was, therefore, not surprising for
Minister Rummo that tackling racial intolerance is not
even on most local governments' radar screens.

9. (SBU) There was general agreement that while reported
racial incidents are relatively limited and non-violent
in nature, building sensitivity and awareness among the
population is a long-term process. As the Estonian
police are already struggling to maintain the necessary
number of officers to operate sufficiently (as many
officers leave the force for better paying jobs in the
private sector in Estonia or abroad), it is difficult to
adequately train and sensitize their police on hate
crime and tolerance issues.


10. (U) On June 6 the Dutch Ambassador to Estonia, Hans
Glaubitz, informed the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad
that he was curtailing his tour, complaining of
persistent and racist homophobic abuse. Glaubitz said
that though he and his partner, an African-Cuban man,
were well received by GOE officials, they were regularly
insulted when out in public. Glaubitz said on behalf of
his partner, "It is not very nice to be regularly abused
by drunken skinheads as a 'nigger' and to be
continuously gawped at as if you have just stepped out
of a UFO." Glaubitz's statement has not only featured
prominently in Estonian papers, but has also been picked
up by international news organizations, thereby
provoking considerable public debate within Estonia on
the topic of racism and homophobia.

11. (U) In the wake of Glaubitz's announcement, several
media (Estonian and international) have contacted the
Embassy for comment (in part because Glaubitz made
reference to an inter-Embassy security-related email
citing incidents of harassment against and/or witnessed
by U.S. Embassy employees). The Embassy spokesman used
these requests as an opportunity to say that although
reported racial incidents in Estonia are relatively few
in number, it is important for there to be constructive
and open dialog on the issue before it becomes a larger

12. (U) The international media coverage has clearly
embarrassed the GOE and the general public, creating a
backlash among some Estonian public figures who have
started questioning Glaubitz's claim. The MFA has
consistently denied it received information on

Glaubitz"s problems (either from the Glaubitz or the
Dutch Embassy) prior to the announcement. Moreover,
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet claimed that Dutch Foreign
Minister Bernard Bot expressed regret over the whole
affair and said Glaubitz"s action was "not a wise thing
to do." Meanwhile, the Estonian Parliament on June 15
passed an amendment to the Penal Code that will penalize
incitement of "hatred, violence or discrimination" based
on sexual orientation. (The existing law provides
protection on the basis of nationality, race, color,
sex, language, origin, religion, political opinion,
financial and social status.)


13. (SBU) The controversy over Glaubitz's departure has
catapulted the issue of tolerance in Estonia to the
forefront. It is unfortunate that Glaubitz's departure
is becoming more the focus of the story rather than the
larger tolerance issues, leading some Estonian
newspapers to grouse that Estonians do not deserve this
"smear" on their reputation. MFA officials have also
relayed to us their dismay and disappointment with
Glaubitz's actions, but have been consistently positive
on the Embassy's reporting of racially motivated
incidents and Embassy-sponsored activities. We believe
that our approach of sharing rather than lecturing is
helping to create an open and frank dialogue with the
Estonians on this important issue.


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