Over 10,000 people gathered to Paide last weekend to participate in one of the most significant annual civil society events taking place in Estonia, the Festival of Opinion Culture.
Local opinion leaders, artists and intellectuals mingled freely with a diverse crowd from across the country – over 200 debates in 36 discussion areas provided a fertile ground for new ideas and thinking, all set in the picturesque vicinity of Paide Castle.
Although the festival provided a venue for hundreds of different organizations, Estonian major media outlets, and at times, political parties, seemed to pull most of the spectators at their debates.
The topics varied but the political debate had a special spotlight on refugee and immigration question and on how to deal with hate speech in the society. The thoughts are too many to list, but few stood out, such as the idea that emphasizing the dominance of Christian cultural sphere in connection to Europe or Estonia in this matter is not accurate – one should call it an “Enlightened Europe” instead.
Openness of the society was also discussed at the final debate of the festival, which included all six leaders of the Estonian parties currently in the parliament – Kadri Simson stood in for Edgar Savisaar. The leaders were asked what Estonia should look like in 2040 and tolerant and open-minded were some of the keywords, as were the hopes that the population will grow, the country will remain independent, with its own language and culture and high living quality.
Many other topics were discussed, such as Estonian e-state, sustainable and green economies, urban space, integrating ethnic Russians and regional security.