Democracy is like the air we breathe: we tend to remain unaware of it in our day-to-day lives, but as soon as it is removed we are all gradually paralysed by it. Today democracy is no longer defined purely in classical terms of majority rule, but as a defender of freedoms and values. It can only remain viable and continue to develop if the freedom of the media and of expression and the independence of the courts and civic society are defended. But who defends democracy that values freedoms, and how can each of us contribute to its defence? Classical representative democracy, in which people vote in elections, is no longer enough. The occasion of Estonia’s centenary is a welcome – and timely – juncture at which to recall the words of President Lennart Meri, who said that democracy, in its exactingness, must undergo a rebirth every single day.
On the Democracy stage at the Opinion Festival we will be working together to look for opportunities and specific ways of renewing governance culture and what it means to be a citizen.
The Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia invites everyone to attend the following discussions, which will be held in English:
- 14:00 ‘Are the Nordic countries still a role model for Estonians?’ | Discussing this topic will be Kirsti Narinen (Finnish ambassador to Estonia), Taavi Rõivas (MP and former Prime Minister of Estonia) and Kai Klandorf (CEO, Estonian Non-profit Organisations), moderated by Christer Haglund (Director, NCM Office in Estonia).
- 16:00 ‘From cowboy capitalism to values-based entrepreneurship’ | Discussing this topic will be Kati Ihamäki (VP, sustainable Development, Finnair), Maria Wetterstrand (MP and spokesperson for the Swedish Green Party 2002-2011) and Raul Lättemägi (the owner of AS Advanced Sports Installations Europe), moderated by Annika Arras (Miltton Nordics).
- 16:00 ‘European Capital of Culture 2024 – who for and why?’ | Discussing this topic will be Suvi Innilä (Turku 2011 Programme Manager, Finland), Ib Christensen (Aarhus 2017, LG Head of Culture Department), Helen Sildna (Narva 2024) and Berk Vaher (Tartu 2024), moderated by Laur Kaunissaare (Tallinn 2011 Programme Coordinator, Theatre No99 dramatist).
Starting in 2018 the Opinion Festival forms part of the new network of Democracy Festivals, which takes in eight such festivals in the Nordic countries and Baltic States: Almedalsveckan (Sweden), SuomiAreena (Finland), Lampa (Latvia), Fundur Fólksins (Iceland; Lysa from 2018), Arendalsuka (Norway), Folkemødet (Denmark) and Būtent! (Lithuania). The network aims to contribute to stronger participatory democracy around the world and to offer opportunities to learn from best practice.