Estonia’s place among Nordic countries discussed at international conference

Tomorrow, on 23 August the conference “Estonia AND the Nordic countries—Estonia AS a Nordic country?”, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Estonia’s re-independence, takes place at the Art Museum of Estonia. The conference focuses on the narrative of Estonia as a Nordic country, its historical background and real perspectives. Authors of the best works of the preceding essay and photography contest on the same topic will also be awarded at the conference. The patron of the contests is President of the Republic Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

The main organiser of the conference, Head of UT Centre for Ethics Margit Sutrop said that the comparison with Nordic countries should help Estonians understand better what kind of society we wish to live in and how far we are today from the goal set by many Estonian top politicians—becoming a Nordic country: “In the panel discussion following the presentations we will discuss with researchers and politicians what should be done so that Estonians would be happier in their home country. We will ask what we can learn from the Nordic countries: which examples to follow and which developments to avoid.”

Researchers from Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark will participate in the conference. Professor Stein Kuhnle of the University of Bergen will discuss the shaping of the Nordic identity in historical context. Mart Kuldkepp of the University of London will give an overview of how the idea of Estonia as a Nordic country has come to be and what are its historical roots.

The similarities and differences between the values of Nordic countries and Estonia will be analysed by Professor Bi Puranen of the World Values Survey Association and the Institute for Future Studies in Sweden and Professor Anu Realo of the University of Tartu and the University of Warwick.

Meik Wiking of the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark will describe how to measure happiness and how happiness is used as an indicator of process in politics. He will also analyse why Nordic countries are doing so well in world happiness rankings.

The newly elected UT Professor of Liberal Arts and writer Valdur Mikita will reflect on Estonians’ sense of nature and its specialties compared to other nations.

The day will end with a panel discussion which focuses on matters of personal happiness and societal well-being in the shared Nordic-Baltic region. Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand, Minister of Social Protection Margus Tsahkna, Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski, Member of the European Parliament and UT Professor Marju Lauristin and Åbo Academy University Professor Mikko Lagerspetz will word political decisions and possible future visions. The discussion is moderated by Head of UT Centre for Ethics Margit Sutrop.

The conference will be opened by Minister of Education and Research Jürgen Ligi and Director of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia Christer Haglund.

Watch the live broadcast of the conference and have a look at the schedule of the conference and additional information about the essay and photography contest at The main prize of the essay contest is participation at the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony in Oslo.

The conference and essay and photography contest are organized by UT Centre for Ethics in cooperation with the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, Nordic Council of Ministers, Embassy of Norway, Embassy of Sweden, Embassy of Denmark, Embassy of Finland, Ministry of Education and Research, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, University of Tartu College of Foreign Language and Cultures.

Additional information: Mari-Liisa Parder, Project Manager at UT Centre for Ethics, 59 036 319,

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