This year’s Opinion Festival focuses on communication culture, Baltic cooperation and the nature of democracy

The programme for the sixth Opinion Festival, taking place in Paide, Estonia, has now been unveiled, following the joint efforts of around a hundred discussion organizers. This summer, the spotlight will be on Estonian communication culture, alongside deepdives into the future of the 100-year-old Baltic countries and the nature of democracy. In total, 160 discussions will take place across 23 themed areas.

The selection of discussion topics is based on the results from the public call for ideas, held in spring. The Opinion Festival offered, in advance, keywords related to Estonia’s centenary, and all of them made it into the programme. The other ideas submitted to the festival inspired themed areas focussing on religion in Estonia, the forest, technology, health and security, and human capital. The schedule for the discussions is available on the Opinion Festival website: https://www.arvamusfestival.ee/kava/ [you can view the selection of English-language discussions by selecting “Inglise” in the top right-hand corner].

The Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania 2038 area, created at the initiative of Opinion Festival major supporter Swedbank, will be a place to discuss the mutual causes for optimism and concern that the Baltic countries share. One of the questions raised will be “Who is richer – Jaan, Janis or Justas?” , together with discussions on the various demographic and economic challenges across the three countries. Discussions reaching beyond the Estonian border will also be held in the democracy area — set up and supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers — tackling topics such as European citizens, the impact of populism, and informed consumption of the media.

According to Maiu Lauring, head organizer of the Opinion Festival, this year’s festival has seen an increase in topics which reach beyond Estonia. “Openness is one of the key values of the Opinion Festival and on that basis we have chosen discussions that would bring together the experience of various countries. There will also be more participants from other countries than in previous years,” noted Lauring. She expressed hope that this would enrich the festival experience for all participants.

This year, special attention will be paid to the discussion and communication culture in Estonia in and of itself. A snapshot of the topics addressed in the communication culture area, led by KiVa school (a school-based anti-bullying program), includes questions such as: how to communicate with each other without bullying, whether and how diversity makes us richer, and how communication culture in Estonia and Finland compare to each other. Another highlight will be a game about Estonian values.  Meanwhile, the Telia digital wisdom area will look at issues surrounding communication in cyberspace.

For the first time in the Festival’s history, the public can vote for the topic of focus for the parliamentary party leaders’ debate, which has quickly become one of the most highly-anticipated events of the Festival in recent years. The poll is available on the Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) website until early July.

The sixth Opinion Festival will take place between August 10th and 11th in Paide. The Festival is supported by the Paide City Government, Swedbank, the National Foundation of Civil Society, the Union of Järva County Municipalities, the European Commission, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the European Parliament, Telia, Ergo, and Eesti Töötukassa (the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund).

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