Haniel Spring School 2015: Tallinn, Estonia (March 26)

by: Gunay Guliyeva, Gultekin Bayramova (Part 1) and Jhon Magkilat (Part 2)

Part 1: Morning Session

We started the day with nice breakfast in the hotel followed by two lectures. We had a little bit of trouble finding out the direction of the bus; however, we managed it successfully and had a nice bus trip to the Tallinn University of Technology. The university was located far away from city centre and is surrounded with a huge green area, which is a nice motivation for students going this way to the University every morning before classes. We had a lecture at the Tallinn University of Technology in the School of Innovation and Governance by professor Kulli Sarapau. She presented the topic “Post-Communist Development of Administrative Structure in CEE and Estonia” by giving an introduction with historical background of Estonia and system of local self-governance. Post-communist administrative reform in Estonia emerged in the environment with a different politico-historical background, dramatic changes of political and economic systems and pressures for the change, which makes administrative reform a complex interplay between conscious strategies of political and administrative actors, cultural and historical features and the pressures of the external environment. These all factors mentioned above make administrative reforms in Estonia very difficult, and there are still critical factors such as the Soviet legacy, instability, problems with the electoral system and economic fluctuation.

Part 2: Afternoon Session

After the first session in the morning, the students had the chance to spend the two-hour break to roam around the campus and to have a short promenade in the city. The afternoon session was filled as well with interesting information about the urban governance in Estonia. Dr. Tarmo Pikner, a researcher at the Centre for Landscape and Culture at the Estonian Institute of Humanities, Tallinn University, gave a lecture on “Urban governance and questioning of good city: tendencies from Estonia”. To be specific, the lecturer talked about urbanization solidarity, the role of the cities and transportation mobility in urbanization and rapid urbanization. Dr. Pikner has also mentioned about the Estonia 30+, a strategy of the country where the concept of dispersed urbanization was emphasized. The idea is to provide the people living in the countryside the same quality of life and same opportunity as the people in the big cities. The speaker has also emphasized how population change in Europe could affect urbanization in different European cities like Tallinn. The lecture somehow has given the students an overview how urban governance in Tallinn is. Towards the end of the presentation, Dr. Pikner quoted one of the citizens of the city who said, “ If I am a citizen of Estonia and pay taxes, then why I can not build something here on unused land of the state.” This statement made me realize that no matter how the government exerts a lot of effort for the betterment of the city especially in terms of urbanization, if the citizens won’t cooperate, all the strategies that they have prepared might fail. Hence, after the lecture, I was reflecting on the idea that for a project to be successful, the two sides should work hand in hand. The government should work with the citizens to make all these projects a success. As the famous saying goes, “it takes two to tango”.