Estonia launches project to avoid London-type riots

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Estonia's government on Thursday adopted a 26 million euro ($37.5 million) project aimed at preventing the kind of youth riots which recently hit Britain, the country's education minister announced.

The ex-Soviet Baltic state of 1.3 million that joined the EU in 2004 earmarked the cash for projects running through to 2013 focused on tackling problems facing Estonia's youth like joblessness and social alienation.

The aim is "to prevent situations that will take angry youth to streets like we saw recently in London and have seen also in previous years in Paris suburbs and in some other states over the years," education and science minister Jaak Aaviksoo told reporters in Tallinn.

"We plan to create some new youth centres that deal with youth problems and to give young people more rights to participate in decision-making, for example via youth councils working in the municipalities," Aaviksoo added.

He noted that 30 percent of Estonian residents who are of working age do not have a profession, identifying this as a source of youth alienation.

"We have probably paid too much attention to elite schools in Estonia and the need for and importance of dealing with real youth problems has been in a way undervalued," minister added.

Part of the project money will be also allocated to promote the relations between Estonian youth organisations with similar organisations in other EU states.

Youth riots that first erupted in the London district of Tottenham on August 6 spread to other cities in England, leaving five people dead and shops and flats looted and burned.

© 2011 AFP

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