Thesis supervisor: Prof. Eero Medijainen, University of Tartu
Opponent: Senior Lecturer, PhD Kari Alenius, University of Oulu
The aim of this PhD thesis is to examine the Estonian immigration policy of the early 1920s, relating it with other fields of politics and with the broader framework of state-building. An overview is given of the system established for the background checks of the immigrants. An answer is sought to the question, what were the main principles that the Estonian politicians and officials followed when deciding upon the issuance of entry permits to persons wanting to return or to move to Estonia in 1920 to 1923. The thesis is composed of four articles that have been previously published in peer-reviewed journals, and of an introductory outline.
As a result of the research, it can be argued that the immigration policy of the Republic of Estonia in the early 1920s fits into the general pattern of the immigration policies implemented by other European states at that time. As elsewhere in Europe, the endeavors of Estonian authorities to guarantee national security and to achieve economic and political stability led to a strict immigration control. The research established a direct correlation between the deterioration of the economic situation and the introduction of restrictions on immigration. Increasing unemployment led to the introduction of measures to protect the national labor market from external influences: priority was given to the local population. An aspiration of Estonian authorities to assure the political stability also explains the attempts to bar the entrance of persons who were known for their disloyalty to the new state and to restrain the immigration of non-Estonians. As in other European states, the increase in ethnic heterogeneity was perceived as a possible source of instability in the newly established Republic of Estonia.