This article takes a subjective approach to studying norm compliance in order to determine how EU conditionality and Russia’s activism have affected elite attitudes toward minority policies, majority-minority relations, and language use in Estonian society in the post-accession period. The results of a Q method study and semi-structured interviews with integration elites in spring 2008 reveal four distinct viewpoints. The study casts doubt upon the success of EU conditionality in Estonia by demonstrating that European minority rights norms remain contested and have not been internalized by a substantial portion of elites. In addition, the study points to an important role for Russia’s activism in the development of a more inclusive society. Russia’s activism actually works against minority integration by reinforcing pre-existing domestic norms that are not compatible with European minority rights standards and by aggravating tensions over history and language, which frustrate integration efforts. This article ultimately contributes to studies on the effects of international pressure on minority integration by pointing to the need for greater attention to the ways in which multiple actors at both the international and domestic levels structure the influence of EU conditionality.
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