Estonian Prime Minister's Jiri Ratass speech to forum participants

Dear audience, I am honoured to welcome you at the international forum "Time for children! Towards a family-friendly society". I would like to congratulate all Latvian people on the 100th anniversary of our three friendly countries. I find it very supportive that the Latvian government has announced the year 2018 as the year of great families. Most of European countries are facing different demographic challenges - low birth rates, insufficient family support, aging population and migration.

Therefore it is very positive that today's forum brings together many experts, politicians and academics to discuss family policies and demographic trends. Estonia is also working hard to overcome the demographic challenges - we are improving the parental leave and benefits system, helping young parents buy their first home and we are doing our best to have enough kindergartens and schools available for all the children. In addition we have to consider regional challenges and economic policies - young people need secure environment, sufficient income and a supportive community even before they start a family.

We have to think of children and youth in each policy area - every bill and document  must contribute towards solving the demographic crisis. It is not just a matter of family policy, it is a task for the entire community, for the entire state and non-governmental organisations. I wish you all a very interesting forum, with many fruitful ideas and bold solutions.