Prof. Dr. Vello Pettai was appointed Director of the ECMI in May 2019 and assumed the position in March 2020. Prior to that he was Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Tartu, where he worked on topics ranging from ethnic politics to democratization to transitional justice. His research has appeared in a range of international academic journals including Nations and Nationalism, East European Politics and Societies, Nationalities Papers and Europa Ethnica. He has also published five books, most recently co-authoring the monograph Transitional and Retrospective Justice in the Baltic States, (Cambridge University Press, 2015). From 1997 to 1999 Pettai served as Chair and Representative of the President of Estonia to the country’s Roundtable on National Minorities, where he led a series of initiatives related to Estonia’s compliance with the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities as well as the problem of stateless children. Following this work in the policy domain, Pettai continued to operate as an expert on minority integration as well as teach courses on ethnopolitics.
His experience in leadership positions includes serving as acting dean as well as head of his department at the University of Tartu. From 2006-2012, Pettai also served as Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee of the European Consortium for Political Research. For more than a decade, he was a member of the High Council of the European University Institute (including serving for a year as its Chair). Vello Pettai obtained his PhD in Political Science from Columbia University (USA) and has twice been DAAD Guest Professor (at Leuphana University Lüneburg and Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena). He speaks six languages, including Estonian, German, French, Russian and Latvian.