Culture minister launches debate on relaxing citizenship rules (12)
Estonian Minister of Culture Indrek Saar is calling for a public discussion on easing citizenship rules.
The discussion aims to find new ways to decrease the number of people with undetermined citizenship in Estonia.
Saar reasoned that it is in the interest of the state that its inhabitants are also its citizens as this increases one's commitment to the country.
"The share of citizens in the population has increased steadily ever since re-independence, but the pace of naturalization has slowed down over the past decade, staying at around 1,500 individuals per year," he said. Estonia has the second largest share of inhabitants with undetermined citizenship in the EU. Only Latvia has more.
The culture ministry is now putting together a new action plan for 2016-2020 to rectify the situation. The plan aims to determine different lines of action to be taken, deadlines and resources.
One of its focal points is to understand and tackle the issues that keep people from applying to Estonian citizenship.
"We want to reach those people in the society who could apply for the citizenship but fail to take concrete steps," Saar said. "We're talking about preparation courses for constitution and citizenship exam, language classes, but also more efficient information dissemination and identity building," he said of the possibilities the ministry is exploring.