Citizenship an Informed Decision, Not Accident of Birth, Historian Says (14)
Historian Igor Kopõtin says he does not agree with the proposal to grant citizenship to stateless residents without language exams and bureaucracy, floated yesterday by another historian David Vseviov, and has called on the state to focus integration efforts on young non-citizens.
Kopõtin told ERR Russian-language radio today that one does not become a citizen at birth, instead, it is an issue of attitude towards one's obligations and rights, arrived at after careful consideration, and this should also apply to people who become citizens by birth.
According to him, the problem of non-citizens in Estonia is mostly connected to the legacy of the Soviet Union that has been lingering for far too long. He noted that central to the problem is the will of the people concerned, who, after all things considered, have not chosen either Russian or Estonian citizenship.
“Basically, the citizenship exam is not difficult and requires elementary knowledge of the state and the language. A beginners' level knowledge of Estonian is completely sufficient. Citizenship exams like this are common in practically all European states and also Russia,” he said.
Kopõtin said that the Estonian state should concentrate on the young, so that they would not see the Estonian passport simply as a means for traveling in Europe, but as a logical step in their integration into Estonian society.
The historian has previously called for providing more materials on Estonian history in Russian, to counter the abundance of propagandistic history.
Vseviov said yesterday on the Russian-language evening news on ETV that naturalizing citizens could happen purely as a function of enough time, without requiring exams. Vseviov also said he was in favor of dual citizenship for children, while adding that it was problematic for adults given Estonia's position on a "civilizational border."