It is astounding and regrettable that the senior member of the ruling coalition Center Party has voted against granting Estonian citizenship 1,500 children, member of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) Jevgeni Ossinovski said on Tuesday.
The coalition sent to the final vote on Monday a bill seeking to amend the Citizenship Act, which has been drafted in such a way that it only seemingly grants the Estonian citizenship to over 1,000 minors residing in Estonia, without effectively doing so, spokespeople for SDE told BNS.
The government's bill, which has been put to a second reading in the parliament, only seemingly gives the option of becoming an Estonian national without having to sit an examination to some 1,500 children who are born and residing in Estonia and whose family's links to Estonia go back to at least 1991.
"The bill has been supplemented at the conservatives' request with a provision that only allows the children of Russian nationals to become citizens of Estonia if they present proof that they have been released from their Russian citizenship. As Russian law does not allow for children to be released from citizenship, they have no way of obtaining such proof. Therefore, only 130 children actually have the opportunity to become Estonian nationals, and the remaining 1,400 are looking at a fake citizenship status," Osskinovski said, adding that it is a mockery to suggest such a solution, and the Social Democrats do not support it.
The bill of amendments proposed by SDE would have enabled equal treatment for all 1,500 children and granted Estonian citizenship to all of them. The proposal was not supported by the right-wing members of the constitutional committee of the Riigikogu.
"What is astounding, however, is that members of the Center Party Andrei Korobeinik and Marek Jurgenson, who have talked a great deal about the need to simplify the rules of granting citizenship, voted against our amendment. The Center Party therefore leaves 1,400 children without an actual chance to become Estonian nationals," Ossinovski said.
Justice Chancellor Ülle Madise has likewise analyzed the proposed regulation.
"The state must not go back on its word or give misleading signals," Madise said, adding that while the government's is bill is aimed at 1,523 children, over 90 percent of them will be unable to exercise this right before turning 18. The justice chancellor said that the parliament must carefully assess whether or not the difference of treatment toward a certain group of people is justified.
Editor: Helen Wright