Estonian MEP Yana Toom has thrown her weight behind a petition calling for eradication of statelessness.
On Tuesday the European Network on Statelessness handed over a petition to the European Parliament calling on all European countries to ratify the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and to introduce effective procedures for determining who is stateless.
"Only four members of the European Union have not ratified the convention, Estonia among them. Our authorities are gently calling the stateless 'people of undetermined citizenship.' Such terminology is not random: Estonia does not want to recognize that a large number of its population does not have any citizenship and prefer to act as if those with the alien's passport are just a bit slow and have not been able to decide which citizenship to take for two decades," said Yana Toom, one of the signatories.
According the Population Register, the number of people who hold Estonian alien's passport is around 86,000, but they are not currently classified as being stateless.
"Estonia has to acknowledge the problem and count those who hold the alien's passport among the stateless. This requires a creation of statelessness determination procedures that are in accord with the UN convention," she added.
UN Refugee Agency has estimated the number of all stateless people in the world to be around 12 million, about 600,000 of whom live in Europe.
In addition to Estonia, the convention has also not been ratified by Cyprus, Malta and Poland. Determination procedures, however, are in place in only eight countries: UK, Hungary, Spain, Georgia, Moldova, Latvia, France and Italy.
UN too has launched a global campaign aimed at eradicating statelessness within the next 10 years.