Together with Latvian MEPs Tatjana Ždanoka and Andejs Mamikins, Estonian MEP Yana Toom (Center) submitted a petition on the rights of non-citizens to the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions (PETI). The petition had been signed by over 20,000 residents of Estonia and Latvia.
In their petition, Toom, Ždanoka and Mamikins called for an end to the unequal treatment of non-citizens by granting non-citizens living in Estonia the right to join political parties and vote in European Parliament elections and non-citizens living in Latvia the right to vote in local and European Parliament elections.
According to the petition, as of the beginning of 2016, there were 252,017 non-citizens living in Latvia and 82,341 non-citizens living in Estonia.
Signatures for the petition began to be collected on April 9 in Estonia and April 14 in Latvia.
Estonian and Latvian citizens as well as permanent residents of the two countries, regardless of citizenship, were allowed to sign the petition. Among the signatories were citizens of Belgium, Iceland, Italy, Canada, Lithuania, Germany, Great Britain, the US, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
Representatives of the three MEPs who submitted the petition will be invited to a public hearing. One of them, Editor-in-Chief of Narva’s Russian-language regional paper Narvskaya Gazeta Sergei Stepanov, himself a non-citizen, stated that he signed the petition because it would lead a large group of people closer to participation in Estonian and European life.
The MEPs explained that the PETI can either compile a report of its own or write a Parliament draft resolution. “An on-site visit and transfer of materials to the European Ombudsman are also possible if needed to ascertain the facts,” they explained. “A review of the petition could lead to the establishment of a committee of inquiry into the violation of the enforcement of EU legislation.”
Editor: Editor: Aili Sarapik