Justice minister: Toying with extending voting rights dangerous ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (IRL).
Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (IRL). Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

Commenting on Center Party MP Olga Ivanova's suggestion to give holders of alien passports more voting rights, Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (IRL) said at the government's Thursday press conference that games like these are dangerous.

"Citizenship is a matter concerning political power," Reinsalu said. "It is a right and a privilege, but also a duty to decide on the state's policies."

As for the right to vote in European Parliament elections, the minister noted that this right was regulated by an EU-wide act. "Extending it to include citizens of third countries is a dangerous and distorted train of thought," he said, adding that the aim of people engaged in this kind of ideology was definitely to extend the voting rights of non-citizens within member states as well.

Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski likewise said that the extension of voting rights to people of undetermined citizenship was unnecessary.

According to Ossinovski, there was no doubt that the status of a non-citizen was not a normal one and the existence of apprximately 80,000 people of undetermined citizenship in Estonia was not a good solution. In addition, the tempo of naturalizations has decelerated in recent years mostly due to children, as the children of two aliens automatically become Estonian citizens as of last year.

"However, the problem is ongoing among adults and will probably go on for quite some time," he continued. "At the same time, I definitely do not support the opinion that, in the current situation, we should create additional opportunities for non-citizens."

Ossinovski said that the rights of non-citizens are fairly well protected in Estonia. "True, they do have fewer rights when it comes to elections, there are some restrictions in terms of public services and there is also a restriction on belonging to a political party," he admitted. "However, other rights are guaranteed to them and there is no need for big and fundamental changes in that respect."

Center Party chairman and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said that the party's standpoint has been that the matter of holders of alien passports must definitely be solved. "Does this now mean that all 80,000 non-citizens will receive an Estonian passport by mail? Definitely not," he said. "People will have to apply for citizenship themselves and declare their loyalty to the state of Estonia."

Ratas noted that one must wait until the time leading up to parliamentary elections to see how various parties will handle this particular issue in their respective platforms.

Ratas said that we must wait until the time prior to parliamentary elections in order to see how parties will handle this question in their programs.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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