Ratas: This government won't change Estonia's citizenship policy
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said on Wednesday that although was in favor of granting Estonia's stateless citizenship through a simplified procedure, the policy would not change during the time of this government.
"I really hope that the parties will raise the subject before the parliamentary elections," Ratas said.
MEP and Center Party leadership member Yana Toom had said in an interview with daily Eesti Päevaleht published on Wednesday that Ratas was in favor of granting citizenship to all those holding an Alien's Passport.
According to the prime minister, the fact that Estonia has a big number of stateless persons is a problem, a fact that has also been pointed out by international organizations. "I definitely do not support the idea that all of the 80,000 people would just be given Estonian citizenship. The law establishes very clear rules for applying for citizenship," Ratas commented on Toom's statements on Wednesday.
He added that there had been talk that all people who lived in Estonia before the country's regaining independence on Aug. 20, 1991 could be granted citizenship through a simplified procedure. But that would still mean that they should apply for it, and confirm their loyalty to the Estonian state, Ratas said.
Another question was whether they would need to pass a language exam, or a test of their knowledge of the Constitution.
"The opinion of the Center Party's parliamentary group is that the people who have lived here since before Aug. 20, 1991 should not have to do that. But we also definitely think that the people who were associated with the Soviet army or the military side of the Soviet Union should not have the chance to be granted citizenship through a simplified procedure," Ratas added.
The leadership of the Center Party is currently negotiating the set-up of its voting lists in the upcoming local polls. Yana Toom and others would like to run on a coalition list with independents, while the parliamentary group and a majority of the party's leadership thinks that this could affect its results.
Toom's efforts are aimed among other things at a possibility for former long-time chairman Edgar Savisaar to return to the political scene. Savisaar, though nominally still mayor of Tallinn, was suspended when he was charged with embezzlement, money laundering, graft, and having accepted illicit political donations.
Editor: Dario Cavegn
Source: ERR, BNS