The Estonian government on Thursday decided to support churches operating in Estonia with €8.2 million, €6.8 million of which will go to the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) and €1.4 million of which will go to the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church (EAOK).
In connection with the allocation, the churches will abandon their other material claims, Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center) said at the government press conference on Thursday.
The government decided to allocate the money from the ownership reform reserve to help compensate for damages caused by the war and the occupations last century, the government said.
The EELK is planning to spend €2 million on renovating Tallinn Dome Church, €1.2 million for the construction, renovation and acquisition of buildings of worship at Mustamäe, and €3.6 million for activities directed toward society as well as investments.
The EAÕK, meanwhile, intends to use the €1.4 million to support construction at a nunnery on the island of Saaremaa as well as to found a monastery.
The EELK on Dec. 20 filed an application for €6.8 million from the government's property reform reserve to help undo the injustices caused by the war and during the occupation. Archbishop Urmas Viilma, head of the EELK, said in the application that the Soviet authorities expropriated from EELK congregations church buildings and other real estate related to their public activity, as well as agricultural land and forests.
Prior to the allocation to the EELK, the government's property reform reserve totaled €16.8 million. Before the church can start using the money, however, an agreement must first be concluded between the Ministry of Finance and the churches which lays out the amount of funding to be earmarked for each specific purpose.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said at the government press conference last Thursday that the government had had frequent meetings with church leaders recently and that he also hoped that the matter involving the claim in question would be resolved.
Editor: Aili Vahtla