The Central Union of Estonian Property Owners said on Friday that it welcomes the Estonian government's decision to give churches €8.2 million, but that the House of the Blackheads in Tallinn should also be returned to the brotherhood of the same name to complete the country's ownership reform process.
Priidu Pärna, chairman of the property owners union, said that owners' right to property is protected under the Constitution, and in the restitution of property, all owners must be treated equally, including private owners and churches alike.
According to Pärna, now that a solution had been found to the issue of church property, the House of the Blackheads, located in Tallinn's medieval Old Town, must also be returned.
"The Estonian state will soon be celebrating its 100th anniversary," he said. "We have to complete the ownership reform which will have lasted more than 25 years by then. In that case, the Estonian state will be able to enter the new century with a clean sheet and looking toward the future."
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).
The government decided to allocate the money from the property reform reserve to help compensate for damages caused by the war and the occupations last century, the government said. 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 Estonian government, which had intially decided that the House of the Blackheads must be returned to the Brotherhood of the Blackheads, lost a legal dispute with the city on the matter in November 2013, when the Supreme Court of Estonia rejected the government's appeal against the decisions of lower-tier courts upholding the City of Tallinn's decision not to return the Old Town landmark.
Editor: Aili Vahtla