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Reform submits bill allowing dual citizenship in Estonia

While thousands of diaspora Estonians born abroad already have dual citizenship, it is not currently technically allowed by Estonian law.
While thousands of diaspora Estonians born abroad already have dual citizenship, it is not currently technically allowed by Estonian law. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

The Reform Party parliamentary group submitted a bill to the Riigikogu on Wednesday that would lift the requirement for Estonian citizens by birth to relinquish their Estonian citizenship when they have obtained the citizenship of another EU or European Economic Area (EEA) member state, the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Switzerland.

"While the Constitution does not permit to strip an Estonian citizen by birth of Estonian citizenship, we are nevertheless losing citizens because of the prohibition on dual citizenship," MP Jürgen Ligi said. "Citizenship of a country which belongs to the same realm of values as we do should not be a reason for that." 

Ligi said that the bill provides a list of countries, which in addition to the member states of the EU, the EEA and Switzerland include democracies based on the rule of law which definitely share the same values with us, or the U.S., Australia, Canada and New Zealand, to the citizens of which the right to free movement arising from the EU law applies, and there is no objective reason to not allow Estonian citizens the possibility of multiple citizenship by simultaneously holding the citizenship of such countries.

The selection of non-European countries for this list was based on the fact that ethnic Estonian communities have historically formed in these countries and there are no objective reasons for limiting citizenship when it comes to these countries.

"While the bill will not create any additional citizens, it will offer the opportunity to preserve them," Ligi explained. "This is important both for the Estonian state as well as for many Estonians living abroad. And, finally, this clarity will also provide a positive message to those Estonians considering returning to Estonia."

The bill submitted on Wednesday would also allow for the possibility of stripping a person of Estonian citizenship awarded to them for special merit if the person's behavior in connection with Estonia has become not appropriate for that status. Depriving a person awarded Estonian citizenship for special merit of their citizenship would be possible if the person does not observe Estonia's constitutional order or Estonian law, does not respect Estonia's constitutional values and principles, a state based on liberty, justice and law, the organization of Estonian society, and the Estonian language and culture.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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