A bill initiated by the opposition Reform Party which would have allowed Estonian citizens by birth to hold dual citizenship was rejected in the Riigikogu on Thursday with the votes of the Centre Party, Pro Patria, the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE).
The bill was rejected in the 101-seat Riigikogu with 40 votes.
In his speech promoting the bill, MP Hanno Pevkur (Reform) said that one of the Riigikogu's tasks must be to engage in increasing the number of Estonians, not reducing it.
"It is immoral and unconstitutional to force Estonian citizens by birth to choose," he said. "We also have to deal with those who have relocated to places far from home. They, too, must know that they are always welcome home and that the state will not force upon them a choice between the citizenship of one or another country."
According to Pevkur, a member of the board of the Reform Party, the Riigikogu now had the opportunity to demonstrate itself to be a statesman — "...to demonstrate to the Estonian people both here at home and abroad that yes, we can rise above these sorts of political agreements, and we are considering how there could be more, not fewer, Estonians in the future."
He voiced regret that the bill was not backed by the nationalist opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), and described the conduct of Pro Patria, a nationalist force in the government coalition, as particularly cynical.
Bill addressed number of scenarios
The bill submitted by the Reform Party would have introduced the opportunity to restore Estonian citizenship to people who obtained it by birth or acquired it before 26 Feburary 1992, but were forced to relinquish it or were deemed as having lost or relinquished their Estonian citizenship.
It also would have deemed Estonian citizens by birth optants for citizenship under the Treaty of Tartu to whom a positive decision regarding the granting of citizenship was made but who did not take up residence in Estonia, provided that the territory in which they resided is not a part of Russia. Direct descendants of such individuals would likewise be deemed Estonian citizens by birth.
In addition, the bill would have allowed for individuals convicted of treason or terrorism to be stripped of their citizenship, and established the opportunity to strip individuals granted Estonian citizenship for outstanding merit of said citizenship.
The Reform Party parliamentary group initiated a similar bill this spring which was rejected by the government.
Editor: Aili Vahtla