A total of 420 people have already registered for free Estonian language courses meant for applicants for Estonian citizenship, getting ahead of even the launch of the information campaign meant to promote the courses.
Speaking at the government press conference on Thursday, Minister of the Interior Katri Raik (SDE) said that to date, 420 people have registered for the free language courses, adding that the initial plan was to offer the courses for 400 people.
According to the minister, the fact that 70% of those who have registered are from Tallinn illustrates that the citizenship issue is in no way exclusive to Ida-Viru County in Northeastern Estonia. Registered participants do, however, include roughly equal numbers of men and women, including one individual over 55 years of age.
Free lessons may lead to new citizens
"If this project proves a success, over a thousand people may receive Estonian citizenship next year," Ms Raik emphasised.
Over the past several years, around 700 people per year have been granted Estonian citizenship. "Our citizenship policy is relative conservative, but stable," she added.
Eligible to attend the free Estonian language courses are people who have lived in Estonia on a legal basis for at least five years and who meet the conditions for applying and wish to apply for Estonian citizenship. The courses will be held by the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences.
Those accepted to participate in the course will sign a contract with the state according to which the state will bear all course-related expenses if, upon successfully completing the course, the individual applies for Estonian citizenship.
The first study groups will begin in Tallinn and Narva next month.
Editor: Aili Vahtla