The Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu at its Monday meeting decided to send to their first readings two bills that are to allow for the application under simplified procedure for citizenship for minors born in Estonia whose parents have lived in the country since before the restoration of the independence of the Republic of Estonia in August 1991.
According to Constitutional Committee chairman Paul Puustusmaa (EKRE), the government's bill may potentially affect some 1,500 minors.
"According to current legislation, a parent must apply for Estonian citizenship for both themselves and the child at the same time," Puustusmaa explained. "But this bill will establish the opportunity for a parent to apply for citizenship only for the child. It is important that one of the stateless parents or grandparents, or holders of a so-called "gray passport," was a resident of Estonia as of Aug. 20, 1991, he added, noting that this bill involves minors with one stateless parent and one foreign citizen parent.
MP Jevgeni Ossinovski, who introduced a bill by the Social Democratic Party (SDE) parliamentary group concerning the same issue, said that the government's bill is largely symbolic in value.
"Of these 1,500 children, most will unfortunately not become Estonian citizens before reaching adulthood, as Russia will not enable them to renounce their Russian citizenship any sooner," Ossinovski said.
He added that the SDE's bill seeks to give children the opportunity to become Estonian citizens immediately.
"We want to enable Estonian citizenship to all children whose predecessors lived in Estonia at the time independence was restored — that is, approximately 8,000 minors," the Social Democrat said.
Monday's committee meeting was attended by Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) as well as Ruth Annus, head of the Ministry of the Interior's Citizenship and Migration Policy Department, a legal adviser from the same department as well as a representative of the Ministry of Justice.
The committee decided to send the government-initiated bill of amendments to the Citizenship Act to its first reading at a plenary sitting of the Riigikogu on Sept. 23.
It also decided to send the SDE's bill of amendments to the Citizenship Act to its first reading on Oct. 8.
Editor: Aili Vahtla