Must Estonia naturalise Russian minorities?
Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas has proposed granting Estonian citizenship to the country's "non-citizens". Tens of thousands of Russian-speaking people moved to Estonia during the Soviet era and have been stateless since the country's independence in 1991. For some commentators the debate is long overdue, others seen naturalisation as an unwanted concession to enemies of the state.
Estonia's citizenship policy obsolete
A broad debate about citizenship policy is long overdue, writes Kristina Kallas, director of the University of Tartu's Narva College, in Postimees:
“We should ask ourselves if it isn't time to rethink our entire citizenship policy. Giving Estonian citizenship to 'non-citizens' is one topic, but I believe there are others. For example the nationality of the children of foreigners who are born here. Dual citizenship for Estonians themselves, because more and more Estonians live abroad. Dual citizenship for the foreigners who live here, so that their ties to the country grow stronger. There are many topics that need to be addressed in a socio-political discussion in order to reach a consensus. The current citizenship law is 25 years old; a reform is clearly overdue.”
A gift to enemies of the state
The prime minister's proposal to give stateless persons Estonian passports unconditionally has met with opposition from his party's conservative coalition partner IRL. Parliamentarian Ken-Marti Vaher explains why in Eesti Päevaleht:
“Ratas' proposal would see even those who have done everything possible to prevent the existence of the Estonian state receive citizenship. They are loyal to another state and against the Estonian state, which they continue to see as a temporary anomaly. Ratas believes that his proposal will go down well in the election year 2019. I, on the other hand, am convinced that most voters will vote against it. Not just those who are Estonian citizens by birth but many who acquired citizenship later on, who learned the Estonian language and took the tests. People don't like it when the rules change in the middle of the game, especially when it comes to something as fundamental as an individual's loyalty to his own state.”