Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, who came under a barrage of questions from the opposition during yesterday's Riigikogu Question Time, was forced to assure members of parliament on several occasions that the Center Party's idea to give people who have lived in Estonia for more than 25 years citizenship does not mean an indiscriminate campaign to throw passports at everyone.
Ratas' plan would help half of stateless persons
Ratas said he is not in favor of universal citizenship, and that it is not what the Center Party's proposal entails. „We are talking about people who have lived in this country for more than 25 years. We are not talking about people who have come here after August 20, 1991. We are not talking about mailing passports to everyone,“ he said.
The PM said that the party's proposal only concerns people who were living in Estonia prior to it regaining its independence on August 20, 1991. „Secondly, eligible people must be at least 15 years of age, have a permanent residence permit, steady legal income, be loyal to Estonia, take an oath when applying for citizenship: „I vow to be loyal to the Estonian constitutional order.“ These items must definitely be included if the topic is to be taken forward at all.“
Ratas added that many international organizations have said that the question of stateless persons needs to be solved. „From the point of few of security, the aspect of social cohesion, I believe it right if people living in Estonia are its citizens,“ he said.
He also said, when speaking in front of the Riigikogu, that the Center Party's proposal would give citizenship to less than half of today's 80,000 stateless persons. „I believe that at least half of them would not even qualify for citizenship inside this logic,“ Ratas said.
The PM said it is clear the proposal will not be supported by the current composition of the Riigikogu. „It is simply my wish that all parties treat with this topic. The problem exists,“ he added.