Bill to force use of Estonian

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PHOTO: Meelis Meilbaum

MP Tarmo Kruusimäe (Pro Patria) has introduced draft legislation to amend the Language Act by hiking fines for violations tenfold from the current €640 to €6,400.

“We find ourselves in a curious situation where it is entirely possible to work in Estonian in the European Parliament while one cannot make do with the official language in one’s local grocery store. Basically, it is a violation of the basic rights of Estonian citizens as section 6 of the Constitution is clear: the official language of the Republic of Estonia is Estonian,” Kruusimäe said.

“The aim of the bill at hand is to improve and make more effective compliance with the Language Act, to positively motivate heads of institutions and entrepreneurs to contribute to Estonian studies of their employees. The bill will make it possible for the language inspectorate to carry out monitoring more effectively,” Kruusimäe added.

In addition to Kruusimäe, draft legislation to introduce the amendment bears the signatures of Priit Sibul (Pro Patria), Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) MPs Jaak Madison and Henn Põlluaas, Reform Party members Madis Milling and Igor Gräzin, and centrists Jaanus Karilaid and Märt Sults.

The reaction of MEP Yana Toom (Center) to the bill was painful. “What shame! To “positively motivate” compliance with the Language Act by hiking fines tenfold – refined sadism indeed. I’m greatly ashamed the paper bears the signatures of two of my fellow Center Party members,” Toom wrote on Facebook.

“I’m not an MP, but I will do everything in my power to keep this embarrassment from passing. I’m sure most of my colleagues share the sentiment,” she added.

The ruling Center Party’s press representative Andre Hanimägi said the faction has not discussed the matter and the two delegates have signed the bill on their own initiative.

Karilaid told the portal that his signatures cannot under any circumstances be interpreted as the official position of the Center Party faction.

“This subject matter requires future discussion on what to do to keep the language issue on the right track. If it’s not fines, perhaps there are some other methods,” Karilaid said.