Minister of Culture Indrek Saar (SDE) finds that all those who finish school in Estonia should also be able to pass the citizenship exam. Saar invited the Ministry of the Interior on August 17th to think about how young holders of the alien passport can be motivated to become Estonian citizens.
Saar pointed out to ERR’s Estonian news portal that the last integration survey in 2015 identified two factors that kept stateless residents from applying for Estonian citizenship: the level of difficulty of the citizenship exam, and the ability to travel visa free to Russia and other CIS countries.
Following the entering into force of a 2008 Russian presidential decree on Aug. 17, stateless residents of Estonia born after February 1992 can no longer enter Russia without a visa. But as they all went to school in Estonia after the country’s re-independence, at least all those who finished their education should be able to pass the citizenship exam, Saar said.
All those who live here permanently, consider Estonia their home country, and wish to be part of Estonian society should be Estonian citizens, he added.
The changes to the citizenship law that entered into force this year followed the same idea, Saar said. Applying for citizenship has been made simpler, dual citizenship for minors is allowed in some cases, and automatic citizenship for all children born in Estonia to stateless residents is guaranteed.
According to the Police and Border Guard Board, 743 minors have been granted Estonian citizenship this year. They also state that there are 1,203 stateless residents under 24 that could apply for Estonian citizenship.
“These youths are our own,” Saar said. “It’s my wish that these 1,203 should become Estonian citizens.”
VES / ERR