The Baltic Course, Tallinn, 22.01.2015.
The Estonian Riigikogu supported on Wednesday the amendments to the citizenship law and the state dues law, which simplify receiving Estonian citizenship for children under 15 years of age and people over 65 years of age, LETA/Public Broadcasting reports.
So far, parents who had undetermined citizenship and who had resided in Estonia for at least five years, could apply for Estonian citizenship for their under 15-year-old child if the child was born in Estonia. With the law amendment approved of today, such children receive citizenship at the moment of birth, without parents having to apply for it.
The under-15-year-old persons with undetermined citizenship living in Estonia when the law comes in force, whose parents with undetermined citizenship have lived in Estonia for at least five years, get citizenship as soon as the law amendment comes in force. Parents have the right to refuse such granting of citizenship during the period of one year.
The law allows minors to possess, in addition to the Estonian citizenship, the citizenship of another country. When they become adults, however, they have to waive either the citizenship of Estonia or the other country in three years.
The law also prescribes that people who are at least 65 years old, have to only pass the oral part of the state language exam when applying for citizenship.
"Any talk of the government changing the citizenship policy is unfounded. All criteria relating to Estonian language training and exam conditions, that have so far been in force for the acquisition of Estonian citizenship, must be maintained in the future. What we decided to do is to only be more humane in the matter that not everyone, including the very elderly, who still must meet all the criteria required – and I stress that language skills as well as knowledge of the Constitution is required – has to be demanded a written exam, but it can be done orally," said Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.
MP Ken-Marti Vaher (Pro Patria and Res Publica Party – IRL), however, said that the change concerning the over 65-year-olds is dilution of the language requirements. "Forgive me, this diluting of language requirements will likely result in additional devaluations, which we have heard in this hall for years. They will demand more and more revising and simplifying citizenship rules, and that is certainly not wise development," said Vaher.
The law amendments enter into force on 1 January 2016.
According to the Police and Border Guard Board, each year, an estimated 300 children of persons without citizenship are born in Estonia.
Riigikogu simplifies granting Estonian citizenship to children and elderly