The recently established Estonia 200 said it supports allowing dual citizenship for all Estonians and also considers it necessary to stop issuing so-called “grey passports” to children born in Estonia.
The nascent political party is of the opinion that the provision of Estonia’s Citizenship Act which requires that an Estonian citizen who acquired a second or other citizenships at birth or later in life must give up either their Estonian or other citizenship within three years after reaching 18 years of age should be abolished.
“Dual citizenship has essentially always existed, and it has simply not been legally recognized,” Estonia 200 board member Igor Taro was quoted by spokespeople for the Riigikogu as saying. “Currently, the Citizenship Act and the Constitution contradict one another. Tens of thousands of Estonians worldwide are living in this legal confusion. The incident involving Estonians in Abkhazia, which has been passionately discussed recently, highlights the very same legal confusion.”
The party also finds that Estonia should stop issuing alien’s passports, known as “grey passports,” to children born in a free Estonia. These passports, which are held in Estonia by stateless persons, were meant to be a temporary solution for former citizens of the Soviet Union who did not want or were unable to receive Estonian or any other citizenship. The fact that there are still children born in Estonia with undetermined citizenship is not normal following the reestablishment of Estonian independence, the party said.
According to Estonia 200, ID cards with undetermined citizenship were issued to three children in 2017 and 22 children in 2016.
“It is incomprehensible why [stateless] persons with grey passports were left the option to relinquish their children’s Estonian citizenship and have them be issued the documents of stateless persons,” Taro said. “The goal of the Estonian state is to protect the rights of children born into families who have been living here permanently, and issuing of ‘grey passports’ to them does not support that objective.”
Nearly 200 children stateless by choice of parents
The Estonia 200 member noted that according to data available from the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), a total of 189 children in Estonia are stateless due to their parents’ decisions, and their right to Estonian citizenship upon becoming adults must be restored.
The party is of the opinion that children born in a free Estonia should be granted birthright citizenship regardless of the citizenship of their parents, on the condition that at least one of their parents was living permanently in Estonia before 20 August 1991.
According to the Citizenship Act, children with dual citizenship living permanently in Estonia must decide within three years after reaching 18 years of age whether to keep their Estonian citizenship or their citizenship of another country. This stipulation contradicts the Estonian Constitution, according to which no Estonian citizen by birth can be compelled to give up their Estonian citizenship.
“Our goals should be to ensure that people living in Estonia for several generations are Estonian citizens and that they have the option of growing up in Estonia as Estonian citizens,” Taro said, noting that citizens of other countries are currently born in Estonia every year despite the fact that their parents and sometimes even grandparents have been living here permanently. “With this amendment, we as a country would clearly declare that these children are the children of Estonia, regardless of what citizenship decision has been made by their parents at some point.”