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Friday 28.07.2017 | Name days: Cecīlija, Cilda
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Estonian prime minister suggests giving citizenship to long-term residents

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUNon-citizens who have been living in Estonia for more than 25 years should be given citizenship, said Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas in an interview to LTV programme De Facto.

«It is my party’s programme. There are 80,000 people with grey passports in Estonia. It is not normal for so many people to be living in Estonia without citizenship. It is a problem for our society,» Ratas told De Facto.

He added that it is not possible to realize this initiative within the current coalition. It will be, however, his party’s pre-election promise for the 2019 parliamentary elections.

De Facto reports that what coalition partners say allows for the conclusion – simplification of the naturalization process is possible. Estonian Foreign Affairs Minister Sven Mikser mentioned in a conversation with LTV: «There will be no zero variant for citizenship. But this does not mean the current situation will not change. A discussion is possible. For example, the current coalition’s agreement provides for a simplified citizenship acquisition for children one of the parents of which is a non-citizen.»

Three months ago, two parties of the Estonian government – Social Democratic Party and Pro Patria and Res Publica Union – pushed out the Reform Party, their partner, from the government. As a result of this, representatives of the Centre Party were welcomed to the government after ten years of serving in opposition.

Like Latvia’s Harmony, Estonian centrists have a cooperation agreement with United Russia. Ratess told De Facto, however, that this agreement has neither been in play, nor has it been terminated in the past ten years.

The agreement with Russia’s ruling political party is not the only stumbling stone of centrists’ foreign policy. Estonian MEP Jana Toma and Latvian MEP Andrejs Mamikins have visited Bashar al-Assad together. They also take part in Russia state talk shows and support Russia’s activities in Syria.

De Facto concludes that the majority of Centre Party’s voters are Estonia’s Russian-speaking residents and this fact partially ties the hands of the government. Termination of the agreement with United Russia may help open doors for a new pro-Kremlin party that could potentially take away votes. But Jana Tima and her associates are very popular politicians – her exclusion from the party would mean loss of voters.

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