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The National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu proposes to ease the citizenship requirement for the young members of the Defence League, so that 7 to 15 year old permanent residents of Estonia who have no citizenship would be allowed to join the organisation.

“Before April this year, a permanent resident without the citizenship of Estonia could become a Young Eagle. We are now restoring this possibility retroactively,” the Chairman of the National Defence Committee Mati Raidma explained.

The Estonian Defence League Act of 1 April this year allows 7 to 18 year old citizens of Estonia to become members of the organisation. The Statutes of the Young Eagles established under the earlier Estonian Defence League Act also allowed permanent residents without the citizenship of Estonia to become members.

Initially, the Social Democratic Party Faction proposed to amend the Estonian Defence League Act by allowing 7 to 18 year old individuals without the Estonian citizenship but with a long-term or permanent residence permit to join the youth organisations of the Defence League.

“The National Defence Committee proposed the age limit of 16 years because the Citizenship Act allows an individual of at least 15 years of age to apply for the Estonian citizenship,” Raidma explained the decision.

The Bill on Amendments to the Defence League Act (458 SE) will undergo its second reading in the Riigikogu on Thursday, and if this is concluded the final vote will take place on 18 December.

The Defence League has nearly 13,000 members. Including its women’s and youth organisations – the Women’s Home Defence, the Young Eagles and the Home Daughters – the League has over 21,000 voluntary members.

The Riigikogu Press Service