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The Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet replied to the interpellation concerning emigration statistics and protection of the interests of Estonian citizens (No 443), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Lauri Laasi, Evelyn Sepp, Ain Seppik, Aivar Riisalu and Tiit Kuusmik on 10 May.
Paet referred to the European Parliament elections as an example when voter’s cards had been sent to 38 501 Estonian residents permanently residing in foreign states. This figure does include Estonian citizens who are under 18 years of age and are residing in a foreign state for a specified term. At the same time, Paet agreed that the number of Estonian citizens in the population register is certainly significantly different from the number of Estonian citizens actually residing in foreign states. It is impossible to say how many Estonian citizens are actually residing abroad because no Act of Estonia provides that people are obliged to register their permanent or long-term stay abroad or change of residence to another state. “The Acts of Estonia do not require that, and therefore it is impossible to keep very accurate records,” explained the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Paet confirmed that, in order to improve the quality of the data of the population register as regards Estonian citizens residing in foreign states, very close cooperation is made with the population register. According to the explanations of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, consular services were provided on 350 234 occasions through representations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last year. This includes the Estonian citizens and permanent residents who have been travelling and who have had a problem. It also includes the people who reside abroad permanently or for a longer term as well as for a short term. According to the Consular Act, our representations provide consular assistance not only to Estonian citizens but also to holders of the alien’s passport issued in Estonia.
In Paet’s words, about a half of those who have emigrated from Estonia are those who have left Estonia permanently or temporarily after the beginning of the 1990s. The remaining half is those who have left Estonia in earlier decades and their descendants.
In Paet’s opinion, the free movement inevitably means that people use this opportunity. He wished that people who go to study return to Estonia. At the same time, it is understandable that many of them create a family and set up their new home not in Estonia but in the home country of their spouse or university.
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On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Art Works Ordering Act (756 SE), initiated by the Government, was included in the agenda of Wednesday’s sitting.
The Riigikogu Press Service