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A Petition Has Been Submitted To The European Parliament In Support Of Non-Citizens With More Than 20,000 Signatures

Toom, Ždanoka and Mamikins have petitioned the European Parliament for support for non-citizens with more than 20,000 signatures. MEPs Jana Toom (Estonia), Tatjana Ždanoka and Andrejs Mamikins submitted a petition on the rights of non-citizens to the Committee on Petitions. More than 20,000 Estonians and Latvians have left their signatures under the petition.
“Non-citizens actively communicated with their deputies, asked how to properly sign the petition! The number of signatures collected shows that many people who do not have the right to vote feel despised. As you know, the mandates of the European Parliament are also divided at their expense! ” emphasized Estonian MEP Jana Toom.
J.Toom, T.Ždanoka and A.Mamikins demanded an end to injustice against non-citizens. Main requirements: to allow non-Estonian citizens to be members of political parties and to participate in European Parliament elections, Latvian non-citizens to be granted the right to vote in local government and European Parliament elections.
The petition mentions that at the beginning of 2016, there were 82,341 non-citizens living in Estonia and 252,017 in Latvia. “These are huge numbers, considering that the total population of Latvia is about 2 million, but in Estonia – about 1.3 million. These people are not allowed to vote in European elections, although their number is taken into account when dividing Members’ seats. In addition, when compared to other EU countries, the right of these people to participate in political life is severely restricted, ”emphasized Andrejs Mamikins, Member of the European Parliament.
In Estonia, starting from April 9, in Latvia – on April 14, both Estonian and Latvian citizens and any permanent resident (regardless of the color of the passport cover) could sign under the petition. Supporters of the petition include people from Belgium, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, the United States, Canada and even Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
“My colleagues and I are very grateful to everyone who supported the petition, including the initiative groups,” stressed Tatjana Ždanoka. “We are optimistic because we have the strong support of our colleagues here in Brussels. In order for the European Parliament to call on the European Commission and the EU Member States to guarantee the right to vote in European elections and citizens’ initiatives, we lacked only 16 colleagues (a total of 751 MEPs) to approve the resolution of 8 September 2015. Now that more than 20,000 signatures are on the table of the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions, the scales should be moving firmly in our direction! ”
T.Ždanoka reminded that this is already the fourth petition on the situation of non-citizens of Estonia and Latvia since the accession of both countries to the European Union. The first petition was submitted by T. Ždanoka in 2004 (a hearing took place in 2005), followed by a hearing in 2008 and 2012. As up to this term, Ms Ždanoka was the only MEP to defend the rights of non-citizens, previous petitions have not been successful. “This time there are many of us! In addition to my political force, the Greens / European Free Alliance, the petition has also been supported by Liberals, where Estonian MEP Jana Toom works and the second largest group in the European Parliament, the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, of which Latvian MEP Andrejs Mamikins is a member, ”stressed T. Ždanoka.
Following the formal procedure of the European Parliament, the Committee on Petitions is due to decide shortly when the petition submitted by the Estonian and Latvian Members will be considered. “A hearing on non-citizens’ rights will be mandatory,” said Cecilia Vikström, a Swedish MEP who chaired the Committee on Petitions, accepting people’s signatures.
Representatives of the petitioners will also be invited to a hearing. One of them is Sergey Stepanov, editor-in-chief of Narvas Avīze and a non-citizen of Estonia, who admitted that he had signed the petition because the initiative would bring a large group of people closer to participating in Estonian and European political life.
All three MEPs emphasized that the Committee on Petitions could draw up its own report or draft EP resolution: “It is possible to organize a visit to find out the circumstances and refer the matter to the European Ombudsman. Following the examination of the petition, a commission may be set up to investigate breaches of EU law. “

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