MOSCOW - Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves is for a dialogue with Russia on the shifting of the monument to the Soviet Liberator Soldier in Tallinn.
“I’d prefer that a solution of this question would include a dialogue with the Russian side. But there was virtually no dialogue, and, therefore, if an approach changes, we can discuss this question,” he emphasized, replying to questions by readers of BBC and the Russian Rambler Internet portal.
Ilves noted at the same time that “if the Estonian government decides to do something in the country’s territory, it has the right to do so, as Russia has the right to decide what it can do in its territory”.
According to the president, there is some misinformation on the position of Russian-speaking residents of Estonia.
“The law on citizenship in Estonia is much more liberal than in many other states of the European Union. Other countries have more stringent demands to a period of living. Estonia would not have been able to join the European Union, if it had not met the EU standards,” he noted.
Ilves assured that language requirements are “quite insignificant” to obtain the Estonian citizenship. At the same time, “if a man is born in Estonia, and he has no citizenship, he can receive it automatically if he wants, and there is no need for him to pass a language examination”, noted the head of state.
According to the president’s data, slightly over 120,000 people have neither Russian, nor Estonian citizenship. “I believe that all – Russians, Ukrainians or Azerbaijanis living in Estonia – are my fellow countrymen,” the president emphasized.
Turning to the question of deployment of American military bases in the Estonian territory, Ilves said that “nobody has requested so far for a permission to deploy a NATO military base” in Estonia, but “if such a request is received, this question will be debated by the Estonian parliament, and a voting will be held”.
“Estonia has already NATO bases : our country is a member of the North Atlantic alliance, and, therefore, all objects of Estonian defence forces are NATO objects,” he stated.