Estonia: `Dual citizenship implies dual loyalty'

The article "Estonian Parliament Grapples With Transition to Democracy," Oct. 8, treats some highly subjective allegations as fact, giving the article less authority. The author states, "Moscow has condemned Estonia's stringent citizenship requirements as discriminatory," without qualifying what he or Moscow consider "stringent." Estonia asks for a two-year residency and knowledge of the basic Estonian language with command of a 1,500-word vocabulary. This is a rather liberal standard in the context of m ost European democracies.

What the Russians really seem to object to is the obligation to choose between Russian citizenship and Estonian citizenship. Dual citizenship implies dual loyalty, and most nations abhor such status. The excuse that Estonian is a difficult language is curious in the context of language requirements of nations like the United States. American officials do not exempt Chinese, Russians, or people from Afghanistan from having to learn English to attain US citizenship, despite the strangeness of the language to these people of diverse linguistic backgrounds. The author and numerous other Western kibitzers presume to hold the Baltic nations to standards for citizenship which are more liberal than their own. This seems grossly unfair. V. Racenis, Kenmore, N.Y.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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