At Tuesday’s sitting, the Riigikogu did not support holding a referendum on the European Union’s migrant redistribution plan.
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Holding a Referendum regarding the European Union’s Migrant Redistribution Plan” (261 OE), submitted by the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction, proposed putting the question “Do you agree with the Republic of Estonia participating in the redistribution of the migrants arriving in the European Union?” on referendum on 23 April 2017.
The representative of the initiators of the draft Resolution Jaak Madison explained that, at the meeting in Brussels on 22 September last year, ministers of European Union countries had agreed that 120 000 people in need of international protection would be relocated among Member States. In total, the Member States will redistribute 160 000 people, and Estonia’s share would be around 550 people.
“In connection with this issue that has caused much debate in the society, confrontation, and also provocation by different parties, our proposal would significantly help release the tension in the society and give people an opportunity to say if we should participate in this plan and relocate by force people some of whom do not want to come here at all, and whom very many of our people are not expecting,” Madison said.
Member of the Constitutional Committee Mart Nutt stressed that the decision to join the European Union had been adopted at a referendum. “With that, at a referendum, a constitutional mandate was given to European Union law having supremacy. If in this case a decision that is put on referendum comes into conflict with an earlier referendum, then I would say that legal force lies with the earlier referendum that significantly amended the Constitution,” Nutt said.
Nutt said that the Constitutional Committee had proposed to reject the draft Resolution at the first reading; six members of the committee had voted in favour of the proposal and five had voted against.
In the opinion of Mihhail Stalnuhhin, who took the floor on behalf of the Centre Party faction in the debate, Estonia deserves its own national policy on the issue of immigration.
Martin Helme from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction noted that, last year, the Estonian Conservative People’s Party had collected 40 000 signatures demanding a referendum on the issue of immigration.
51 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the rejection of the draft Resolution, 14 voted against, and there were 4 abstentions.
The Riigikogu passed a Resolution:
The Riigikogu approved with 61 votes in favour (4 abstentions) the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Amendment of the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Formation of the Security Authorities Surveillance Select Committee” (286 OE), submitted by the Reform Party Faction. Peep Aru was appointed as a member of the Security Authorities Surveillance Select Committee in replacement of Martin Kukk.
The amendment was needed because Martin Kukk’s mandate as member of the Riigikogu has terminated.
The Riigikogu did not support a draft Resolution:
The Riigikogu did not support the Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Making a Proposal to the Government of the Republic” (248 OE), submitted by the Centre Party Faction. It was intended to make a proposal to the Government to establish a national system of substitute teachers, or “buffer chamber”, where teachers who do not have sufficient workload at school would come as substitute in the cases when a teacher falls ill or there is no teacher, according to their qualifications.
Representative of the initiators of the draft Resolution Märt Sults said that the average workload of teachers at general educational schools is 0.82 with coefficient 1. In Sults’s opinion, all teachers in Estonia have insufficient workload, and the underload of teachers of natural science subjects and optional subjects is still unresolved.
Sults explained the organisation of the “buffer chamber”. “Teachers who do not have sufficient workload at school are pooled in an information system by county or city district, and the state pays them to the extent of the number of the lessons that these teachers lack from the full workload at the school they usually work in. During the waiting period, the teachers in the “buffer chamber” are ready to come as substitute in the cases when a teacher falls ill or there is no teacher at a school, according to their professional training,” Sults said. He added that the “buffer chamber” would bring stability to both the community of teachers and educational institutions.
Member of the Cultural Affairs Committee Viktoria Ladõnskaja said that the Cultural Affairs Committee had discussed the draft Resolution with interest groups and had made a proposal that the interest groups continue discussing the issue among themselves and seek the necessary solutions.
Märt Sults took the floor during the debate.
The result of voting: 30 members of the Riigikogu in favour, 7 against and two abstentions. As a majority vote of the members of the Riigikogu was needed for the draft Resolution to be passed, the draft Resolution was not supported and was dropped from the proceedings.
The first reading of a Bill was adjourned in the Riigikogu:
The Bill on Amendments to the Obligation to Leave and Prohibition on Entry Act (262 SE), initiated by the Foreign Affairs Committee, will amend and specify the legal bases for imposing a prohibition on entry on aliens so that they would be in conformity with the international security situation, take into account the risk assessments of security authorities, and create a real and direct connection between the practice of prohibitions on entry and risk assessments.
The recommendations of the European Parliament and other international institutions on imposing visa sanctions on persons responsible for violating the human rights of Sergei Magnitsky and causing his death, which could be implemented also in other similar cases in the future, were also taken into account when the Bill was drafted.
The reason for drafting the Bill is the worsening of the international security situation, especially the increased threat of terrorism, and the offences by officials of some neighbouring countries of Estonia that have become more frequent in recent years, which have not been committed in the legal space of Estonia but have a cross-border nature and threaten the security situation of Estonia. The Bill also takes into account the judicial practice of some Schengen countries, like Germany, and its entering into force will ensure better protection of the legal space of Estonia against possible abuse by aliens in the future.
Mihhail Stalnuhhin from the Centre Party Faction, who took the floor during the debate, was impartial with regard to the Bill, and Henn Põlluaas from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction supported the Bill.
Due to the end of the working hours, the deliberation of the Bill will be resumed at the next sitting.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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