United Nations

A/51/271


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

6 August 1996

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                        A/51/271
                                                              

General Assembly
Fifty-first session
Item 112 (c) of the provisional agenda*

*    A/51/150.


             HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS:  HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONS AND
              REPORTS OF SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS AND REPRESENTATIVES

           Letter dated 5 August 1996 from the Charge' d'affaires a.i.
            of the Permanent Mission of Estonia to the United Nations
                      addressed to the Secretary-General


     I have the honour to transmit herewith a memorandum on the
situation of the population of foreign origin in Estonia (see annex). 
This document is Estonia's response to the memorandum circulated at
the request of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation
to the United Nations as document A/51/189.

     I should be grateful if you would have the text of the present
letter and its annex circulated as an official document of the General
Assembly, under item 112 (c) of the provisional agenda.


                                                  (Signed)  Tiina INTELMANN   
                                                     Charge' d'affaires a.i.
                                                                              


                                     ANNEX

                 Memorandum dated 31 July 1996 from the Republic
                 of Estonia on the situation of the population
                         of foreign origin in Estonia


1.   The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs once again reiterates its
commitment to abide by international requirements on human rights and
would like to provide a detailed reply, based on facts, to the
document presented by the Russian Federation.

2.   The document in question had previously been distributed within
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the
Council of Europe, regional organizations that, owing to their
impartial monitoring activities, are well aware of the current
situation in Estonia.  These organizations did not find it necessary
to discuss this document, as they recognized the political motivations
behind the document, its inaccuracies and its disregard of facts.

3.   The claim that "the situation of the Russian-speaking population
... is tending to deteriorate" is groundless as suggested by the
reports of independent observers such as local embassies, the OSCE
mission to Estonia and other international experts, whose findings
indicated an opposite trend.

4.   To date all 330,000 applications for residence permits have been
reviewed and a favourable decision has been granted to the overall
majority of applicants.  Less than 100 persons have been denied
residency and in about 3,000 cases the review process has been
extended because the documents were incomplete upon submission.

5.   The Government of Estonia has repeatedly notified and confirmed to
the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that for those persons who
have yet to receive an alien's passport, the internal identity cards
of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) may remain as
a valid personal identification document within Estonia.

6.   The internal identity card of the former USSR was never recognized
as an international travel document nor was it ever meant to be one. 
Estonia has assisted the free movement of aliens through the
distribution of temporary travel documents (these documents have also
been distributed to Russian citizens to whom the Russian Federation
has not provided travel documents).  Major problems concerning the
issuing and use of temporary travel documents have not been
registered.

7.   The issuing of aliens' passports is hindered by the fact that
Estonia's repeated request for a listing of Russian citizens residing
in Estonia has been rejected, despite calls by the Council of Europe
and OSCE to submit such a list.  The Russian Federation is responsible
for providing its citizens with proper identity documents and
passports.  According to the numbers in the document distributed by
the Russian Federation, the Russian Federation has failed to issue
passports or identity papers to approximately half of its citizens
residing in Estonia.

8.   In the elections for local self-government, everyone who was
granted a residence permit and has lived for five years in the
locality of the local government holding elections has the right to
vote, regardless of whether the person has an alien's passport or
physically possess a residence permit.  The right of non-citizens to
participate in the elections for local self-government is a sign of
Estonia's goodwill, since it is granted to non-citizens in very few
countries.

9.   No travel restrictions have been planned for or placed on
residents of the Narva-Ivangord region, who have enjoyed, since the
restoration of Estonian independence, special simplified border
crossing procedures.  Border crossing points have been provided with a
database containing the names of all persons who have been granted an
Estonian residence permit.  These individuals can cross the
administrative border between Estonia and the Russian Federation
without any hindrance.

10.  About 9,300 decommissioned Russian military personnel and about
10,000 family members of the Russian armed forces have submitted
applications for residence permits.  An Estonian government
commission, with the participation of an OSCE representative,
completed on schedule the review of all applicants on 12 July 1996. 
Despite their belonging to a former occupying force in Estonia,
residence permits were denied only to 9 ex-military persons, while
short-term permits were provided to approximately 4,000 intelligence
officers and pensioners in their 40s and 50s.

11.  The charge that Estonia is seeking to establish a mono-ethnic
State is groundless in view of the fact that more than 330,000
settlers brought into Estonia by the Soviet authorities were granted
residence permits and were guaranteed the right to privatize their
residence at a minimal cost.  Estonia has thus provided both the legal
and economic means for their continued stay in Estonia.

12.  Estonia has never been, nor does it seek to be, a mono-ethnic
State.  Estonia has put into force the Law on Aliens, which provides
aliens the right to remain in Estonia; the Law on Citizenship, which
gives aliens residing in Estonia the right to apply immediately for
citizenship; the Law on Cultural Autonomy, which provides minorities
the right to preserve their language and culture; and the Law on Local
Elections, which provides aliens the right to participate in local
elections.  Within the Estonian Parliament, the Russian faction
continues to work actively.  In the Republic of Estonia, there are no
laws that place discriminatory restrictions on the basis of ethnicity,
language, religion or culture.  Estonia has also ratified the European
Convention on Human Rights, through which all Estonian residents have
the opportunity to raise human rights concerns with the European Human
Rights Commission and Court in Strasbourg.  Laws that concern aliens -
the Law on Aliens, the Law on Citizenship and the Language Law - were
drafted with the help of international experts and have been fully
reviewed by experts from the Council of Europe.

13.  It is not the case that Estonia hindered the establishment of
additional voting stations for the presidential elections of the
Russian Federation.  Accommodating the requests of the Russian
Government, three additional polling stations were approved.  One
additional voting station was allowed to open at Tallinn.  As the
Russian Embassy opened a consular office in Tartu, Estonia allowed
elections to proceed through that office and through the future office
of the Russian Consulate at Narva.  The latter was, for technical
reasons, placed temporarily under the jurisdiction of diplomatic
representatives.  The Russian representative to OSCE,
Ambassador Shustov, announced to the OSCE Permanent Council on
9 May 1996 that after permission had been granted to establish a
voting station at Tartu, the situation was acceptable.  The Russian
Embassy at Tallinn also expressed its satisfaction with the number of
additional voting stations permitted.

14.  Finally, we would like to draw attention to the language within
the document distributed by the Russian Federation which does not even
once name the Republic of Estonia or the Government of Estonia but
rather uses Soviet terms such as "authorities in Tallinn" or simply
"Tallinn".

15.  Estonia hopes that the United Nations members will be persuaded by
the actual situation in Estonia, as reported by independent observers,
and will not be misled by politically motivated allegations when
making their assessment of the situation in Estonia.


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