Republic of Estonia
Head of state: Toomas Hendrik Ilves
Head of government: Taavi Rõivas

Legislation allowing unmarried, including same-sex, couples to register their cohabitation was due to enter into force on 1 January 2016. The authorities took significant steps to reduce statelessness, especially among children, but around 83,000 people remained stateless. The number of asylum applications remained low.


The Cohabitation Act, passed in October 2014, allowing unmarried, including same-sex, couples to register their cohabitation, was due to enter into force on 1 January 2016. However, the authorities' failure to undertake all required preparatory work, especially amendments to related laws, was likely to undermine its positive impact for some time.


According to data from the Ministry of Interior, 83,364 people resident in the country remained stateless as of 1 September, over 6% of the population. The vast majority were Russian speakers.

The authorities made significant steps to address statelessness, especially among children. On 21 January parliament approved several amendments to the Citizenship Act, due to enter into force on 1 January 2016. The amendments aimed to facilitate the acquisition of Estonian citizenship, for example by providing for its automatic acquisition by children born to stateless parents.

In February the Estonian language requirements to obtain citizenship were simplified for applicants aged over 65, allowing this group to take only an oral test and not a written exam.

Unemployment remained significant among ethnic minorities, perpetuating concern that Estonian language requirements for all public employees and private sector jobs that interface with the public were placing them at a disadvantage.


The number of asylum applications, although still low, increased over 2014, with about 200 received in the first nine months of 2015. While most asylum-seekers gained access to Estonian territory by crossing the country's borders irregularly, concern remained about denial of access to territory and asylum at official border crossings.

In early September, there was an arson attack against the only asylum-seekers' reception centre in the country, in Vao village, Lääne-Viru County. Although no serious injuries were reported, about 50 people, including several children, were sleeping in the centre at the time. Investigations were ongoing at the end of the year.

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