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Right Against Right: Membership and Justice in Post-Soviet Estonia
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
1999 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The dissertation investigates the problematique of justice involved in the distribution of initial membership in post-Soviet Estonia. The inquiry includes both an interpretation of the prevailing moral arguments and a normative discussion of what a just solution that takes both arguments into consideration would look like. The former, interpretive part is based on the claim that the best reading of the Estonian membership dilemma is made against the backdrop of just war theory. The Estonian, 'restorationist' argument proceeds from the claim that Estonia is a victim of an unjust war, a Soviet aggression. The aggression involved occupation and annexation of Estonia in 1940 and forcible colonization during the years of Soviet rule. The aggression is claimed by the restorationists to have decisive consequences for the status that different inhabitants in post-Soviet Estonia should be granted. Persons who were citizens prior to the aggression and their descendants are claimed to be legal and legitimate citizens. Those persons who migrated to Estonia during Soviet rule and their descendants are considered illegal and illegitimate immigrants who possess no right to unconditional membership. Instead they must apply for conditioned residence permits and be naturalized as citizens if they want to become members.

The moral argument of the non-citizens should similarly be seen in the light of just war theory. The fact that the majority of the non-citizens obtained their equal citizenship rights in Estonia innocently - in good faith, through forced labor migration or by the fate of being born there - makes exclusion from unconditional, initial membership arbitrary. In an analogy to the restorationist just war argument, it is claimed that non-citizens are innocently punished for the crimes of the Soviet state. They take on the shape of the innocent civilian victims of an unjust war, the violation of whom is also unjust. Both the arguments of the restorationists and the non-citizens must be considered tenable and legitimate. Hence the just solution that is recommended in the book takes both arguments into consideration. This solution would involve restoration of the citizenship of the pre-Soviet citizenry and their descendants. It would also involve a right to option of unconditional, initial membership for the great majority of the Soviet era migrants and their descendants who have obtained their membership rights innocently. Furthermore, the Estonian membership issue is illustrative of a general, moral dilemma of delimiting membership in new or restored states. The moral principles concerning the right of violated nations to restore their national rights and their citizenry and the right of innocent individuals to acquire initial membership rights unconditionally should therefore be able to guide a just solution of other, similar cases as well.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Political Science, Stockholm University , 1999. , 222 p.
Stockholm studies in politics, ISSN 0346-6620 ; 65
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-64077ISBN: 91-7153-951-4OAI: diva2:454865
Public defence
1999-06-04, 10:00
Available from: 2011-11-08 Created: 2011-11-08 Last updated: 2011-11-08Bibliographically approved

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Reinikainen, Jouni
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