711.60i4/5

The Minister in Estonia ( Coleman ) to the Secretary of State

No. 6440

Sir: Referring to the Department’s Instruction No. 583 of December 1, 1928, calling the Legation’s attention to the Joint Resolution of Congress, approved by the President on May 28, 1928, and instructing the Legation to bring this Resolution to the attention of the Estonian Government with a view to the conclusion of an appropriate convention between the United States and Estonia, I have the honor to transmit herewith copies of a note, dated September 23, 1929, from the Estonian Foreign Office, setting forth the views of the Estonian Government concerning this subject.

I have [etc.]

F. W. B. Coleman
[Page 450]
[Enclosure]

The Estonian Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Schmidt ) to the American Minister ( Coleman )

Excellency: With a Note dated January 9 [7], 1929, Your Excellency kindly transmitted through the Minister for Foreign Affairs for the consideration of the Estonian Government a draft Treaty of Naturalization between Estonia and the United States. In the same Note, in compliance with instructions from Your Excellency’s Government, the desire was expressed that, pending the conclusion of the treaty, the Estonian Government would permit temporarily persons born in Estonia and naturalized in the United States, as well as persons born in the United States of Estonian parents, to visit Estonia without being required to perform military service or other acts of allegiance. In reply now I have the honour to bring the following to Your Excellency’s notice.

The principles set forth in the draft treaty of naturalization are on some points in disagreement with the stipulations of the existing Estonian Law on Nationality. The second paragraph of Art. 1 of the draft treaty, for instance, provides that “nationals of Estonia who have been or shall be naturalized in territory of the United States shall be held by Estonia to have lost their nationality”. According to Par. 20 of the Estonian Law on Nationality the loss of Estonian nationality is conditional on obtaining authorization from the Estonian Minister of the Interior. The application itself for authorization to renounce shall be accompanied by a certificate concerning foreign naturalization. Consequently Estonian nationals who have been naturalized in the United States and have not applied for and obtained authorization to renounce their original nationality are considered under Estonian law to be Estonian nationals, while according to the provisions of the draft treaty the fact itself of their naturalization in the United States would entail the loss of their original nationality.

Further, Art. IV of the draft treaty provides that “a person born in the territory of one party of parents who are nationals of the other party, and having the nationality of both parties under their laws, shall not, if he has his habitual residence, that is, the place of his general abode, in the territory of the state of his birth, be held liable for military service or any other act of allegiance during a temporary stay in the territory of the other party”. According to Par. 2, p. 3, of the Estonian Law on Nationality, children born without the territory of Estonia of a father who is Estonian national are held to be Estonian nationals. At the same time Par. 6 of the same law expressly precludes the possibility of dual nationality by refusing to admit that a person who, under the existing law, is considered an Estonian national, can [Page 451] simultaneously have the nationality of another Power. The Estonian Law on Military Service, Par. 1, however, stipulates that all male nationals of Estonia are held liable for military service. They have, nevertheless, the possibility, under the provisions of Par. 7 of the same law, to renounce, with the consent of the Estonian Minister of War, their Estonian nationality before they have done their military service.

The Estonian Government, in sharing the desire of the Government of the United States to reach through an agreement the settlement of questions arising from dual nationality, attach, however, great importance to the fact that the rules to be applied in cases of dual nationality between different States were of uniform character. They think it, therefore, advisable to delay further negotiations on the conclusion of a Treaty of Naturalization until the international Convention on nationality now in elaboration under auspices of the League of Nations assumes definitive form. At the same time I have the regret to inform Your Excellency that the Estonian Government, in view of the stipulations of the Estonian Laws on Nationality and on Military Service referred above to, are not in a position to permit temporarily persons born in Estonia and naturalized in the United States, as well as persons born in the United States of Estonian parents, who have not applied for and obtained authorization to renounce their Estonian nationality, to visit Estonia without being required to perform military service or other acts of allegiance. In practice persons, who have presented an appropriate certificate required under Estonian law to prove their naturalization in a foreign country, have experienced no difficulty to renounce their Estonian nationality.

I avail myself [etc.]

Schmidt

[Further negotiations (1930–1935) with the Governments of Estonia and Latvia failed to effect the conclusion of the treaties desired. A treaty with Lithuania was signed October 18, 1937 (Department of State Treaty Series No. 936).]