Lithuanian Seimas committee proposes allowing dual citizenship for countrymen with NATO passports

June 4, 2008 at 3:36 pm 12 comments

One of the issues relevant only to Lithuania is widely discussed in the world.  Due to a large Lithuanian Diaspora abroad the Lithuanian Dual Citizenship is heatedly discussed from Australia to Canada, from Norway to South Africa.  In the USA alone some 1 mln are claiming to be of the Lithuanian descent.  Only in the last 18 years some 400.000 have left Lithuania for a short time or for a good.  Having in mind the tragic Lithuania’s demographical situation it would be logical to encourage the Lithuanians abroad to maintain their link to Lithuania.  Nevertheless, some political groups for various reasons don’t want that.

The Constitution currently allows dual citizenship as rare exceptions, however this issue is especially relevant to Lithuanians living abroad, as by accepting citizenship of their country of residence, they are deprived of their right to a Lithuanian passport.

In the autumn of 2006, the Constitutional Court found that the country’s main law provides for dual citizenship as rare exceptions, declaring laws allowing dual citizenship as running counter the Constitution.

However, today the Seimas Human Rights Committee approved a provision to the new Citizenship Law by allowing a possibility of dual citizenship to Lithuanians who are not only European Union (EU) passport holders, but also those of NATO member states.

According to the BSN, the committee’s Chairman Arminas Lydeka noted that this is not the only group, which will be granted the possibility of holding passports of two countries, i.e. Lithuania and some other country, adding that there a seven such clauses, therefore countrymen not living in a country pertaining to either NATO or the EU community, would also be allowed dual citizenship under certain circumstances.

Political deportees and prisoners as well as three generations of their descendants make up a separate group of people, who will be granted the right to hold a Lithuanian passport as well as that of their country of residence. Lydeka noted that this provision is especially relevant to Lithuanians living in Russia, Kazakhstan and other countries, where Lithuanians ended up after deportations implemented in the then Soviet Union.

The third group of persons to be allowed dual citizenship encompasses those, who left Lithuania during the Soviet rule (1940-1990) as well as three generations of their descendants.

“This is of most relevance to persons of Lithuanian descent living in Australia, Germany, and, of course, those living in the United States of America”, Lydeka told BNS.

The fourth group is composed of traditionally numerous communities of people of Lithuanian descent living in countries sharing a common border with Lithuania. , i.e. Lithuanians living in Belarus, Poland and Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave will also have the right to dual citizenship.

Dual citizenship will also be retained by citizens already holding passports of two countries, granted in by special decree of the president. This is the fifth group provisioned in the law.

The sixth group, BNS remained, is composed of the offspring of Lithuanian citizens. The committee agreed that offspring born to Lithuanian citizens in any part of the world will be granted the right to hold both a Lithuanian passport and that of the country of residence. This provision is relevant to children of Lithuanians living in Ireland or the US, as they apply the so called soli principle, meaning that a person acquires citizenship of that country by birth in its territory, regardless of the will of their parents. On the other hand, according to Lithuanian legislation prior to the validation of this law, the young Lithuanians automatically were deprived of the possibility of getting a Lithuanian passport.

And finally, the last and seventh group would theoretically consist of Lithuanians living in any nation, which would sign an international agreement with Lithuania, foreseeing that their citizens living in Lithuania would be granted the right to hold its passport, in exchange for the same right to be granted to Lithuanians living in the country in question. Lithuania has no agreements of a similar nature with any other country at this point.

A draft bill earlier prepared by a taskforce composed by the Seimas directorate provisioned that the first group of persons with a right to dual citizenship would consist only of Lithuanians, who are EU passport holders, however this provision infuriated Lithuanians living abroad, who felt discriminated.  Hence, it is a good start, lets wait and see!

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Entry filed under: Baltic States, Great Britain, Lithuania, Northern Europe, Norway, USA. Tags: .

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. bieksia  |  June 4, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    You’ve done it again!
    Another well written article of tremenous importance to the Lithuanian Community living abroad. My only complaint is that your English language blog is so addictive and thurough that I find myself spending less time sorting through the Lithuanian Language news sites.

    This is positive news for many. I hope it becomes law. Lithuania cannot afford to exclude those living abroad. Exclusion seldom produces constructive results.

    I frequently refer to ‘Lituanica’ and post links in many different
    sites related to Lithuania. And I am very impressed with you as an individual. Not long ago I half jokingly created a post commending your efforts and integrity. And suggested that
    you would be of tremendous value to all Lithuanians should you
    somehow decide to serve your country in the capacity of an elected offical. If you haven’t entertained the thought I would seriously recommend that you think about it. I’m certain that many who are familiar with your writting would approve of such endeavors. As a man who is greatly conscerned about all issues affecting Lithuania, I would welcome the day when
    I hear your first adress to the Lithuanian Parliament.

    I’ve mentioned previously that our new English language forum for discussions about Lithuania and Lithuanians has been created and our doors are open to new members and distinguised guests such a you. Traffic will be a little sparse
    until the membership increases. Never the less I would be honored should you decide to join us and also share your thoughts and Ideas. Even if only to complain about the abundance of weeds on your neighbors lawn. I’m certain that you’ll find an way to make even a small story such as that very interesting for our future members.

    http://forums.delphiforums.com/LTenglishForum/start

    Reply
  • 2. mel  |  June 5, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Dual citizenship is not a good idea at this point. First of all, there is no way you can restrict which country you can dual with — so what happens when hundreds of thousands take up a second passport (Polish, Belarusian, Russian, etc) to do things like tax evasion. Plus, for those in the diaspora to pick up a Lithuanian passport is nothing more than a EU work permit. Until Lithuania is more mature of an economy and political state, they can’t expect to do Ireland overnight. But for those who are smart enough to do it, they are already holding 2 or more passports…

    Reply
  • 3. Alan Hendrixson  |  June 6, 2008 at 11:03 am

    I’m a United States citizen married to a Lithuanian citizen and living in Lithuania (and by the way a permanent resident of Lithuania). My children were both born here. Because I’m a US citizen and because of US law, my children are automatically US citizens, automatically depriving them of the citizenship of their mother and the land of their birth. Do you think that is fair, Mel? I personally think that this law would be a huge step forward for the country. It’s the job of law enforcement to take care of tax evaders and other n’er-do-wells. And it’s the duty of the nation of Lithuania to take care of the people who rightfully deserve a Lithuanian passport. Thanks for the post, Ruslanas.

    Reply
  • 4. Vidas  |  June 6, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    There’s an additional dynamic involved that maybe Mel isnt aware of. At the end of WW2, a substantial portion of the Lithuanian population ended up being scattered across the globe both as political refuges and involuntary exile in places like Siberia. Their citizenship was taken from them when Lithuania ceased to exist after incorporation into the soviet union. The people ended up taking citizenship of the nations they then became residents of. With the restoration of Lithuanian independence – there should by all rights be a means of resuming their status as citizens of Lithuania. This was a status granted upon them by their Constitution and is recognized by international law. Their status as citizens should be theirs by right of birth and not subject to additional qualifications and/or conditions.

    Those who seek to oppose this citizenship by birthright do so by essentially refusing to acknowledge that the current Republic has obligations to the citizens of the interwar Republic. An immature Republic like Lithuania today is in no way sufficiently established to deny its own people and history.

    Implying that dual citizenship is going to be a permit to cruise the EU for menial labor jobs or the means to evade taxes cheapens the idea of citizenship in general and really isnt a serious consideration nor a serious point of discussion taking place in Seimas.

    Reply
  • 5. bieksia  |  June 7, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Mel,

    I seriously doubt that ‘hundreds of thousands’ of Russians, Poles or otherwise would opt to claim dual citizenship. Even if urged by their etnic homeland in a ploy to upset the status quo. First of all, most people are ignorant of such issues and too busy managing their own lives to even care. It matter’s only to Lithuanians currently living in Lithuania and those living abroad. This is just a scare tactic used to by politicians to rally the ultra-nationalists and the jealous for selfish political recognition.

    Even if Lithuania actually felt threatened by that extremely unlikely scenario the could put a near stop to it by requiring filing
    fee’s. Even the U.S. charges collects hundreds of dollars per person when applying for citizenship. The thought of a $200
    fee would stop those who would apply for less than honorable reasons.

    Vidas summed it up best, no reason to repeat hs words. Alan’s
    post serves to remind us that while ‘Political Games’ are being played out it is usually at the expense of real, living,breathing people and often their families.

    Reply
  • 6. bieksia  |  June 7, 2008 at 7:41 am

    My thought’s on this subject have been posted in more detail at the link below. I don’t want to overstay my welcome here in the pages of Lituanica. I prefer to let others have their chance to be heard. Especially in regards to such a serious matter

    http://forums.delphiforums.com/LTenglishForum/messages

    Reply
  • 7. Vidas  |  June 10, 2008 at 8:00 am

    In all fairness to Mel – there is serious concern amongst a segment of the Lithuanian political “spectrum” that easing of dual citizenship regulation may allow those who have some token level of attachment to the Lithuanian nation the means to establish Lithuanian citizenship. There’s an old American political saying that the Devil is in the details (and that money is the mothers milk of politics – but thats another discussion altogether….)

    The detail that this argument ignores is that Lithuania has previously granted liberal access to Lithuanian citizenship to those who, regardless of nationality, have real roots in Lithuania. In fact, dual citizenship was not contested prior to the Constitutional Courts finding of a couple years ago – and even then, those who had established dual citizenship up to that point were not required to renounce non Lithuanian citizenship.

    Of the former soviet republics – Lithuanias citizenship rules as they apply to former citizens of the soviet union are quite generous. For those who were citizens of the interwar republic that fled the soviet sphere nations and settled in the West – the rules are completely different and largely exclude and deny them access to Lithuanian citizenship. This isnt so much a travesty of justice as it is a tragedy for the Lithuanian nation and national identity.

    Reply
  • 8. Jean-Michel  |  June 22, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Ačiu labai for this post. I am french married with a lithuanian. My 2 children have currently only the FR passport. My wife speaks lithuanian with them and they have daily contact with lithuanian culture through TV, friends and familly. Thus I see not reason to deprive them of the lithuanian citizenship.
    My lithuanian is still too poor to understand the subtility of the current discussion, so thank again to keep us inform in english on such an important issue.

    Reply
  • 9. Gittoplo  |  June 30, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Can someone clarify something for please. Is it possible to have lithuanian and russian passport at the same time? I am about to receive a lt passport in 1 month when a document confirming I am no longer russian citizen arrives. In the light of the new legislation, do I have to wait, can I just go now, get lt passport and keep my russian pass?

    Reply
  • 10. Sam  |  June 30, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    I was born in Lithuania in 1950 , left in 1969 for Israel speak Lithanian and want to restore Lithuanian citizenship to make business in Lithuania .
    Does the new law applies to me ?

    Reply
  • […] 16, 2008 As the BNS reported, on 15 July, Seimas supported the presidential veto and dismissed the Citizenship Law that the parliament itself had passed a few weeks […]

    Reply
  • 12. Abdul basit  |  October 4, 2010 at 10:23 am

    I am Pakistan national and interesting in getting Lithuanian passport I lived 6 year in Al Mata and I and my family member speak russian well. Can I apply for your good country passort

    Reply

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