Archive for July, 2008
The president’s press service announced that the President will not take part in the opening of the Olympic Games, however plans to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) due this autumn.
The same press release stated that having noted that hosting the Olympic Games is a great honour and responsibility for any country, as it thus becomes committed to maintain and respect the spirit and principles of the Olympics, Adamkus wished China the best of luck in organizing this global athletic event.
The Lithuanian Head-of-State also hopes that the Olympic Games will help the world to become more familiar with China’s rich history, culture and people, and China’s opening up to the world and the dialogue and progress currently in development will be successfully continued after the games as well.
As the president decided against going to Beijing, the BNS noted that the Lithuania’s PM Kirkilas will be the highest-ranking Lithuanian official present in the Olympic Games. The prime minister will be visiting in China together with his wife August 17-25th.
In addition Mr Kirkilas observed that the president’s decision not to attend the Olympics is the only possible political move to draw the attention to the Tibet issue. The PM said to the BNS:”I see the president’s move as a certain political move of support to Tibet’s independence aspiration. The president is not attending the opening ceremony, and participation in the Olympic Games in general is an entirely different thing. I am a guest invited by the International Olympic Committee and I intend to be there to support our athletes”.
However the Presidential palace made no comment to this remark. Moreover, the small detail might be an answer to the silence. The Presidential palace issued the statement about Adamkus’ decision soon after a non-formal freedom for Tibet support group operating in Lithuania presented the presidential palace with over 1,300 signatures calling Him to abstain from the Olympics in Beijing.
This is not the first time when Adamkus ignores big celebrations. One of them was when Mr President declined an invitation from President Putin to celebrate 60th Anniversary of the end of the World War Two, in Moscow.
Still, one of the listeners on the radio, when commenting on the Adamkus decision not to go to Beijing was convinced that the President is not going because he has an environmentalist background and does not wish to see pollution in Beijing.
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 ago.
The BNS writes that according to that law, children of Lithuanian emigrants born abroad and Lithuanian nationals who are acquiring citizenship of EU and NATO countries would be able to have two passports.
However, at the same time, the parliament agreed to the amendments to the Citizenship Law as suggested by the president, which amendments restrict the conditions of granting dual citizenship a lot.
According the BNS from now on, dual citizenship can be an option for children of Lithuanian citizens born abroad, dual citizenship can also be granted to citizens of the countries with which Lithuania has dual citizenship agreements. However, so far, Lithuania has not inked any such agreements.
When approving of the president’s draft, the provision that Lithuanian nationals are acquiring citizenship of EU and NATO countries would be able to have two passports was dropped out.
In several weeks’ time, the parliament had changed its views of the Citizenship Law radically — on June 30 the parliament’s bill was supported by 78 members of parliament.
On July 15, most of them had a different opinion and went along with Adamkus’s suggestions. 65 MPs voted in favour of the bill as proposed by the president.
As the BNS reminds, by vetoing the Law last week the president stressed that according to conclusions on the bill, prepared by attorneys of law, it “goes against the Constitution and also goes around a strict resolution made by the Constitutional Court.”
In the words of the president, the new Citizenship Law as adopted by the parliament disregarded the constitutional requirement that a Lithuanian citizen can also be a citizen of another state only in exceptional cases. On the contrary – the Law was nothing but enhancing the possibilities to obtain and preserve dual citizenship.
In the fall 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.
It is a sad day for Lithuania. However, the Constitution cannot be breached. Furthermore, I have to agree with the President who pointed out that by granting the nationality to the Lithuanians in the NATO and the EU countries the Law would discriminate against those Lithuanians who live outside of those military and political clubs. This would also include the Brazilian Lithuanians with who the President is meeting today.
Hence, in order to alter this sad situation the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania should be changed. The most strait forward way is to call a referendum. Here I see a proactive action of the Lithuanian émigrés in Lithuania. One step is to gather 300.000 signatures in three months to call a referendum, another step is to make the people to go to the polling stations to vote. According to the very strict Lithuanian legislative base in order for the referendum which aims to change the Constitution in order to succeed some 50% of all voters have to express their opinion.
I would not doubt that if referendum would be valid it would have a positive result for the double nationality However, the most difficult part is to make sure that 50% of those who are eligible to vote would turn up in the voting station. Since almost every Lithuanian family has a relative living abroad the émigrés could lobby them to participate in the referendum. Furthermore, I am convinced that the Lithuanian nationals living abroad would also actively participate in voting.
There are other way is to lobby the political parties, but some of the parties are not too keen on the additional voters who would more likely to vote for the centre right political parties but not for the Ex Communists Social Democrats, the Peasants, and the populists of the Labour or the Paksas’ Order and Justice.
This is where the electronic voting system would came in handy. The most realistic time for the referendum could be the presidential elections in 2009.
Hence, where is a will there is a way. However, the Constitution, how inappropriate it is at the moment should be respected.
Well, of course there is another alternative of moving back to Lithuania…