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