Lithuanian Seimas restricted conditions of dual citizenship

July 16, 2008 at 1:55 pm 11 comments

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…


Entry filed under: Baltic States, EU, Lithuania, Northern Europe, USA.

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ed  |  July 17, 2008 at 3:35 am

    When the new law proposed by the president will come into effect?
    Does this new law still allows refugees from Soviet Union era and their family to get dual citizenship? All the sources are in lithuanian and there is no online translation avaliable.

  • 2. Ruslanas Iržikevičius  |  July 17, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Dear Ed,

    Thank you for reading the blog. From what I understand the dual nationality applies to those who were the Lithuanian citizens before the 1940 June deportations, their children and pro children. It seems so, but you should check it with the authorities. I think the best way would be to write to the Lithuanian embassy in the county you live in.

    Best regards,

  • 3. richardlith  |  July 18, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I think it is 1941 June deportations. A typing error I hope.

  • 4. Ruslanas Iržikevičius  |  July 18, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Sorry, yes June 1941.

    Thank you,

    Best regards,

  • 5. doni  |  July 22, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    welcome back! 😀
    i’m so excited to be hearing from you again.
    thanks for your posts!

  • 6. Global Voices Online » Lithuania: Citizenship Law  |  July 23, 2008 at 1:50 am

    […] comments on the problems surrounding the adoption of a new Lithuanian citizenship law. Posted by Vilhelm […]

  • 7. Rachel  |  August 9, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    This is news to me, when I lived in Lithuania in 2002 I knew grandchildren of emigres who had both Lithuanian and American passports! As you say, there is always the option of moving back to Lithuania, but in a globalised world people are moving around all the time.

    I know people from America, Australia and other countries of Lithuanian extraction who would love to hold a Lithuanian passport as a symbol of their identity, however they still have much love for the respective countries in which they grew up. An identity crisis, as it were. (Although I cannot be denied that many people who grew up in Western countries do not want to move back to Lithuania because of economic reasons)

  • 8. Andrew  |  August 28, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Fascinating post.

    I understand that one can claim nationality back to Great Grandparents. Do you know if this is true?

    If so – I’d qualify and would actively seek dual nationality if this was ever permitted again.

    Although I am British I am intensely proud of my Lithuanian heritage and would love to be able to promote Lithuania as a national.

  • 9. Martin Ciastko  |  September 5, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Thank you so much for your post!

    I have been waiting for this news for many years, since I missed the last window of opportunity for dual citizenship. I am a Canadian first, and will not give up the possibilities that a Canadian passport offers me, but I strongly wanted the link to my heritage that this allows me.

    It is still sad to see that it isn’t globally applied, but hopefully that will change. I am still surprised to see that I am able to claim citizenship, as I didn’t see how exactly I was exempt from the constitutional requirements (even if I didn’t agree with them).

    Good luck to all the others out there who wish to follow the path to their dual citizenship, and know that I fully support you in getting the constitution changed for you.

    After all, the people are the most important resource any country can have.

  • 10. American  |  October 16, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    I am a US citizen, with great grandparents on both sides of my family from Lithuania. But, they all left Lithuania in the late 1800’s and came to America.

    It’s interesting, because they were all Jews from different parts of the country, and didn’t know each other at the time, but they all came to the US at about the same time. I wonder what must have been going on in the late 1800’s that would have encouraged so many Lithuanian Jews to leave for America, except perhaps for a better economic life? If anyone knows what was going on then, I’d appreciate hearing about it.

    I have been to Lithuania many times, and really love the country. But, I also love being American, and would never renounce my US citizenship. I’m proud to be an American, and would never want to jeopardize my US citizenship nor my right to remain in the US.

    Besides, Lithuania’s history is a little ‘unstable’, if you know what I mean!?!? If the politicians someday decide communisim and Russia is the direction they lean, well, I wouldn’t want to have Lithuania as my only citizenship! (Which is another reason Lithuania should embrace decendents from Western countries…i.e., to increase the country’s ties with the West.)

    It is ridiculous that Lithuania would not allow for dual US and Lithuanian citizenship. The laws of the US allow for dual citizenship.

    Lithuania and its economy would be enhanced by encouraging Western emigrees. Lithuania is a NATO member, and should ‘cement’ its relations with the West. Lithuanian citizens living in the US are far more likely to be vocally supportive of the country, than are decendents of Lithuanian nationals who were refused Lithuanian citizenship!

    Someone should organize the vote to change Lithuania’s constitution.

    Or, Lithuania should announce countries with whom dual citizenship is permitted. Even its existing law allows for agreements with other counrties, although none apparently exist. For example, because the US automatically allows dual citizenship with Lithuania, then Lithuania should have ‘reciprocity’. In fact, I don’t even understand how nor why Lithuania should have an ‘agreement’ with the US for dual citizenship, when the US has a blanket acceptance from everyone for dual citizenship. Lithuania should just acknowledge the reality that the US allows dual citizenship, and accept it too.

  • 11. Ruslanas Iržikevičius  |  October 16, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    You made many interesting points. About the dual nationality, yes, it is unfair, I agree. However, in the light of the Georgian events, when the Russians went to ‘defend’ it nationals in South Osetia.


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