Dual citizenship remains core issue for Lithuania’s émigré community
As the BNS writes the Lithuanians living abroad are content with neither the Citizenship Law currently in force, nor the one under consideration in the Seimas.
This issue on 8 July will be addressed in the 13th Seimas session of the World Lithuanian Community (WLC).
“Citizenship is at the core of our community. Citizenship acts as our most meaningful tie with our homeland. And this issue is yet to be fixed in Lithuania. The law currently in force will no longer be valid at the end of the year. There will be no law on this at all. How can a nation exist without a Citizenship Law?” Chairwoman of the WLC Regina Narusiene rhetorically asked in the session.
The law currently being mulled in the Seimas is no good, said she. “It’s no good for either the welfare of the Lithuanian state nor, with regards to the émigré community, the nation,” Narusiene stressed.
Both of the bills on citizenship speak not of granting citizenship but of revoking it, said the WLC chair.
“The possibility of having our citizenship revoked, especially for those of us with a birthright – Lithuanians by origin – is outright offensive. We are not traitors – while we may be physically distant, our hearts, our actions extend to Lithuania,” said she to BNS.
Narusiene noted that the WLC Seimas is certain to pass a resolution on this issue.
Under a draft piece of legislation landed for consideration in the Seimas, dual citizenship can be extended to persons who left Lithuania before the independence period and their descendants, while persons who emigrated after 1990 will not be eligible for dual citizenship, which would only be granted to their children born abroad, as is the procedure at this time.
Under article 12.2 of the Constitution, no one can hold the citizenship of Lithuania and another country at the same time, save for a few exceptions. The constitutional provision can only be revised via a referendum.
According to the draft bill, Lithuanians who emigrated after the reestablishment of independence will be granted dual citizenship only by way of exception, for example by marrying a foreign citizen whose country has legitimized dual citizenship and thus acquiring it. On the other hand, their children, born abroad, will be eligible for dual citizenship as is currently stipulated in the country’s legislation.
Discussions on dual citizenship roused after the Constitutional Court in the fall of 2006 found that the country’s main law provides for dual citizenship as rare exceptions, declaring laws allowing dual citizenship as running counter the Constitution.
The WLC Seimas will be in session in Vilnius until 10 July. The session will also work to operationalize the concept of a Lithuanian living abroad, discuss what kind of support is needed from Lithuania to retain nationhood abroad, also issues concerning Lithuanian language education, Lithuanian community archives, etc.