Lithua­nian seimas turns to Con­sti­tu­tional Court over dual cit­i­zen­ship

The Baltic Times - - BALTICS NEWS - BNS/TBT Staff

The Lithua­nian Par­lia­ment on Tues­day, June 27, asked the Con­sti­tu­tional Court to look at whether peo­ple, who left for EU or NATO Mem­ber States af­ter Lithua­nia re­gained in­de­pen­dence in 1990, could be granted the right to dual cit­i­zen­ship by a law passed by the Seimas.

In its pe­ti­tion to the Con­sti­tu­tional Court, which was sup­ported by 100 mem­bers of the Seimas, the Par­lia­ment says that Lithua­nia should con­sider re­vis­ing its very strict con­sti­tu­tional doc­trine in light of an in­crease in em­i­gra­tion and in the num­ber of mixed mar­riages fol­low­ing the coun­try's ad­mis­sion to the EU.

The Con­sti­tu­tional Court will likely give its opin­ion on the mat­ter in Septem­ber, Dainius Zal­i­mas, the court's pres­i­dent, told BNS on Tues­day.

The Con­sti­tu­tional Court has ruled on more than one oc­ca­sion in the past that broad­en­ing dual cit­i­zen­ship re­quires amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion through a ref­er­en­dum. Sup­port­ers of dual cit­i­zen­ship fear that turnout would be too low for such a ref­er­en­dum to be de­clared valid.

"I do hope that it will be the Seimas that will adopt the de­ci­sion to amend the Law on Cit­i­zen­ship, be­cause if it does not, there will be a ref­er­en­dum and we will have to as­sume full re­spon­si­bil­ity for a po­ten­tially failed ref­er­en­dum and the con­se­quences, which may lead to 800,000 cit­i­zens be­ing de­prived of their right," MP Zy­gi­man­tas Pav­il­io­nis of the op­po­si­tion Home­land Union–lithua­nian Chris­tian Democrats said on Tues­day.

"That would be too many for the na­tion and I do hope that the Seimas will stick to its po­lit­i­cal opin­ion and we will meet as early as Septem­ber to vote on amend­ing the Law on Cit­i­zen­ship and will adopt that de­ci­sion here, rather than in the streets or vil­lages of Lithua­nia," he said.

The Par­lia­ment draws the Con­sti­tu­tional Court's at­ten­tion to the fact that over 22,000 peo­ple hold dual cit­i­zen­ship un­der the cur­rent reg­u­la­tion, which in the law­mak­ers' opin­ion, runs counter to the of­fi­cial doc­trine that de­fines dual cit­i­zen­ship as a very rare ex­cep­tion.

So­cial Demo­cratic MP Julius Sa­batauskas, who heads the Par­lia­ment's Com­mit­tee on Le­gal Af­fairs, noted that the Seimas pe­ti­tion might ad­versely af­fect ex­ist­ing hold­ers of dual cit­i­zen­ship.

"(We are) ask­ing the Con­sti­tu­tional Court to say if it does not ob­ject to 22,913 peo­ple hold­ing the cit­i­zen­ship of both Lithua­nia and a for­eign state. We are pro­vok­ing, in a dan­ger­ous, very dan­ger­ous way, the Con­sti­tu­tional Court to say if these cit­i­zens le­git­i­mately hold dual cit­i­zen­ship," he said.

Lib­eral MP Kes­tutis Glaveckas said that a ref­er­en­dum on dual cit­i­zen­ship was in­evitable and that called on the Par­lia­ment to lower the turnout thresh­old for such a ref­er­en­dum to suc­ceed.

The lat­est ini­tia­tive comes amid wor­ries that many Lithua­ni­ans liv­ing in the United King­dom will opt for Bri­tish pass­ports af­ter the coun­try leaves the Euro­pean Union. Around 200,000 Lithua­ni­ans cur­rently live in Bri­tain.

An opin­ion poll con­ducted by RAIT last April showed that 60 per cent of the Lithua­nian pop­u­la­tion was in fa­vor of al­low­ing dual cit­i­zen­ship to new-gen­er­a­tion em­i­grants.

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