Dual citizenship could be coming

  • 2007-07-26
  • By TBT staff and wire reports

ONE AT A TIME: At present, children with one Latvian parent cannot hold dual citizenship (Photo courtesy OCMA)

RIGA - The door seems to be opening on something that would make many Latvians' lives easier - dual citizenship.

Currently, holders of Latvian passports cannot hold a passport of any other state simultaneously, even if they are married to a foreign national or were born in another country. As a result, many ethnically Latvian people are forced to choose between citizenship of their place of residence and their spiritual homeland.

Minister for Children and Family Affairs, Ainars Bastiks, has now proposed that dual citizenship could be a possibility. He won swift backing from Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks, who said he is confident that the idea has gained the support of several political parties.

"In a state such as, for instance, Ireland, which is presently the country of residence of many Latvian citizens, a child is automatically granted citizenship according to its place of birth. As Latvian legislation does not permit double citizenship, a child's parents are often forced to renounce Latvian citizenship, and our country finds it difficult later to defend the interests of these children," said Pabriks.

In a press statement, Pabriks confirms that consideration should be given to granting double citizenship for children, one of whose parents is a Latvian citizen. The caveat is that the other parent must also be an EU citizen, which could rule out thousands of potential applicants from the U.S., Australia, Russia and elsewhere.

Citing the high mobility of EU citizens, the minister said Latvia should make its citizenship laws more liberal regarding the children of Latvian citizens.

Latvian People's Party/Latvia's Way spokesman Edgars Vaikulis told BNS that the Children and Family Affairs Ministry together with the secretariat of the special assignments minister for society integration have already worked out the necessary draft amendments.

Vaikulis said lawmakers could be called for an extraordinary sitting soon to consider the proposals. Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis, however, is reported to have said that although the issue should be debated it is not urgent enough to call an extraordinary parliamentary sitting.