President revisits dual citizenship vote

  • 2009-02-18
  • By TBT staff and wire reports
VILNIUS - President Valdas Adamkus has reiterated his support for a referendum on dual citizenship and will authorize the Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) to review a new edition of the Citizenship Law drafted by his appointed task force, the president's spokesperson said.
"The president requested the Seimas Board mull the new draft Citizenship Law so as to vouchsafe a more clear and consistent legal regulation of citizenship, expand and better define cases when a Lithuanian citizen can simultaneously become that of another state," said Rita Grumadaite, press spokesperson for the President.

"The president would back the Seimas should it decide to hold a referendum and change Article 12 of the Constitution, thus legitimizing dual citizenship for all applicants," she said.
Legal experts last week presented the president with a draft version of the law drawn up by his appointed task force. The bill outlines a move to introduce and regulate a Lithuanian Charter document by Sept. 30 and draft respective acts of law.

"The new draft bill provisions that all Lithuanian citizens who were exiled from Lithuania or left the country on their own will from 1919 to March 11, 1990, as well as a few generations of their progeny, will get to retain Lithuanian citizenship. Persons, who for various reasons left Lithuania after March 11, 1990 and chose to become citizens of another state, automatically lose their Lithuanian citizenship. However, their children, born abroad, retain the right to dual citizenship, i.e. that of Lithuania and another country," she said.
Not all members of the Seimas agreed on the matter.

"There is a joint Seimas commission with the American Lithuanian Community, and, naturally, it is necessary to first sit down with representatives of the emigrant community in order to reach a legal discourse," Deputy Parliamentary Speaker and Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrat Party member Irena Degutiene said.

Degutiene said reactions to the bill from the emigrant community are grounded on emotions and interpretations because they are yet to see any documents.
"We will see whether the emigrant community, all of it, finds in favor of the new edition, or, in case something is askew, we can amend it. Should we fail to reach such an agreement, then, of course, we will have to go about it by holding a referendum. This would be the alternative route," she said.
Degutiene also voiced concerns over the planned referendum on the issue that will coincide with the presidential elections this year, saying Lithuanian emigres might not want it.

However, in the event that Lithuanians living abroad fail to reach an agreement on the proposed draft piece of legislation, a referendum would be inevitable, the deputy Seimas Speaker Virginija Baltraitiene said.
Discussions on dual citizenship came to the forefront after the Constitutional Court in autumn 2006 found that the country's constitution sees dual citizenship as a rare exception.

A change to the constitution can only be made via referendum.