The parliament accepts presidential veto on citizenship issue

  • 2010-12-08
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

VILNIUS - On Dec. 2, despite protests of some MPs from the ruling center-right Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats and their Liberal allies, the parliament accepted the presidential veto on its adopted law’s paragraphs regarding granting the right of double citizenship to Lithuanian emigrants who left Lithuania after it proclaimed re-establishment of its independence on March 11, 1990. Earlier this year, the parliament adopted the law on citizenship, which granted such a right for those who moved in the last 20 years to other EU and NATO countries, arguing that Lithuania has special relations with EU and NATO countries.

Kestutis Dauksys, opposition Labor MP, supported the veto. “Citizenship should be like a fatherland or a mother. You cannot have five or six fatherlands,” he said, pathetically, during the discussions in the parliament.
“There is a right to double citizenship in many European countries. The first emigration wave from Lithuania was caused by the Soviet occupation. The second wave is also caused by that occupation because we were left behind other countries in economic terms due to that occupation,” said Paulius Saudargas, MP of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, urging rejection of the presidential veto. However, his calls impressed fewer than 71 MPs (in the 141-seat parliament), the number required for rejection of the presidential veto.

On Nov. 17, President Dalia Grybauskaite met with experts of constitutional law who convinced her to veto the parliament’s granting of the right to double citizenship to post-1990 Lithuanian emigrants in other EU and NATO countries. The Lithuanian constitution allows dual citizenship only in exceptional cases and, therefore, those paragraphs of the newly adopted law, which grant the right for double citizenship to a big number of people, should be vetoed, constitutional law experts told Grybauskaite.

The capitulation of the parliament to the president’s office on the double citizenship issue means that, according to the new law, only those Lithuanians who left Lithuania before March 11, 1990, as well as those who got another citizenship through marriage or by birth, fit into the dual citizenship criteria, according to the new law. The clause regarding those who got citizenship by birth is a rather important one. There were situations, as it is in the case of Canada, when a child, who was born into a Lithuanian family, could have no chance in applying for Lithuanian citizenship because the Canadian citizenship was given automatically and the Canadian citizenship excluded the Lithuanian citizenship due to strict Lithuanian rules regarding dual citizenship. A similar story with Lithuanian children was in Ireland, one of the most popular destinations for Lithuanian emigres in the last two decades. The Irish institutions do not issue the Lithuania-required statement that an Ireland-born child did not receive Irish citizenship: it means that those children, before the new Lithuanian law on citizenship went into effect, could get either Irish citizenship, or no citizenship at all.

There are at least some 300,000 Lithuanians who moved to other EU and NATO countries after 1990, although nobody can tell the exact figure. The absolute majority of them kept their Lithuanian citizenship.