Moacir P. de Sá Pereira on December 4th, 2009

eu_imgOther than the Lithuanian President’s decision last month not to grant citizenship to ice dancer Katherine Copely, things have been rather quiet on the citizenship front. However, this week, there is some news.

The current citizenship law in Lithuania adopted in mid-2008, which has been the basis of my popular “Guide to a Passport” series, was set to expire on the first day of 2010. On Tuesday, however, the Seimas voted to extend the deadline to 1 July, 2010. The reason given is that not enough time has elapsed since the results of the president’s council on citizenship were submitted in late October.

Incorporating appeals to the Constitutional Court (Konstitucinis Teismas), the new project would try to develop a plan regarding dual citizenship that avoids a legal limbo while waiting for it to be declared unconstitutional. The main hangup of the current project is in part 7.5 of the proposed law on citizenship, which declares that a Lithuanian citizen can maintain her citizenship if she

yra lietuvių kilmės asmuo, išvykęs iš Lietuvos po 1990 m. kovo 11 d. ir įgijęs Europos Sąjungos ar Šiaurės Atlanto Sutarties Organizacijos valstybės narės pilietybę.

is a person of Lithuanian descent who left Lithuania after 11 March 1990 and acquired citizenship of a nation that is a member either of the European Union or NATO.

This clause, in my opinion, is in violation of the 29th clause of the Lithuanian Constitution, that is, their version of the ERA:

Žmogaus teisių negalima varžyti ir teikti jam privilegijų dėl jo lyties, rasės, tautybės, kalbos, kilmės, socialinės padėties, tikėjimo, įsitikinimų ar pažiūrų pagrindu.

A person’s rights cannot be infringed upon, nor can a person be granted privileges based on his or her sex, race, ethnicity, language, descent, social standing, religion, creed, or beliefs.

Considering that the Court already struck down similar language when dual citizenship became an issue in the first place, I’m not sure why they would change their minds this time. At that time, they decided that the “tauta” to whom belongs the “suvernitetas,” as prescribed in the opening articles of the Lithuanian Constitution, is backformed from the population of citizens, making a tautology between citizenship and “tautybė.” It seems to me that following this logic, the article in the proposed law above could be kept, but it would mean “a Lithuanian citizen who left Lithuania…” In that case, it fails the rareness test for dual citizenship as prescribed in the Constitution. Getting rid of it, however, would also erase the crypto-racist effect that diaspora communities are seeking: dual citizenship only for ethnic Lithuanians, not for Russians, Jews, Poles, etc.

Furthermore, the proposed law could go against the Treaty of Lisbon, which is now three days into being in effect. The Treaty incorporates the text of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which includes, in Article 21:

1. Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.

Of course, Lithuania’s already flaunting non-compliance with this article in their legalizing discrimination against homosexuals.

But we’ll see what happens.

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12 Responses to “Current Lithuanian citizenship law deadline extended”

  1. Thanks for the informations!

  2. That is fantastic news! I just found out the same thing today from my Embassy in Ottawa so I came here to see if you had further information :) Thanks for posting this.

    Takes a lot of pressure off as I’m still trying to pull together quite a few documents.

  3. Does this still mean that a request for dual citizenship (valid under the current law) received before July 1 could be pronounced invalid after this date has passed?

  4. I’m really happy to find this site as a support for this process!!

    I currently fit into the category where I would have to renounce my South African citizenship to get the Lithuanian one.

    It seems to make sense to wait until the changes are announced in July 2010. Am I right in understanding that the trend seems to be towards extending dual citizenship in the case of those who left before 1940 as well? Or am I misunderstanding this?

    My one fear is that if I wait till July 2010, the rights to ancestral citizenship would be taken away completely. Any chance of this in your opinion? That would mean getting applications in pronto…but then have to give up S.A passport, which is undesirable.

    Thanks!

  5. Bronwyn,

    I honestly don’t have any sort of insider information, nor do I particularly feel like I can gauge trends. I do feel, however, that the Lithuanian government is trying to figure out how to make dual citizenship available to more, rather than to fewer, people. They are under tremendous pressure from Lithuanians living abroad–this has turned PLB almost into a single-issue organization!

    But while that may sound like good news, what is keeping the pressure from throwing the doors of dual citizenship wide open is precisely the business I called “crypto-racist” above. I do believe that the same sources of pressure to open dual citizenship to people who have acquired citizenship in a NATO nation are also sources that are disinclined to advocate for the rights of descendents of citizens who left before 1940–that is to say, they might not advocate for, as an example, the descendents of Jewish citizens who fled the increasingly toxic atmosphere in late Smetona-era Lithuania.

    In other words, because the current efforts to widen dual citizenship are done in an effort to maintain the ethnic Lithuanian hegemony over the state, means of widening the citizenship to increase the likelihood of non-ethnic Lithuanians’ gaining dual citizenship seem to find less favor in the halls of power.

    So whether your specific family is ethnically Lithuanian or not, because pulling the clock back to 1918 would dilute the concentration of ethnic Lithuanians in the pool of eligible dual citizens, your chances seem slim for the forseeable future.

    That’s how I read the pressure for changing the dual citizenship law when I try to read between the lines.

  6. Thanks a lot, I appreciate the detailed reply.

    My family I suppose, fits into the crypto-racist category you speak of.

    Something is not so clear to me though: I thought from the articles I have read that the extension of dual citizenship that is in debate, surrounds the topic of pulling the clock back to include pre-1940 immigrants.

    Is this not the actual issue in question?

    Hope this is not one of those frustrating questions already answered somewhere…

    Thanks
    Bronwyn

  7. Hmmmmm, just to clarify my previous entry, …It was on another site , linked through from this site that I got the impression pre-1940 immigrants are being considered for inclusion re: dual citizenship.

    Have you caught wind that this possibility is under consideration at all?

    Or is it actually the post 1990 immigrants that are mainly being considered for inclusion at this point in the political debate?

    Thanks again
    Bronwyn

  8. OK, I think this is confusion I’ve started. *I* *personally* *wish* that the clock would be pulled back, but, from what I can recall, I’ve not read anything suggesting that, at least for dual citizenship. Of course, as you know, the clock has already been pulled back for single citizenship.

    The bulk of the pressure now is to allow people who left *since* 1990 to keep their Lithuanian citizenship. That’s why requirements like “NATO nation” and “EU nation” keep coming up, as they are both sets of states that Lithuanians have been emigrating to since 1990.

    Given that the current law considers as citizens everyone who is a descendant of a citizen of the first republic, it would follow that that should make up the pool of potential candidates for dual citizenship, even though that would go against the “rare” requirement in the constitution (as would, I would argue, expanding it in the other direction). So while it would make sense, and while it would be what I want, I’ve not actually, from what little I’ve read, seen anything suggesting that it will.

  9. Thanks for that! appreciated

  10. Edward Krisiunas
    May 17th, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Glad to have found this site. Both parents born in Lithuania (father – 1914,near Panevezys, and mother, 1926, near Vilkaviskis. Both left in 1944 as the Russians were coming through..land taken, uncle deported to Kariganda, Kazakhstan..Met in England and married..brother born in Germany…Then siste and I born in Canada. All became US citizens years ago. Brother now lives in Vilnius and obtained dual citizenship in the mid-late ’90s..been there 15+ years. I have been back several times for conferences..I am now 50 and really would like to have my Lithuanian and US citizenship..

    Keep me posted as I have all my dad’s documents ready!!

    Sveks!

    Edvardas Petras Krisiunas

  11. Danielius Raimondas Aleliunas
    June 9th, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    My father was born in Lietuva in Panevezys along with my paternal grandparents. What right or possibilites do I have under Lithuanian citizenship laws to obtain dual citizenship . I was born in Cikagoje,Illinois.JAV. 1961. My birth certificate states my fathers place of birth /origin as Panevezys ,Lietuva. Any informtation would quite helpful
    Labai Aciu Draugai
    Su pagarba
    Danielius

  12. Can anybody tell me the lates news