Moacir P. de Sá Pereira on June 18th, 2008

ImageThe beforementioned response from PLB to the question of citizenship remains a complete mystery to me. I eagerly want to play a game of “find the subtext” in pulling apart the various moves in Narušienė’s statement, but the subtext that emerges is so grotesque and offensive, that I do it only hoping, sincerely, that I am missing something.

Before addressing her statement, I reread the LRKT decision regarding the unconstitutionality of the law on citizenship. It is a brilliant document with an approach to the constitutional term “tauta” that is, well, devastating to the racist rhetoric mobilized by the ardent nationalist diaspora community. There exists also an oddly framed English translation of the decision, but in some places it is absolutely wrong (“nepertraukiamas” does not mean “discontinued”; it sort of means the opposite), and it often feels like weird English. Nevertheless, language knowledge is no excuse to avoid reading the decision.

In any case, Narušienė’s statement ends with five bullet points, which I will take up below.

  • Netiesa, kad išspręsti pilietybės išsaugojimo klausimą neišvengiamai reikia pakeisti Konstituciją. Rimti teisininkai, su kuriais PLB konsultuojasi, aiškina, kad tokie tvirtinimai tėra šio reikalo uždelsimas. Užtikrinti pilietybės išsaugojimą galima, ir kuo skubiausiai būtina, įstatymo būdu.

This point is true to a degree, but the truth is of dubious value. Earlier in the document Narušienė explains that no law is unconstitutional until the LRKT deems it so. Hence, PLB and the Seimas can not be considered to be passing laws that are “unconstitutional.” Well, so what? Does that mean that it makes sense to pass laws without any regard to their potential constitutionality? The LRKT very clearly explains that they understand “Išskyrus įstatymo numatytus atskirus atvejus, niekas negali būti kartu Lietuvos Respublikos ir kitos valstybės pilietis” to mean that dual citizenship is granted in only extremely rare and exceptional circumstances; that it is not to become a “widespread phenomenon” (to use their English). They write:

68.1.1. Toks teisinis reguliavimas, kai iš asmens, norinčio susigrąžinti Lietuvos Respublikos pilietybę, nereikalaujama inter alia atsisakyti turimos kitos valstybės pilietybės, sudaromos prielaidos dvigubai  pilietybei būti ne ypač reta išimtimi, o paplitusiu reiškiniu ir yra nesuderinamas su Konstitucijos 12 straipsnio 2 dalies nuostata, kad, išskyrus įstatymo numatytus atskirus atvejus, niekas negali būti kartu Lietuvos Respublikos ir kitos valstybės pilietis.

I cannot see in this paragraph somewhere that says that a new law that still makes dual citizenship widely available fits the test for rare and exceptional, yet that is what PLB and their confederates in the Seimas intend on doing. Why risk another defeat in the LRKT, putting precedent even more against you (widespread dual citizenship has absolutely no legal precedent in Lithuania)? Why not move to make everything as clear and transparent as possible?

Furthermore, note that here Narušienė (or the mythic “PLB” which is the one that “teigia” by an uncertain albeit most likely antidemocratic authority) nowhere mentions dual citizenship, yet that is the focus of the decision made by the LRKT. (Well, that and repatriation, which is not essential here.)

The LRKT demands that wording about denouncing previous citizenship must be added to the citizenship laws when a person petitions to exercise his or her right to Lithuanian citizenship. In this paragraph, Narušienė is talking about the preservation of citizenship writ large. Yet the LRKT affirmed the right of descendants of citizens of the interwar Republic to be citizens of the LR. How on earth does “preservation” or “maintaining” (how I understand “išsaugojimas”) relate to having to denounce US citizenship if I decide to exercise my right to Lithuanian citizenship?

Is the concern here, then, something different? That the LRKT may, actually, strike down the rights of people like me to citizenship in the future? If that is the case, then why, elsewhere in the document, does Narušienė criticize the Socialliberalai for wanting to change the constitution to allow open dual citizenship?

Which fight are you fighting, Narušienė? The illusory one in which someone somewhere is possibly threatening in the future my right to Lithuanian citizenship—a fight with no current belligerents, stakes, or battles? Or the fight where the LRKT has found widespread dual citizenship to be unconstitutional?

If it is the latter, then why are you pretending it is the former? If it is the former, why are you criticizing the Socialliberalai for fighting the latter?

  • Tekstas Konstitucijos pakeitimui nėra išdėstytas Naujosios sąjungos peticijoje. Tai yra žmonių klaidinimas. Ar tai blogas ar geras pakeitimas priklauso nuo teksto. Neaišku ar tas pakeitimas apsaugo visų Lietuvos žmonių pilietybę, Lietuvos valstybingumą. Naujosios sąjungos anksčiau išplatintas tekstas yra nepriimtinas.

This point about obscurity is decently made, but immaterial, because now “PLB” is getting picky about the fact that the Socialliberalai have understood that dual citizenship can only be granted via amendment. So now it is the local tactics that are critiqued instead of the motivations or general battle plan. Yet then more red herrings arise: whence arrives the concern, again, about the preservation of citizenship? The NS simply wants to change the constitution to permit dual citizenship. How does that threaten Lithuanian statehood? The UK and US are doing quite well with wide open dual citizenship, as is Brazil (which I learned from the comment 145 to the article about me in lrytas.lt).

Again, which fight is PLB fighting here?

  • Negalima pritarti referendumo ruošimui ir todėl, kad referendumas pasmerktas žlugti, atsižvelgus į referendumo įstatymo reikalavimus – daugiau negu pusė Lietuvos piliečių (ne tik atėjusių balsuoti, o VISŲ Lietuvos piliečių, balsavimo metu ir esančių ir nesančių Lietuvoje) turi balsuoti už siūlomą pakeitimą. Niekados tiek žmonių neateina balsuoti.

Aha… So now constitutional amendment is a useless tactic because it is impossible for an amendment to succeed. I obviously am no expert on the local political situation in Lithuania, but it strikes me that if, honestly, the Lithuanian government can’t get their shit together to be able to decide if a vote for a constitutional amendment is valid, then there are far, far more important problems facing the young Republic than an argument about dual citizenship.

Yet Narušienė’s logic here bewilders me still: for her, there is no point in going the route of a referendum since it will never work. Instead, the Seimas should try to pass a law that is almost certain to be struck down by the LRKT and will therefore harm future efforts to effect the changes we want. If both are prima facie losing propositions, why choose the one that will hurt you more?

  • Socialliberalai rinkdami parašus referendumui nepasitarnauja siekiui išsaugoti integralią tautą ir kiekvieno lietuvio norui išlikti Lietuvos dalimi.

And here arrives the word “tauta,” the magic bullet. I have read and reread this bullet point several times, and I am still uncertain as to what it means, though I grant that it may be since I do not really look into the local political movements of the Socialliberalai in their petition building.

But, seriously, what does this mean? The Socialliberalai are not attuned enough to the desire of maintaining an integral (unified, persistent) tauta in their collection of signatures? For a petition that says that the constitution should be changed to allow dual citizenship?

How is permitting dual citizenship a threat to the “integral tauta”? (Yes, I’m asking this question in mock-naïveté, since the answer is almost too frightening to consider…)

  • PLB neramu, kad referendumas toliau skaldytų tautą ir Lietuvoje ir išeivijoje. Nederėtų platinti šios peticijos ir šio projekto.

Now things get even more confusing. The people in Lithuania are actively trying to change their constitution so that their brothers and sisters outside Lithuania could join them in being citizens of Lithuania (without forfeiting their other citizenships, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will exercise their rights to Lithuanian citizenship), and PLB sees this gesture as a wedge that will split the people in Lithuania from the people outside Lithuania? How does this work? How is trying to permit dual citizenship a gesture of anything but unification? Of opening doors? Of bringing people together?

What is being unspoken here that makes PLB’s response so damned illogical? What is PLB afraid of?

The answer?

Taip būtų sukurta visiškai neribota dvigubos pilietybės institucija, kuri nesiremia nei lietuvių tauta, nei laisvos Lietuvos piliečiais.

So PLB is afraid that the precedents established in 1918, in which citizenship was granted based on residency or employment within the Republic of Lithuania might threaten the racist fantasy of an ethnically homogenous contemporary Republic of Lithuania. Is that really what we want PLB to be saying, putatively in our names? That they are worried that open dual citizenship will somehow thin out the blood of pure Lithuanians? That is how I read the concern here…

Does this mean, then, that, in the words of Narušienė, PLB wants dual citizenship only for ethnic Lithuanians, not for the descendants of citizens of the interwar Republic (who were, of course, multiethnic and damned proud of it)? Seriously? It’s 2008, and we’re openly suggesting that a republic, which in the 29th article of its constitution clearly says that all are equal under the law regardless of ethnic background, should now discriminate based on ethnic background? And this is somehow more tolerable behavior (and better tactics) than trying to amend the constitution?

I just do not get it, because the only way PLB’s position here makes sense to me now is if I assume ahead of time that PLB is an organization devoted to ethnic purity. And I spit on that with every last drop of spit I can find in my body.

PLB does not want a constitutional amendment, since any effort to grant dual citizenship constitutionally means that those damned Jews, Russians, Poles, Belarusians, and others (and their offspring), who were full citizens of the interwar Republic, enjoying and participating in the political life of the tiny nation, will be able to reassert their role in a democratic, egalitarian, multiethnic republic at odds with the offensive technologies of racial purity. That, it seems, is what PLB is afraid of.

Not that I imagine that PLB will respond to this post, but it would certainly be useful if they managed, for once, to put together a press release that didn’t seem to be missing a giant iron eagle on the masthead.

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