“Many current emigrants from Lithuania renounce their motherland immediately and lose their national identity,” regretted Danguolė Navickienė, chairwoman of the World Lithuanian Community (LWC), while visiting the DELFI
conference on Monday. According to her, without foreign Lithuanians, our country would be seriously endangered as a nation.
However, according to Navickienė, there are those who protect the Lithuanian identity despite a large number of current emigrants who lost it. “Those who keep their national identity and those who remained Lithuanians since the first wave of emigration, and some people from the current wave of emigration – still feel respect, love, and duty to their homeland,” she said.
In her view, Lithuania needs every person. “We Lithuanians living abroad are engaged in lobbying for the sake of Lithuania; we send a lot of charity, raise children to be Lithuanians –we are trying that these children will not be just tourists in their homeland. For example, my son and stepdaughter came to Lithuania in 1993 before all the emigration waves started, created families, and are now productive citizens of Lithuania. Such people are especially needed in Lithuania,” – Navickienė said.
Navickienė noted that since the Second World War, Lithuania has lost people because of mass deportations, killings, and fleeing from the country. Now, the country loses citizens because of the emigration. “One can say that without foreign Lithuanians our country would be seriously endangered as a nation,” Navickienė added.
According to Navickienė, emigrants often dream of their homeland and wish to return easily, settle in, and join society. However, emigrants who have stayed in foreign countries for a long time – and have already raised children there – are deeply rooted and coming back is not an easy process.
When, after the war, the fate of Lithuania was uncertain, emigrated Lithuanians founded Lithuanian schools and decided to create Lithuanian families – their goal was children with a Lithuanian identity, Navickienė said. Now, the most important objectives of the LWC are Lithuanian education, legalization of dual citizenship, preservation of Lithuanianism, and relations with the homeland.
They want to enjoy the full rights as Lithuanians
The LWC chairwoman received questions about dual citizenship. “We do not demand anything. We ask the Lithuanian government to grant us the same rights as native Lithuanians, no matter where we live. This is a very important and sensitive issue,” Navickienė said.
According to her, having dual nationality for many Lithuanians living abroad could be useful for Lithuanians to take part in the affairs of their country, whereas the governments of other countries would have different attitudes towards them. Also, with Lithuanian citizenship, immigrants would have the right to vote.
Navickienė explained why Lithuanians abroad oppose a referendum on dual citizenship. “We oppose the referendum for fear of the risk, because the requirements are very strict. A large percentage of people must vote for it and support it. We are afraid of the risk because if we lost, we would not be able to apply for a long period of time,” she said. Navickienė said that the PLB is looking for opportunities to change the procedure of holding referendums.
Navickienė is the chairwoman of charitable fund “Lithuanian Children’s Hope” and received questions about the fund’s activities as well. During the 22 years of its existence, the Fund has helped cure about 100 children who had no hope of recovery in Lithuania. The fund, functioning in Los Angeles and Chicago, financed the repair of the sections of Vilnius University Children’s Hospital, bought modern equipment, and the doctors had access to training in the best clinics of the world. According to Navickienė, in its years of independence, Lithuanian medics asked the assistance of Lithuanians living in the United States. They wished to help those who had no chance of recovery in Lithuania.
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