News2019.12.06 09:24

Lithuanian president revives dual citizenship question

Vaidotas Beniušis 2019.12.06 09:24

During his meeting with Lithuanian expatriates in the United Kingdom, President Gitanas Nausėda has promised that the government will get back to the matter of dual citizenship.

Under the current laws, Lithuanian nationals who become naturalized citizens in another country have to forgo their Lithuanian passport. While many criticise the rule as too restrictive, the Constitutional Court has ruled that it can only be changed through a referendum.

Read more: Constitutional court should change position on dual citizenship, expat Lithuanian leader says

Although a dual citizenship referendum, held earlier this year, failed due to low turnout, it showed that Lithuanian citizens are becoming more favourable towards dual citizenship, the president said.

“Life doesn’t end with this, [...] one way or another we will get back to this issue,” Nausėda told representatives of the Lithuanian community at the embassy in London earlier this week.

Almost 74 percent, or 956,500, of the people who voted in the May referendum in Lithuania, were in favour of expanding dual citizenship. However, amending the constitution requires the support of at least half of all eligible voters (about 1.24 million).

The president says securing a successful result would have amounted to “almost a miracle” due to the existing strict citizenship law.

“It's not the fault of those who voted that our referendum law is the way it is. It might have been possible to secure a positive result with such a law, but that would have amounted to almost a miracle,” the president said.

“I see a lot of positivity in that result in the sense that some five or six years ago the result would have definitely been different, and that change in the public mood, its attitude towards preserving citizenship has changed before my eyes, and during my visits to different regions and meetings with voters, I saw how people were changing,” Nausėda said.

The Constitutional Court has ruled that allowing dual citizenship as a matter of course would run counter to the Constitution. At the moment, it is available only to Lithuanians who left the country before 1990 and children of mixed families.

During the dual citizenship referendum, voters were asked to vote on whether or not to amend Article 12 of the Constitution to allow Lithuanian citizens by birth to keep their Lithuanian citizenship when they acquire the citizenship of another country that meets the “European and transatlantic integration criteria”. The latter condition would rule out dual citizenship for nationals of countries like Russia.

Read more: After failed referendum, calls for further efforts on dual citizenship

Lithuania's citizenship referendum: necessary but rushed vote

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