2019.12.23 10:11

Brussels urges Lithuania to solve name-spelling issue

Vaidotas Beniušis, BNS 2019.12.23 10:11

The European Commission has asked Lithuanian institutions to explain what measures they plan to take regarding the original spelling of EU citizens' names.

Brussels officials say EU citizens are facing obstacles in Lithuania to have their names spelled originally in their passports and ID cards if they contain Latin-based characters that are not in the Lithuanian alphabet: q, x or w.

“We would be grateful if Lithuanian institutions could explain what structural measures they have taken to ensure that Lithuanian government institutions immediately recognize the names of mobile EU citizens,” Tiina Astola, the European Commission's director-general for justice and consumers, has stated in a letter to the Lithuanian ambassador.

Lithuanian courts have on numerous times ordered institutions to issue documents with non-Lithuanian characters.

But the European Commission representative said that Lithuanian government institutions were not consistent in their practices. She also pointed out that a bill on non-Lithuanian names was pushed back to the parliament's spring session in 2020.

Citizens should be able to make use of their rights without turning to courts, Astola stated.

“The Commission would like to underline that EU citizens should have a possibility to use their rights under EU law without the need to, first, turn to national courts,” Astola wrote in the letter.

Lithuanian Justice Minister Elvinas Jankevičius has voiced plans to turn to the Constitutional Court for a clarification on the use of non-Lithuanian names in documents and is also considering amending related legislation.

Discussions on the original spelling of names in Lithuania have been taking place for decades now, particularly in relation to the country's Polish-speaking community. They complain that they are forced to transcribe their names in Lithuanian characters.

Some politicians suggest that names in Latin-based original spelling should be written on the passport's main page, as this would ensure a person's right to their name. Others say it would undermine the status of Lithuanian as the state language and propose putting originally-spelled names on the document's second page.