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2019.12.23 17:31

No progress on name-spelling issue in this parliament, Lithuanian MP says

Ignas Jačauskas, BNS2019.12.23 17:31

The current parliament is too divided to make any headway in setting new rules for spelling non-Lithuanian names in passports, says the chair of the Legal Affairs Committee.

According to Agne Širinskienė, the issue is politically sensitive and the Seimas is unlikely to achieve consensus before the end of its term.

Lithuania's existing legislation does not allow using characters not in the Lithuanian alphabet in identification documents of Lithuanian citizens. This rule has incensed people who are forced to transcribe their names without w, q and x.

“The reality is that there is no consensus [...]. I can hardly imagine this happening, given the fragmentation and diversity of opinions,” Širinskienė commented to BNS about whether the current Seimas could solve the name-spelling issue.

“It looks unlikely to me that any decisions (on the matter) could be made,” she added.

Brussels' has called on Lithuania to explain what measures it plans to take to allow EU nationals to have their names in documents in the original spelling.

According to Širinskienė, who represents the ruling Farmers and Greens Union, some MPs suggest allowing the original spelling of names on the second page of the passport, while others wouldn't mind including x, w and q. Opponents say, however, that this would still violate the rights of EU citizens who have other characters in their names.

Širinskienė said that “gaps” in the legislation leave room for courts to shape case law upholding people's right to have their names spelled in the original form.

Tiina Astola, the Director-General for Justice and Consumers at the European Commission, has asked Lithuania explain what measures have been taken “to ensure that Lithuanian government institutions immediately recognize the names of mobile EU citizens”.

Lithuanian authorities' policy on the issue has been inconsistent, she said, and EU citizens “should have a possibility to use their rights under EU law without the need to, first, turn to national courts”.

The Lithuanian Justice Ministry has said it plans to ask the Constitutional Court for its opinion.