Speaker of the Seimas: ways will be sought to retain the Lithuanian citizenship
Press release, 23 January 2017
At the meeting with the leadership of the Lithuanian World Community, Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas, stated that the ways to retain the Lithuanian citizenship of Lithuanians residing abroad would be searched for.
“The key goal is that Lithuanians hold and retain the Lithuanian citizenship. We will start talking about it with experts in the near future,” said the Speaker of the Seimas.
He also said that all interested bodies and the general public would be consulted for the future decisions to reflect not only the moral wish of the people, who decided to leave Lithuania, to retain citizenship, but also their duties to Lithuania.
“It is of key importance that those who have left retain an uninterrupted link with Lithuania,” underlined Mr Pranckietis.
Dalia Henke, President of the Lithuanian World Community, stated that the issue of retaining the Lithuanian citizenship was raised because the new Seimas and the new Government, which started their work, had highlighted the significance of return of Lithuanians to their homeland.
“Ways are sought for Lithuanians living around the world to retain the Lithuanian citizenship. The law already provides for 11 exemptions. We must simply look for other solutions because the new Seimas, the new Government and new experts may well find them,” said Ms Henke.
The Lithuanian Constitution provides that with the exception of individual cases provided for by law, no one may be a citizen of both Lithuania and another state at the same time. The Constitutional Court established that these individual cases should be very rare and exceptional. Some time ago, the Constitutional Court also stated that legalisation of dual citizenship necessitated amending the Constitution, which was only possible through a referendum.
Members of the Lithuanian World Community hope that lawyers are able to find a rational solution that meets the needs of today.
Currently, the right to dual citizenship is granted only to the citizens who left Lithuania before the restoration of its independence and their descendants, excluding those who emigrated during the independence period. By way of exemption, dual citizenship may also be retained by children born abroad when they acquire citizenship of another state at birth and by those who acquire citizenship of another state automatically through marriage to a foreign citizen.
The Speaker of the Seimas met with Dalia Henke, President of the Lithuanian World Community, Laurynas Gerikas, Head of the Public Relations Commission at the Lithuanian World Community, and Vida Bandis, representative of the Lithuanian World Community in Lithuania. They also discussed the possibility of voting via the internet. The members of the Lithuanian World Community said that internet voting had the potential for significantly facilitating the participation of Lithuanians living abroad in elections and referendums held in Lithuania. They noted that the right to equal suffrage, enshrined in Articles 55, 78 and 119 of the Constitution, had not been properly implemented as yet, since neither Lithuanians living abroad, nor Lithuanian citizens living in Lithuania had had equal conditions for participating in Lithuanian elections.
The discussion also covered the dissemination of Lithuanian culture and education abroad and the events of world Lithuanians in Lithuania and foreign states.
Dalia Vencevičienė, Senior Adviser to the Speaker of the Seimas, tel. +370 5 239 6016, mob. +370 698 42 071, e-mail: [email protected]