Seimas solemnly marked the 25th anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania
Press release, 25 October 2017
On 25 October 2017, the Seimas hosted a solemn commemoration dedicated to mark the 25th anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.
The event was opened by the Speaker of the Seimas, who conveyed the congratulatory words on behalf of Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania. “We have neither forgotten that day, nor the importance or magnitude of personal self-determination. This was a yet another consistent step taken to consolidate the 11 March Act of Independence. It sent another message to the world, confirming that Lithuania broke free from the occupation and returned to the family of nations abiding by the principles of democracy and the rule of law,” wrote the President in her letter of congratulations. The President maintained that our Constitution not only enshrined the democratic values but also stressed the permanent and continuous aspiration towards achieving them to make those values the reality of every human being.
In his speech, Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas, emphasised that the Constitution was the foundation the state was built on. It was a social contract of the political forces and the nation. “The Constitution is a viable, dynamic and time-adjustable document, thus helping the state to reach its strategic goals. It changes when the nation mobilises itself and expresses its opinion. This is witnessed by Lithuania’s success in seeking membership of Euro-Atlantic organisations. Today we are once again discussing constitutional amendments. The Seimas is entitled to make the decision on enabling citizens to appeal directly to the Constitutional Court, which would be a huge step in providing the possibility for the citizens to protect their rights. However, the issue of dual citizenship may only be resolved through a universal referendum. This was approved by 75% of the Lithuanian population 25 years ago. I believe that all the people of Lithuania have trust in today’s Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania,” the Speaker of the Seimas said.
Egidijus Jarašiūnas, Signatory to the Act of Independence, co-developer of the Constitution, former Justice of the Constitutional Court and Judge at the European Court of Justice, underlined in his speech that the Constitution was the single supreme form of law, the single contract of the nation, and the single act ensuring integration of the nation and keeping us in unity as a whole. While recalling the history of the development of the Constitution, Mr Jarašiūnas highlighted that the nation was the single genuine author of this act.
Dainius Žalimas, President of the Constitutional Court, congratulated everyone on the anniversary of the Constitution and noted that the current Constitution guaranteed the freedom to search, criticise and make mistakes while at the same time being aware of our responsibilities, for the Constitution signified not only freedom but also a moral and legal commitment not to stay indifferent in the face of gross violations of the rule of law, international law, human rights and values of democracy.
Mr Žalimas observed that the Constitutional Court cannot address political matters and make decisions requiring political will. “The issue of multiple citizenship can serve as an example in this respect. The Constitutional Court has delivered its interpretations on this matter a number of times and has repeatedly stressed that the decision to change the nearly century-long constitutional tradition on restricting multiple citizenship must be taken through a referendum. However, the issue of how exactly the question for the referendum should be formulated is a matter of responsibility for the politicians,” he explained.
When referring to the strict constitutional regulation on dual citizenship, Julius Sabatauskas, Chair of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs, suggested looking into the state’s geopolitical situation that existed at the time of drafting the Constitution. “There were still troops of the alien army in the country. Could we afford at the time to have a situation where uniformed citizens of the neighbouring country would be entitled to acquire Lithuanian citizenship? And there were several hundreds and thousands of them here. Has the situation changed? Can we now afford to set different conditions, so that citizens of Lithuania might also be the citizens of another country? Can the other country be any country in the world?” asked Mr Sabatauskas, as he encouraged everyone to join the discussion.
The event also featured speeches by Diana Naudžiūtė, winner of the Lithuanian Constitution Exam 2017 from Mykolas Antanaitis Gymnasium in Krekenava, Panevėžys District; Bronislaw Komorowski, Marshal of the Sejm of Poland in 2007–2010 and President of the Republic of Poland in 2010–2015; Tudor Panţîru, President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova; and Zbigniew Cichoń, Deputy Chairman of the Legislation Committee of the Senate of the Republic of Poland.
The current Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania was adopted by citizens of the Republic of Lithuania through a referendum on 25 October 1992. The draft Constitution was first approved by the Supreme Council (Reconstituent Seimas) of the Republic of Lithuania. This is the only Lithuanian constitution adopted by referendum. Nearly 1.5 million voters in the referendum said ‘yes’ to the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. By voting in favour of the Constitution, citizens of Lithuania symbolically became its drafters.
Rimas Rudaitis, Chief Specialist, Press Office, Information and Communication Department, tel. +370 5 239 6132, e-mail: [email protected]