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Lithuanian Prime Minister backs dual citizenship referendum proposal

April 23, 2015

Today it was announced that Lithuanian Prime Minister backs dual citizenship referendum proposal. This question has been discussed for more than a decade now, since hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians emigrated and thousands lost their Lithuanian citizenship after accepting a citizenship of another country. Solution to this problem is long overdue. We salute Lithuanian parliament that they found political will to tackle this problem and people of Lithuanian heritage that feel Lithuanian might be able to reclaim the citizenship of their ancestors. However, at the moment constitutional amendment is not yet formulated, furthermore we do not know whether the referendum will succeed.

Based on the previous discussions in Lithuanian parliament we can assume that new constitutional amendment would allow dual Lithuanian citizenship for those that are not eligible for it now: Lithuanians that emigrated after 1991 and, possibly, Lithuanians that emigrated before 1940. Descendants (up to third generation) of Lithuanians that were forced to flee Lithuania during WW2 can obtain dual Lithuanian citizenship at the moment and we do not expect it to change. However, particular application rules might get stricter as we observe a general trend that requirements for dual citizenship are gradually becoming more stringent. If you are eligible for Lithuanian citizenship and were thinking of restoring it for yourself or your children, we encourage you to do so now, before rules are reviewed again and possibly become stricter.

For geopolitical reasons dual citizenship can be tied to the fact whether applicant’s country is a member of NATO or EU. We can only guess whether it actually becomes a fact and in what form, but this topic comes up constantly during public discussions on dual citizenship in Lithuania. If introduced, this safeguard would obviously be targeted to limit applications from some neighboring countries in the East. It is expected that if law is not strict enough some applicants might apply for Lithuanian citizenship for economic reasons and some of them may be actually hostile to Lithuanian statehood per se. We hope that formulation of the law will be well thought off and will not have any unintended consequences. But good intentions sometimes have unintended consequences. If dual citizenship is tied to NATO/EU, it is hard to predict how it might affect candidates from non-allied countries like Australia, New Zealand and Brasil.

Let’s hope for the best, but it is wise to know and plan for all possible scenarios.

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