Granting dual Lithuanian citizenship to a broader circle of individual sis only possible after changing the Constitution by way of a referendum, the Constitutional Court ruled on Friday.
Dainius Žalimas
© DELFI / Domantas Pipas

"Under the Lithuanian Constitution, the Seimas cannot establish in law that the citizens of Lithuania who left the country after the restoration of independence could be citizens of Lithuania and another country without changing the Constitution," the court's president Dainius Žalimas said.

The parliament had asked the court to establish whether dual citizenship should be allowed for citizens who left Lithuania for EU and NATO countries after the country regained independence in 1990.

According to the Organic Law, nobody can be a citizen of Lithuania and another country at the same time, except for individual cases stipulated by law.

The Constitutional Court ruled back in 2013 that the provision meant dual citizenship could not be a common phenomenon, therefore, a law on dual citizenship for people who emigrated during the post-independence years would run counter to the Constitution.

"The limitation in the field of multiple citizenship can only be discarded by changing the provision contained in Article 12 of the Constitution," Žalimas told a news conference.

"I believe it did not surprise anyone, everyone indeed knew the answer before that the provision asked by the claimant (Seimas) can only be stipulated by changing the Constitution by way of referendum," said the president of the Constitutional Court.

"The Constitutional Court said back in 2013 that a general permit cannot be stipulated to be a citizen of any country and Lithuania, as this would lead to a frequent phenomenon (of dual citizenship), and it has been stated repeatedly that the regulation cannot allow multiple citizenship as a common phenomenon," said Žalimas.

The court's ruling also suggests that should the parliament decide to change the country's Organic Law and expand the institute of dual citizenship, this can be done in the direction of Euro-Atlantic integration, i.e., allowing dual citizenship to the Lithuanians who have emigrated to countries of the European Union and NATO.

At the same time, Žalimas noted that the Constitutional Court did not consider the parliament's argumentation, such as increased emigration after Lithuania's EU entry in 2004 and higher numbers of mixed marriages, as the court only analyzes the compliance of laws to the Constitution, not "changing social, economic and demographic conditions."

"This is the responsibility of politicians to take decisions in light of social and demographic changes. A court is a judicial, not a political institution, it looked at the legal arguments," said Žalimas.

In comment of the situation of about 25,000 Lithuanian citizens also holding passports of other countries, the Constitutional Court president said: "25,000 make under one percent, i.e., 0.74 percent of all citizens of Lithuania."

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said politicians would have to hold a referendum on Constitutional amendments, if the court does not pave way for dual citizenship .

The parliament had asked the court to establish whether dual citizenship should be allowed for citizens who left Lithuania for EU and NATO countries after the country regained independence in 1990.

According to the Organic Law, nobody can be a citizen of Lithuania and another country at the same time, except for individual cases stipulated by law.

The Constitutional Court ruled back in 2013 that the provision meant dual citizenship could not be a common phenomenon, therefore, a law on dual citizenship for people who emigrated during the post-independence years would run counter to the Constitution. According to the ruling, expanding the boundaries of dual citizenship is only possible by changing of the Constitution by referendum.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said politicians would have to hold a referendum on Constitutional amendments, if the court does not pave way for dual citizenship.

BNS
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