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Lithuania's Social Democratic Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius has backed the idea of holding a referendum on dual citizenship alongside general elections in 2016.
Algirdas Butkevičius
Algirdas Butkevičius
© DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

The prime minister told journalists that he was personally in favour of allowing dual citizenship in more cases, without naming specific groups of people. The amendment should be proposed by legal experts, however, he noted.

"We need a preparation period to avoid making mistakes in a hurry. We need to do explanatory work for the public to be fully informed on why the referendum is being organized. We could do this by the next Seimas elections," Butkevičius said.

The current legislation in Lithuania allows dual citizenship only for people who left the country during the Soviet occupation as well as their descendants. But it's not allowed for people who left after Lithuania restored independence in 1990.

Butkevičius did not comment as yet on which groups of people would be allowed to remain citizens of Lithuania and a foreign country at the same time.

"Legal experts should explain it and suggest what amendments should be adopted and what rights it would give to those people who could have a second citizenship," the prime minister said.

The Constitutional Court of Lithuania has clarified that the liberalization of dual citizenship is not possible without amending the Constitution, which requires a referendum. Under Lithuanian law, such amendments could be adopted if more than half of all voters backed them.

The Speaker of the Seimas and leader of the Labour Party, Loreta Graužinienė, has also expressed support for the idea of holding a referendum on dual citizenship alongside general elections.

Liberalization supporters say the legalization of dual citizenship is needed to help expatriates to preserve ties with Lithuania.

Meanwhile critics say citizens should pledge loyalty to only one state. They also fear that representatives of ethnic minorities in Lithuania might seek foreign citizenship and Russia can take advantage of that.

BNS
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