Manual National Minorities and Citizenship Rights in Lithuania, 1988–93

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Table of contents
Contents:
  1. Interpreting the Term « National Minority »
  2. The decision
  3. National Minorities and Citizenship Rights in Lithuania, 1988–93

This was a period which saw the rise of nationalism, the development of nationalistic behaviour towards the national minorities. It, therefore, produces a tension between citizenship as an inclusive principle and nationalism as an exclusive one. It was only after that finally the more conciliatory policies were introduced towards national minorities. Save to Library. Opposition Movements and the Birth of the Lithuanian national movement more. The Issue of Citizenship in Lithuania: Legislation and the ways it was perceived more.

Polish Demands more. Introduction to Part II more. Russian Responses more. Jewish Answers more. Postscript more. National Minorities and Citizenship Rights in Lithuania, more. Slavic , Literary studies , and Historical Studies. Local governance and social cohesion in Ukraine more. The research has investigated the relationship between institutional reform and economic growth in the European Neighbourhood Policy ENP countries, and the extent to which formal and informal institutions have converged towards EU The research has investigated the relationship between institutional reform and economic growth in the European Neighbourhood Policy ENP countries, and the extent to which formal and informal institutions have converged towards EU norms.

The State of Lithuania came into being on the basis of the ethnical nation—Lithuanian Nation. It is reflected in the Preamble to the Constitution, wherein it is entrenched that namely the Lithuanian Nation i. The states created on the basis of ethnical nations are national states. Namely, the national state is a political form of the common life of the ethnical nation, which ensures the possibility of fostering the identity, culture, mentality, language, traditions and customs of the corresponding ethnical nation, which helps to accumulate the experience of statehood and to pass it on to the posterity as well as to gain maturity, and which guarantees the necessary historical survival.

The fully-fledged life of an ethnical nation would be particularly burdened or even impossible without a national state. The fact that the State of Lithuania came into being on the basis of the ethnical nation is reflected not only in the Preamble to the Constitution, but also in other provisions of the Constitution—Lithuanian shall be the state language Article 14 ; everyone who is Lithuanian may settle in Lithuania Paragraph 4 of Article The provision of Paragraph 4 of Article 32 of the Constitution that everyone who is Lithuanian may settle in Lithuania, means that all Lithuanians who reside abroad, wherever their permanent residence, have the right to come back to Lithuania, their ethnical homeland, at any time.

Under the Constitution, it is impossible to establish any such legal regulation, which would sever the Lithuanians living abroad from the Lithuanian Nation. The Lithuanians who reside abroad cannot be deprived of the possibility of participating in the life of the Lithuanian Nation, if they seek so. Lithuanians residing abroad are an inseparable component of the Lithuanian Nation.

It is a constitutional basis to establish by law such legal regulation that Lithuanians residing abroad would have the right to become citizens of the Republic of Lithuania under different easier conditions than other persons who seek for citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania inter alia, that Lithuanians residing abroad, who seek citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania, be not applied the usual naturalisation conditions.

This is also a constitutional basis to entrench in laws the institute of retention of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania, which should be applied to the Lithuanians residing abroad who seek for citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania, particularly if they, their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents were linked to Lithuania by citizenship relations. In this respect, as well as by the name of the state, by the recognition of the status of Lithuanian as the state language, the Lithuanian Nation corresponds to the generally recognised definition of a nominal nation.

On the other hand, also non-Lithuanians—people of other ethnical nations—have resided in the lands of Lithuania for ages. Together with the Lithuanians they created and defended the State of Lithuania, cared about its future. Thus, since ages the pattern of life of the Lithuanian Nation has been based on the peaceful concord between the Lithuanian Nation, as the nominal nation, and other national communities living in the territory of Lithuania and on the forbearance and tolerance of people of various nations in respect of each other.

Fostering national concord in the land of Lithuania is a historical tradition of the State of Lithuania. This tradition was violated only in such periods of the history of Lithuania, when the State of Lithuania itself was occupied by foreign states, when the Nation of Lithuania could not authentically create its political life by itself.

The Lithuanian Nation shall foster national concord in the land of Lithuania Preamble to the Constitution. In this context, it needs to be emphasised that, under the Constitution, the whole of the citizens of the State of Lithuania composes the civil Nation—state community. The Lithuanian Nation is the basis and the necessary precondition of the existence of the civil Nation—the state community.

It has been mentioned that citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania expresses legal membership of a person in the State of Lithuania, reflects legal belongingness of the person to the Nation as a state community. The Lithuanian civil Nation is a state community which unites the citizens of the corresponding state irrespective of their ethnical origin and the whole of citizens composes the Lithuanian civil Nation.

All citizen of the Republic of Lithuania, irrespective of their ethnical origin, under the Constitution shall be equal; they may not be discriminated or granted any privileges on the grounds of their ethnical origin and nationality. Namely the Lithuanian civil Nation, the citizens of the reborn State of Lithuania, adopted and proclaimed the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania in the referendum of 25 October It is the Lithuanian civil Nation that is the source of the Constitution.

COURT ACTS

In the course of the establishment of the grounds of the acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and the regulation of the procedure for the acquisition and loss of citizenship, the legislature enjoys discretion. However, while doing this, the legislature cannot deny the nature and meaning of the institute of citizenship, he must pay heed to the constitutional requirement that a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania may also be a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law.

It should be underlined that the provision of Article 12 of the Constitution that a person may be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and, at the same time, a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law, means that such cases established by law can be very rare individual , that cases of dual citizenship must be extraordinarily rare, exceptional, that under the Constitution it is not permitted to establish any such legal regulation under which cases of dual citizenship would be not extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon.

When regulating citizenship relations, one must also follow the principle of equal rights of persons. As the Constitutional Court has held in its acts more than once, this constitutional principle means the innate human right to be treated equally with others and it consolidates formal equality of all persons, it obliges one to legally assess the same facts in the same manner and prohibits any arbitrary assessment of the essentially the same facts in a varied manner, it does not allow discrimination of persons or granting them any privileges.

The Constitutional Court has also held that the constitutional principle of the equality of rights of persons does not deny a possibility of establishing different differentiated legal regulation in the law with respect to the categories of certain persons which are in different situations; however, this constitutional principle would be violated if certain persons, to whom corresponding legal regulation is designated, if compared with other persons to whom corresponding legal regulation is designated, were treated differently, even though there are no such differences between them so that such different treatment would be objectively justifiable.

In this context, it should be noted that it is recognised in the international law that each state establishes itself by means of legal acts as to who are its citizens, i. Citizenship is an institute of the national law of each state. Thus, in the Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws, it is entrenched that it is for each state to determine under its own law who are its nationals, that this law shall be recognised by other states in so far as it is consistent with international conventions, international custom, and the principles of law generally recognised with regard to nationality Article 1.

If necessary, the states may conclude multilateral and bilateral treaties concerning citizenship with other states. The legal regulation of citizenship established by means of laws and international treaties has to comply with, inter alia, international conventions, customary international law and the principles of law generally recognised with regard to citizenship. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, attention should be paid to the provisions of international legal acts concerning the right of person to citizenship, as well as the provisions which entrench the concept of repatriation and the provisions on dual citizenship.

It is entrenched in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations that everyone has the right to a nationality; no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality Article It is established in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the United Nations that every child has the right to acquire nationality Article International documents also entrench the undisputable principle that every state may define who are its citizens and to establish the grounds for the acquisition and loss of citizenship.

The said convention prohibits any discrimination in the sphere of nationality as well as from discrimination on the grounds of national or ethnical origin Article 5. The international legal acts also regulate certain relations related to dual citizenship. Thus, the Council of Europe Convention on the Reduction of Cases of Multiple Nationality and Military Obligations in Cases of Multiple Nationality which has not been signed by the Republic of Lithuania provides: the Member States of the Council of Europe, signatory hereto, considering that cases of multiple nationality are liable to cause difficulties and that joint action to reduce as far as possible the number of cases of multiple nationality, as between member States, corresponds to the aims of the Council of Europe Preamble ; nationals of the Contracting Parties who are of full age and who acquire of their own free will, by means of naturalisation, option or recovery, the nationality of another Party shall lose their former nationality and they shall not be authorised to retain their former nationality Article 1.

It has been held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court that the legal regulation of citizenship established by means of laws and international treaties has to comply with, inter alia, international conventions, customary international law and the principles of law generally recognised with regard to citizenship.

They must also be complied with when the state, implementing its discretion to regulate citizenship relations by legal acts, when this discretion is recognised by international law, puts limitation on the cases of dual citizenship and establishes the necessary exceptions to this limitation. Thus, in the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 12 August and Additional Protocols of thereto, it is, inter alia, prescribed: parties to the conflict are bound to send back to their own country, regardless of number or rank, seriously wounded and seriously sick prisoners of war, after having cared for them until they are fit to travel and no sick or injured prisoner of war who is eligible for repatriation under the first paragraph of this article, may be repatriated against his will during hostilities Article ; prisoners of war shall be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities Article In the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August , it is, inter alia, prescribed: the Parties to the conflict shall, moreover, endeavour during the course of hostilities, to conclude treaties for the release, the repatriation, the return to places of residence or the accommodation in a neutral country of certain classes of internees, in particular children, pregnant women and mothers with infants and young children, wounded and sick, and internees who have been detained for a long time Article ; the Contracting Parties shall endeavour, upon the close of hostilities or occupation, to ensure the return of all internees to their last place of residence, or to facilitate their repatriation Article Sixth ed.

San Paul, , p. Vocabulaire juridique. Paris: PUF, , p. Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. It should be held that citizenship of the European Union does not change the content of the national institute of citizenship of any member state, thus, it does not change the content of the institute of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania, either.

In respect to citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania, citizenship of the European Union is complementary, additional, as only a person, who holds citizenship of a member state of the European Union, in this case, the Republic of Lithuania, may be a citizen of the European Union.

The limitation on dual citizenship entrenched in the Constitution is not applicable to citizenship of the European Union, a Member State of which the Republic of Lithuania is. On the compliance of Item 1 wording of 17 September of Article 1 and Item 1 wording of 17 September of Paragraph 1 of Article 17 of the Law on Citizenship with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 12 and Article 29 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principles of justice and a state under the rule of law, on the compliance of Paragraph 2 wordings of 17 September and 6 April of Article 18 of the Law on Citizenship with Articles 12 and 29 of the Constitution, and on the compliance of Paragraph 2 wording of 17 September of Article 2 of the Law on the Implementation of the Law on Citizenship with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 12 and Article 29 of the Constitution and with the constitutional principles of justice and a state under the rule of law.

The restoration of the State of Lithuania in was based on the continuity of the state, thus, also on the continuity of Lithuanian citizenship.

Interpreting the Term « National Minority »

After the restoration of the independent State of Lithuania on 16 February , its legal bases were grounded on the provisional constitutions and laws. It did not include any explicit provisions regulating citizenship relations it did not define as to who were citizens of the State of Lithuania, it did not establish the grounds for acquisition or loss of Lithuanian citizenship, etc.

The basic laws of the Provisional Constitution of the State of Lithuania constituted the constitutional basis to regulate the Lithuanian citizenship relations by law. It should be noted that virtually analogous basis of the legal regulation of Lithuanian citizenship relations were also entrenched in the subsequently adopted provisional constitutions of the State of Lithuania—the Basic Laws of the Provisional Constitution of the State of Lithuania adopted by the State Council of Lithuania on 4 April and the Provisional Constitution of the State of Lithuania adopted by the Constituent Seimas on 10 June In the first years of the existence of the restored State of Lithuania the relations of Lithuanian citizenship were regulated by the Provisional Law on Lithuanian Citizenship and by bilateral treaties with foreign states.

Thus, under the Provisional Law on Lithuanian Citizenship, the corps of citizens was composed of the Lithuanian citizens ipso iure: permanent residents of Lithuania and their children who returned to reside in Lithuania from abroad; persons, who had resided in Lithuania for not less than ten years by and who either owned real property or had permanent jobs; as well as persons who were born with citizenship or acquired it by marriage; it was also possible to acquire Lithuanian citizenship by way of naturalisation.

The Provisional Law on Lithuanian Citizenship was amended and supplemented, however, the provisions on the composition of the corps of Lithuanian citizens were not amended in essence. From the first international treaties concluded by the independent State of Lithuania with other states, which regulated, inter alia, Lithuanian citizenship relations, those to be mentioned are the Lithuanian Peace Treaty with Russia of 12 July and the Convention between Lithuania and Latvia on the Rights of Citizens of 9 July Under these bilateral international treaties, persons had the right to choose only the citizenship of one or another state accordingly, Lithuanian or Russian, or Lithuanian or Latvian ; they could not be citizens of both states who concluded corresponding treaties at the same time.

Lithuania concluded international treaties regulating, inter alia, Lithuanian citizenship relations also with some other states. Kaunas, , p. Thus, the Constitution entrenched not only the prohibition on dual citizenship but also its exceptions. After entry into force of the Constitution, the Provisional Law on Lithuanian Citizenship with subsequent amendments and supplements continued to be in force in Lithuania.

While construing the prohibition on dual citizenship entrenched in the then legal acts regulating citizenship legal relations and exceptions thereto, it should be noted that the prohibition on dual citizenship was determined by the striving of the restored and independently developing State of Lithuania to clearly define the corps of its citizens and not to allow the occurrence of such legal situations where a Lithuanian citizen would also be bound by loyalty to another state—the state whose citizenship, along with the Lithuanian citizenship, he would hold. Meanwhile, the said exception to the prohibition on dual citizenship was determined by the striving of the State of Lithuania not to lose the link with Lithuanian citizens residing in those foreign states, where they emigrated at that time in huge numbers.

It should also be noted that part of Lithuanian citizens would depart from Lithuania temporarily and even after the acquisition of citizenship of other states, they would return to Lithuania after some time. In this context, one should mention the Treaty on Naturalisation and Military Service between the Republic of Lithuania and United States of America which was concluded on 18 October and came into force on 20 July It regulated the naturalisation and conscription relations of the persons who held dual citizenship.

Also a person, who was born in the territory of one country, and whose parents are citizens of another country, and who, under the laws of that country, holds citizenship of both countries but permanently resides in the territory of that country, is not to be forced to perform military service or any other act of faithfulness, if he temporally for not more than two years resides in the territory of the second country Article II.

On 11 February , the Seimas adopted the Lithuanian Constitution.


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It was promulgated by the President of the Republic on 12 May Moreover, it was prescribed that the conditions and procedure for the acquisition of citizenship, as well as those for acceptance as a Lithuanian citizen and deprivation and loss of citizenship shall be established by law Article It needs to be noted that the Constitution did not entrench the prohibition on dual citizenship, but the exception to such prohibition: in cases established by law, a citizen, who holds foreign citizenship, may also retain Lithuanian citizenship Paragraph 2 of Article Thus, the legislature had the duty to establish cases when a person could be a citizen not only of Lithuania, but also of another state.

Moreover, under Item 3 of Article 12 of the Constitution, a person who has merits to the State of Lithuania could be accepted as a Lithuanian citizen. This constitutional provision also implied that also such person with merits to the State of Lithuania who was a citizen of another state could be accepted as a Lithuanian citizen. Thus, the said constitutional provision implied one more exception to the prohibition on dual citizenship. The legal regulation established by it was in most aspects different from the one established in the formerly valid Provisional Law on Lithuanian Citizenship with subsequent amendments and supplements.

The Law on Lithuanian Citizenship of 8 August no longer included the provisions defining what persons are Lithuanian citizens, as the corps of citizens of the State of Lithuania had already been formed under the Provisional Law on Lithuanian Citizenship with subsequent amendments and supplements of 9 January The Law on Lithuanian Citizenship established the procedure for acquisition, deprivation, loss and retrieval of citizenship. The Law on Lithuanian Citizenship entrenched the prohibition on dual citizenship Article It also entrenched two exceptions to this prohibition: 1 it provided for a possibility of granting Lithuanian citizenship by way of exception: a person with merits to the State of Lithuania could be accepted as a Lithuanian citizen without applying the condition established in Article 10 for Lithuanians in order to acquire Lithuanian citizenship—to settle in Lithuania—and the conditions established in Article 11 for non-Lithuanians in order to acquire Lithuanian citizenship, inter alia, the condition established in Item 5 of this article also to be a citizen of the state, under whose laws a person would lose citizenship of that state after becoming a Lithuanian citizen Article 12 ; 2 it entrenched a possibility for a citizen of Lithuania, who accepted citizenship of a foreign state, to retain Lithuanian citizenship upon permission by the Minister of the Interior Article It entrenched, inter alia, the prohibition on holding citizenship of both the Republic of Lithuania and the German Reich at the same time.

One should also mention the legal regulation of citizenship relations of the residents of Vilnius and its region in the treaties with Russia and the Soviet Union which replaced Russia as well as in the Introductory Law on the Administration of Vilnius City and its Region. The Constituent Seimas ratified this treaty on 6 August and the parties exchanged the ratification letters on 14 October Under this treaty Vilnius and its region remained for Lithuania. The persons who had reached 18 years of age and who resided in the territory of Lithuania, had the right to express their will to retain opt for Russian citizenship in one year after the ratification of this treaty.

Thus, also under this treaty persons had to choose citizenship of only one state Lithuanian or Russian ; they could not be citizens of both states at the same time. Due to the existing circumstances, namely due to the fact that Vilnius and its region were annexed by Poland in —, Lithuania could not implement the sovereignty of the state in this part of its territory.

The implementation of the citizenship institute in Vilnius and its region was restricted.

The decision

After World War II had begun, the then Soviet Union occupied a part of the territory of the then Poland, including Vilnius and its region that had been annexed by it. The President of the Republic ratified this treaty on 14 October and the parties exchanged the ratification letters on 16 October It should be noted that by the said treaty not the whole territory of the Vilnius region which had to belong to the Republic of Lithuania under the Peace Treaty signed by Lithuania and Russia on 12 July was transferred to the Republic of Lithuania.

Summing up, it should be held that the corps of citizens of the restored independent State of Lithuania was formed on the basis of permanent residents of Lithuania, irrespective of their nationality. It should be emphasised that since the independent State of Lithuania was restored on 16 February till 15 June , when Lithuania lost its independence after the Soviet Union had performed its aggression towards the independent State of Lithuania, it was typical for the legal regulation of Lithuanian citizenship relations that all the time it was aimed at defining the corps of Lithuanian citizens as clearly as possible; this was done by following the principled provision that a Lithuanian citizen may not be a citizen of any other state at the same time, save separate exceptions whose regulation in the legal acts changed in the corresponding periods of time of the development of the State of Lithuania.

This principled provision of the prohibition on dual citizenship was followed both when the established corresponding legal regulation was authentic i. After the Soviet Union committed its aggression against the independent State of Lithuania on 15 June , Lithuania was occupied, later also annexed and incorporated into the Soviet Union. After the Soviet Union occupied and annexed Lithuania, the validity of the Lithuanian Constitution and other legal acts of the State of Lithuania was unlawfully terminated.

The acts of the Soviet power also denied the institute of Lithuanian citizenship—it was not possible to implement it in the occupied and annexed territory of the State of Lithuania. The Lithuanian Nation has never accepted the loss of statehood. The said act, which separated the permanent residents of Lithuania from the persons who arrived from the Soviet Union and resided in Lithuania, particularly Soviet soldiers, was aimed to define and unite the Lithuanian Nation and to create political and legal preconditions in order to express the will of the Nation in democratic elections or by referendum.

The right to citizenship of the Lithuanian SSR was retained to the persons who were deported from the territory of Lithuania or who departed from it in or about or thereafter, as well as for children and grandchildren of such persons Paragraph 1 of Article Citizenship of the Republic was recognised to other Lithuanians after they relocated to reside in Lithuania and made an oath to the Republic Paragraph 2 of Article It needs to be noted that the Law on Citizenship wording of 3 November defined the persons who were considered citizens of the Lithuanian SSR and the persons who were retained the right to citizenship of the Lithuanian SSR differently: citizens of the Lithuanian SSR were considered, inter alia, persons who were citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, children and grandchildren of such persons, as well as other persons who were permanent residents in the territory of the then Lithuanian SSR prior to 15 July , and their children and grandchildren who at that time were permanent residents in the territory of the Lithuanian SSR, while the right to Lithuanian citizenship was retained to the persons who were deported from the territory of Lithuania or departed from it in or about or thereafter thus, who did not reside in Lithuania , as well as for children and grandchildren of such persons.

It should also be mentioned that the Law on Citizenship wording of 3 November provided for the acquisition of citizenship of the Lithuanian SSR by naturalisation Item 2 of Paragraph 1 of Article 10 and Article 15 , and it prescribed that by way of exception, a person holding the citizenship of another state may be granted citizenship of the Lithuanian SSR by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR Article 7. It was held in the said ruling of the Constitutional Court that Lithuanian citizenship for them was granted under a rather simplified procedure: they were required to be permanent residents in the territory of Lithuania and had to have here a permanent job or other permanent legal source of living; they had the right within two years after the enforcement of the Law on Citizenship wording of 3 November to freely decide on citizenship, i.


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  6. Paragraph 2 of Article 35 of the Law on Citizenship wording of 3 November prescribed that during the period prior to the full restoration of the state sovereignty of Lithuania, citizens of the Lithuanian SSR shall also use passports of the USSR. The Law on Citizenship wording of 3 November also regulated other relations related to the acquisition, loss, return and retention of citizenship of the Lithuanian SSR and to decision of other citizenship issues. It should particularly be emphasised that no provision of the Law on Citizenship wording of 3 November could be construed as an obligation of a citizen of the Lithuanian SSR to any other state or citizenship established by it; it was expressis verbis entrenched in Paragraph 3 of Article 35 of this law.

    The law did not grant automatic citizenship to all permanent residents. Only to those who were citizens of Lithuania before were granted citizenship without naturalization Popovski, , p. For the Lithuanian government this meant less problems with its minorities.

    We must bear in mind that Lithuania has always been more ethnically homogeneous than the other two Baltic States. Citizenship law has changed over time According to the new wording, the number of individuals authorized to acquire Lithuanian citizenship had been increased significantly art. Before independence was lost in , and again in —, large numbers of residents emigrated from Lithuania. Enormous losses were sustained between and when , Lithuanian citizens were exiled to Siberia on social, political, or religious grounds.

    Dual citizenship was granted to these categories of persons. In this context, it is impor- tant to mention such people, because the political directives on dual citizenship aimed at solving — in addition to the desire to restore historical justice — an increasingly worrying economic and social situation for the Baltic State: the low birth rate and the negative net migration were stressing the need of importing foreign workers.

    However, it must be said that dual citizenship was granted and is still being granted at really very restrictive conditions. Since the ratification of the Convention by Lithuania, stateless persons may acquire citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania if they have been legally permanently residing in Lithuania for the last five years, rather than ten years as previously provided the law on citizenship The art. Basing on it, Lithuanian courts and the Migration Department refused to restore citizenship also to people who left Lithuania in the interwar period from to In the other two Baltic States, the situation is more complex than in Lithuania.

    Therefore, according to these Resolutions, Latvians were registered as citizens provided they or their ancestors had been Latvian citizens before Latvia lost its independence. Immediately after the adoption of this Resolution, the decree was considered null and void with regard to Republic of Latvia citizens. An important exception was ex-Soviet military and security personnel and their families stationed in the country.

    Their 16 years of residency requirement did not begin until after independence. Of those registered, 1,, were classified as Latvian citizens, while additional , persons were classified as non-citizens Payerhin, , p. The naturalization procedure in force was included in the new citizenship law adopted on July 21, primarily based on the jus sanguinis.

    National Minorities and Citizenship Rights in Lithuania, 1988–93

    The rights of Latvian non-citizens outside of Latvia are now governed strictly by treaty, according to which, non-citizens can travel visa-free in the EU under Schengen, just as Latvian citizens do, and have access to Latvian consular services abroad. They also are entitled to education, health care and social security. The protection provided to non-citizens in Latvia extends beyond that which is required by the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.

    They have rights akin to citizens e. The request for citizenship had to be presented by both parents, in case the person concerned had not reached 15 years of age; however, it could be advanced by the interested party, if aged between 15 and 18, if he had proved to live permanently in the country and to know the Latvian language. Therefore, the majority of the political elite decided speeding up naturalization by way of amendments to the citizenship law from the desire to join the EU.

    Positive effects were soon evident. Pension rights are limited, and non-citizens cannot hold certain positions in local and national government, the civil service, and other governmental entities. At last, non-citizens are exempt from military service, which was compulsory for male Latvian citizens until The naturalization process has played an important role in furthering social integration in Latvia as confirmed by the latest figures available. On May 9, the Latvian Saeima Parliament adopted changes effective since October 1, to the laws to allow dual citizenship.

    Draudze, Of course, these citizenship policies for such categories of people are not confined to CEE countries, even if they tend to be more far-reaching and more contested in CEECs than in other regions Dumbrava, , p. Estonia Also in Estonia, according to the Act of Citizenship, promulgated on February 26, and that reapplied the Citizenship Act, following here too the doctrine of legal continuity and the principle of restoration to the original condition of prior sovereignty , all individuals who had acquired citizenship before June 16, day in which the country was occupied by the Red Army to be then incorporated into the USSR were automatically considered to be Estonian citizens including their descendants.

    Thus, roughly two-thirds of the 1. European Commission, The entry of aliens26 into Estonia, their temporary stay in the country as well as their residence and employment were instead regulated by the Aliens Act of 8 July and subsequent amendments UNHCR, In conjunction with this, the law on aliens passed on July 8, which applies to both aliens and stateless persons residing in Estonia should be considered. On January 19, the Riigikogu unicameral parliament passed another Citizenship Act, which took effect on April 1, Those who had committed serious crimes or were foreign military personnel on active duty were ineligible to seek naturalization as an Estonian citizen.

    These included in addition to the disabled persons that were exempted to the language test people born in the country after the re-conquest of independence. From to July 2, , children had acquired citizenship on the basis of this amendment Press and Information Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    This seems to be the main reason why in , the number of people who acquired Estonian citizenship through naturalization was almost double that of the previous year [ 3. In more recent times, Estonian commitment to solving statelessness led to the amendment of the Citizenship Act passed on January 21, entered into force on January 1, It is also significant to note that this rule can also be applied retroactively to qualifying children who are under the age of Unlike Latvia, in Estonia native-born children of non-citizens automatically acquired citizenship without the consent of parents.

    Furthermore, according to the new amendment, the citizens older than 65 years who applied for Estonian citizenship were exempt from the written exam, and an applicant, who had passed the Estonian language test and the exam on knowledge of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia and the Citizenship Act, had his or her language training expenses reimbursed. In Estonia, dual citizenship was not and still is not being allowed.

    This causes tensions with regard to possible interference between neighboring countries and raises the risk of the interstate conflicts. The Citizenship Policies of the Baltic States Dual citizenship can be discussed with little emotion throughout Europe, but in the Baltic context it evokes great anxiety. In , persons acquired Estonian citizenship by naturalization. As of January , persons with undetermined citizenship were resident in Estonia — compared to persons in Republic of Estonia, Ministry of Interior, April As of January , persons with undetermined citizenship were resident in Estonia compared to persons in Concluding Remarks The Baltic countries are trying to find the best way to interact with their minorities.

    The young generation is better integrated with the rest of the country such as joining the mili- tary via conscription and improve its Latvian, Lithuanian or Estonian language skills. But more and more of young people are detaching themselves from the habits of their fathers. Demographics, in Latvia, Russian is the main language of In Latvia the situation has developed somewhat differently.

    The difference between the two countries does not only seem to be linked to more rigorous policies of bilingual education adopted in Latvia, but also to the relative difficulty of the Estonian language. Estonian belongs to the Uralic group of languages. In contrast, both Latvian and Russian belong to the Balto-Slavic group. Moreover, the number of minorities who said that they were proud to be citizens of Latvia tended to increase over the last years. Most respondents do not support the authorization to use Russian forces on Ukrainian territory Croft, , p. So, the EU wins its battle for the Russians in the Baltics.

    However, it is also true that if the Baltic countries have made great strides to bring closer Russians to ethnic natives in terms of recognition of civil and political rights the issue of political rights is not completely settled since long standing non-citizens, to whom full citizenship has not yet been granted, cannot vote at the local and national levels 29, so far little work has been done on the level of socioeconomic integration.

    There are signs that immigrants risk remaining on the margins amidst ongoing progress in the integration of the Estonian and Latvian societies. Of course, faced with the pressing societal issues of integration, the Baltic countries are not unique in this regard. However, this opinion is less common among respondents in Central and Eastern Europe. Howe- ver, they have not the right to run for public office.

    In the case of Latvia, an important step toward bringing non-citizens more into the fold of society and encouraging their participation would be to extend to them rights to vote in local elections. Europeans think it is particularly important that immigrants are able to speak the language of the country they have immigrated to.


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    Nine in ten respondents hold this view. Unemployment and poverty in particular affect today Russian minorities who also suffer from the lack of investments and infrastructures in the areas where they live. Low living standards characterize these minorities, who live in degraded neighborhoods located in the suburbs of urban centers.

    It must be said that the matter is on the agenda. Of course, the integration is an ongoing process requiring constant active policies and often demanding robust resources as well as brave political leadership. References Ader, L.