February 27, 2012
A conference about citizenship—part of the Saeima’s ongoing discussion about changes to the Citizenship Law—is scheduled March 2 at the University of Latvia in Rīga.
The title of the conference is “Latvijas pilsonība 21.gadsimtā” (Latvian Citizenship in the 21st Century). A number of experts are expected to participate, including members of the Latvian parliament, legal scholars from the University of Latvia, and representatives of various diaspora organizations, including the World Federation of Free Latvians (Pasaules brīvo latviešu apvienība).
“The Citizenship Law was passed in 1994 and saw its last changes in 1998,” Ingmārs Čaklais, chair of the parliamentary subcommittee charged with reviewing proposed amendments to the law, said in a Saeima press release. “During this time Latvia and the world have changed, and the law no longer mirrors what is happening in society and its values, ignoring changes brought about by joining the European Union and the processes of migration.”
The subcommittee headed by Čaklais is reviewing a bill that would amend the citizenship law. Among changes proposed in the bill are once again giving World War II-era exiles and their descendants the right to become dual citizens of Latvia and their home country. Under current law, Latvia does not allow dual citizenship.
The bill, No. 52/Lp11, is the same as legislation proposed during the 10th Saeima. It was reintroduced by the Legal Affairs Committee on Nov. 3 and passed its first reading on Nov. 10.
Among issues lawmakers have to contend with is whether the amendments should also allow children born of non-citizens of Latvia to automatically become citizens. Under current law, non-citizen parents have to apply for citizenship for their children.
The conference was originally scheduled for January, then moved to Feb. 24, but rescheduled again to March 2.
Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000-2012 he was editor of the website.