Amendments to citizenship law not likely to be approved before Jan. 1

Despite earlier expectations that revisions to Latvia’s Citizenship Law would be approved and take effect by Jan. 1, it appears almost certain that work on the legislation—which includes allowing dual citizenship—will continue into the new year, according to a member of parliament.

MP Inese Lībiņa-Egnere, a member of the Reform Party (Reforma partija) and secretary of the subcommittee reviewing the proposed amendments, told Latvians Online in an email that she does not see how it will be possible for the work to be concluded by the end of the Saeima’s autumn session.

The autumn session wraps up on Dec. 27 and the winter session is scheduled to open Jan. 8.

The Citizenship Law Amendments Subcommittee of the Legal Affairs Committee has been meeting regularly since the amendments passed their second reading in the Saeima on Sept. 6. Among the amendments is language that would allow dual citizenship for a broad range of individuals, including recent emigrants to many European countries as well as World War II-era exiles and their descendants.

As of the second reading, the amendments also state that the changes would take effect Jan. 1.

However, the legislative process calls for the full Legal Affairs Committee to approve the amendments before they are sent on to the parliament, Lībiņa-Egnere wrote.

“Given that debate about the bill at present is still taking place at the subcommittee level,” Lībiņa-Egnere wrote, “I have to admit that I do not see how, by the end of the Saeima’s autumn session, it can be reviewed by the responsible committee before the third reading nor passed by the Saeima on the third and final reading.”

The Citizenship Law Amendments Subcommittee is scheduled to meet twice more this year, on Dec. 18 and 19.

In a Nov. 25 interview on the Latvian Radio show “21.gadsimta latvietis,” subcommittee Chairman Ilmārs Čaklais of the Unity party (Vienotība) said he understands the impatience with which many Latvians are awaiting approval of the amendments.

“Our goal is to approve a quality document,” Čaklais said, adding that he expects passage early in the new year.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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