A proposal to once again allow World War II exiles and their descendants to become dual citizens of Latvia and of their host country is under consideration by the Latvian government, while a left-leaning political party is urging a wider reform of the country’s citizenship law.
The proposed legislation, which eventually would have to be approved by the Saeima, was put forward a month ago by a work group led by the Secretariat of the Special Assignments Minister for Social Integration Affairs. The legislation seeks amendments to Latvia’s citizenship law that also would make it easier for many children to become citizens.
The proposal had its first hearing March 6 during a meeting of the state secretaries. Legal acts proposed by government ministries typically begin the legislative process in these meetings. If approved by the state secretaries, proposed legislation next goes to consideration by the Cabinet of Ministers and, from there, to the parliament.
The integration secretariat must now consult with a number of ministries over the proposed legislation before bringing it back to the Cabinet of Ministers.
The left-leaning Harmony Centre (Saskaņas centrs) says it supports the proposed amendments, but in an April 9 press release argued that reform should not stop with minimal changes. The party said the citizenship law should eliminate discrimination against Russian-speaking youth and make it easier for older persons to become citizens.
Under the integration secretariat’s proposal, the citizenship law would be amended to:
- Define as citizens persons who had Latvian citizenship on June 17, 1940, as well as their descendants. Under the current law, persons who after May 4, 1990, became citizens of another country cannot also be Latvian citizens, unless they become dual citizens by July 1, 1995. More than 30,000 Latvian exiles and their descendants worldwide took advantage of the opportunity to become dual citizens, but the integration secretariat says many also missed or were not aware of the 1995 deadline.
- Include among citizens orphans and children without parental care who are not citizens of another country.
- Include among citizens children who at birth or at the time of adoption have at least one birth or adoptive parent who is a Latvian citizen.
- Bar from dual citizenship those persons who have become Latvian citizens by naturalization.
The integration secretariat began working on the proposal last year, forming a work group to discuss how the citizenship law could be changed to encourage recent emigrants to return to Latvia. Originally the work group was to focus just on the question of whether children of Latvian citizens abroad should be granted dual citizenship. The work group’s charge was expanded after the World Federation of Free Latvians (Pasaules brīvo latviešu apvienība) urged that it also re-open the question of dual citizenship for World War II-era political refugees and deportees, as well as their descendants.
© 1995-2023 Latvians Online
Please contact us for editorial queries, or for permission to republish material. Disclaimer: The content of Web sites to which Latvians Online provides links does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Latvians Online, its staff or its sponsors.