Nationalists in Saeima propose amendments to allow dual citizenship

Descendants of World War II refugees from Latvia could become dual citizens of their ancestral homeland under amendments proposed Jan. 24 by five members of the nationalist bloc in the Saeima.

This is the second attempt in the past several months to alter Latvia’s citizenship law, and apparently gets the jump on a plan by the government to propose its own amendments.

The amendments, proposed by MPs from the National Association (Nacionālā apvienība “Visu Latvijai!” – “Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK”), also would allow dual citizenship for citizens of European Union countries, Switzerland, Australia and Brazil, as well as of NATO defense alliance members, which would include Canada and the United States.

The amendments to Latvia’s citizenship law were introduced by Einārs Cilinskis, Imants Parādnieks, Dzintars Rasnačs, Visvaldis Lācis and Inese—all members of the National Association (Nacionālā apvienība “Visu Latvijai!” – “Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK”).

The amendments also would allow dual citizenship for children of whom at least one natural or adoptive parent is a Latvian citizen.

Allowing dual citizenship would foster people’s connection to their homeland, according to an explanatory note submitted with the proposed amendments. Few European countries, the note continues, today do not allow dual citizenship.

In October during the closing weeks of the 9th Saeima, members of the Unity (Vienotība) bloc also proposed a bill that would have allowed dual citizenship. That legislation, however, failed to get a hearing.

For exile organizations such as the World Federation of Free Latvians (Pasaules brīvo latviešu apvienība) changing the law to allow dual citizenship has become a key issue. Until July 1995, exiles and their descendants were able to register as Latvian citizens without having to give up the citizenship of their adopted country. However, since July 1995 dual citizenship has not been allowed.

The new coalition government led by Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis included in its declaration a promise to change the citizenship law to allow dual citizenship.

Foreign Minster Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, during a Jan. 6 press conference in Rīga, said the government has been working on legislation that would soon be submitted to the Saeima.

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

16 thoughts on “Nationalists in Saeima propose amendments to allow dual citizenship

  1. I hope Saeima will adopt this law to allow dual citizenship. I was born as a Displaced Person in Germany of Latvian parents. I have since become a citizen of my adopted country though my mother when she married my stepfather. My natural father passed away as a Latvian citizen. This would indeed foster my connection with my homeland.

  2. I hope that any ethnic Latvian will have the right to dual citizenship. I am Latvian that was born in Russia. “Nacionala apvieniba” nedrikst rikoties pret tautieshiem arzemes!!!

  3. There seems to be a groundswell of support for the idea of dual citizenship, as was the situation before 1995. However, it has not happened. Where is the opposition comming from?

  4. I was born in Riga 1937 but became a refugee late 1944. I missed the date of 1995 and have been waiting all these years to regain my Latvian citizenship. My father died before Latvia became free again, but mother saw it and then passed away. I pray this time this comes true of me obtaining dual citizenship.

  5. Es piedavaju atlaut dubultpilsonibas iespeju personam, kuras bija Latvijas pilsoņi 1940.gada 17.jūnijā, kā arī šo personu pēcnācējiem. Es piedavaju liegt dubultpilsonibas iespeju citiem Latvijas pilsoniem (kas ieguva pilsonibu naturalizacijas kartiba). Visi Latvieshi (pirmskara Latvijas Republikas pilsonu pecnaceji) vares registreties par Latvijas pilsoniem, bet nelojalie Krievi kas aizbrauca uz Angliju zaudes Latvijas pilsonibu (pec naturalizacijas ka UK pilsonis).

  6. About time – the sooner the better. It should be for all who feel a connection to the homeland of their parents and grandparents and to those who request it, not to individuals as in articles on citizenship in Oct. 2010 on this site!!!

  7. To Egits Linga: I too have two sisters who were born in Germany a Latvian refugee camp amd wish to become dual citizens. Surely hope it comes to pass.

  8. I certainly agree with all the others who are supporting the issue of allowing dual citizenship. Both of my parents were Latvian citizens, who fled from Latvia during World War II, and I was born in a refugee camp in Germany. While my brother, who was born in the United States, received Latvian citizenship before the deadline for dual citizenship in 1995, I was unable to do so at that time inasmuch as I was then working for the FBI, and I did not want to put my career in jeopardy. Now, however, I am retired and would like to become a Latvian citizen. Yet, I do not wish to renounce my United States citizenship.

  9. I am fortunate that I got my Latvian citizenship back in 1993 and have dual citizenship (USA). It is time to give opportunity to those who were not able to apply for the Latvian citizenship by the deadline in the 1990’s.

  10. To Juris Bergs: I too was in law enforcement in 1995 and had the same concerns. I’m retired now and also wish dual citizenship. I was a Latvian citizen up until age 17. I became a US Citizen through my mother. Our family lived at the Hanau DP camp until 1951. Seems like there are so many stories like ours, lets hope dual citizenship becomes a reality.

  11. It’s good for exiles to have the chance to restore their Latvian citizenship and good for their offspring, too. But why do they need to keep their foreign citizenship as well? I think that people should decide what country they belong to and be citizens of that country alone. Citizenship can lose its meaning and become mere sentimentality if it’s allowed to be so vague.

  12. I was born in Latvia in 1938. My wife was born in Lithuania in 1937. We are both naturalised Australian citizens. Our two children are Australian by birth. If my son were to marry a German girl and my daughter, say a Bulgarian, we could have a United Nations around the dinner table. How many citizenship multiple choices would their descendants need? I made my choice at age 16.I chose to honour the country which gave me shelter and became Australian. I can take pride in my Latvian heritage without undue sentimentality or trying to facilitate European travels by having dual citizenship. In my view, Latvian citizenship should be the exclusive right of people who choose to live and work in Latvia, pay taxes and help build the nation.

  13. My Mother was Latvian and I speak fairly good Latvian though I was born in Australia. I have been to visit Latvia 4 times and felt a real attraction to this country, as if a missing piece of the jigsaw was put in place. I hope that dual citizenship will be allowed so that this part of my heritage and that of so many others can be validated.

  14. I was born in Laramie, Wyoming the son of Latvian DP immigrants. I would happily apply for citizenship of Latvia but, I will never surrender my USA citizenship. This action by the Latvian parliament could help in a small way to alleviate Latvia’s most dire threat which is not assimiliation into the Russian Federation but sheer extinction due to a shrinking Latvian ethnic population in the republic.

  15. If a citizen of the EU then it is of no great concern if one does not take i.e. Irish citizenship? One’s Latvian passport should suffice throughout the EU, though it is a necessary item if located in Latvia. Am I correct?

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