TB/LNNK opposes changes to citizenship law

A proposed amendment that would expand dual citizenship in Latvia is being opposed by For Fatherland and Freedom (Tēvzemei un brīvībai, or TB/LNNK), one of the ruling coalition’s five parties.

However, TB/LNNK supports another amendment that would again allow exile Latvians and their descendants to apply for dual citizenship.

Both amendments are part of a legislative package proposed by the Cabinet of Ministers. The TB/LNNK board decided Aug. 17 that it will oppose the proposal, which is due to be reviewed by coalition parties on Aug. 24, a party spokesman said in a press release.

The amendment TB/LNNK does not like would automatically grant Latvian citizenship to newborn children even in cases where one of the parents is not a Latvian citizen.

“The TB/LNNK board believes that this expansion of dual citizenship policy should be allowed only in relation to those children who are born in marriages between a Latvian citizen and citizens of other European Union or NATO states,” according to the press release.

Under the current citizenship law, newborns are considered Latvian citizens irregardless of where they are born as long as both parents are also Latvian citizens. If just one parent is a Latvian citizen, then the parents decide which citizenship the child will have. Dual citizenship is not allowed.

For exile Latvians and their descendants, the Cabinet of Ministers proposal offers hope that dual citizenship could again be offered. An amendment would lift the restriction that exiled citizens and their descendants could register as Latvian citizens only until July 1995. That amendment, according to the TB/LNNK press release, has the party’s support.

Under the current citizenship law, Latvian citizens who between June 17, 1940, and May 4, 1990, had gone into exile to escape the Soviet and Nazi occupations of the country, and who in the meantime had become naturalized citizens of another country, could also register as Latvian citizens. The rule also applied to descendants of the exiles. However, the opportunity to become a dual citizen expired in July 1995.

This is not the first time changes to the citizenship law have been proposed by the government, nor the first time TB/LNNK has opposed them. Changes proposed last year by the now-defunct Secretariat of the Special Assignments Minister for Social Integration Affairs ran into roadblocks.

A total of 30,793 persons registered for dual citizenship by July 1995, according to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs. The greatest number, 12,473, were from the United States, followed by Australia (4,283) and Canada (3,788).

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

4 thoughts on “TB/LNNK opposes changes to citizenship law

  1. I am all for the dual citizenship changes. We have the ridiculous situation that because I was not a registered dual citizen when she was born and bureaucratic stuff ups my first born is unable to have dual citizenship but my second does. How ridiculous and no amount of correspondence to the government about the absurdity of this has been able to change their minds. I hope some common sense prevails!!!!

  2. See “Latvieši, kas savā zemē netiek atzīti par pilsoņiem” (http://bit.ly/trqqt). The ruling of the Supreme Court will be delivered on August 28th, 2009. 5 years spent with 3 different instance courts. I do not believe that the ruling will be favorable either for us, or for the 500.000 citizens of Latvia living abroad, nor for the historical and political facts of continuity of the state of Latvia. 20 years after Latvian state is reborn, there is a lack of democracy and a gap in acting in a democratic way.

  3. Crossing my fingers and holding my thumbs… It’s good to hear, though, that there is some amount of positive feedback from the government now.

  4. For those of us who missed out on the 1995 deadline, it will be sensational. I just hope that if it does happen, it is not made too difficult for those eligible, and does not discriminate.

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