Latvian president tells parliament: Allow dual citizenship

Latvian president Valdis Zatlers has written a letter to the speaker of parliament in which he calls for changes to the Latvian citizenship law. First and foremost, he demanded to amend the current legislation in order to allow dual citizenship.

In his letter, president Zatlers declared that the changes brought upon Latvia’s international position after having joined NATO and EU as an independent state must be reflected in the legislation on citizenship. His primary concern are Latvian exiles (i.e. those who left Latvia between June 17, 1940 – the beginning of the Soviet occupation – and May 4, 1990, when Latvia declared its indipendence) and their descendants. These could only register as Latvian citizens without having to renounce their citizenship of another country until July 1995. After this deadline, exiles and their descendants – as well as anybody else who wished to take up Latvian citizenship – had to renounce other citizenships. Zatlers called the current regulations unfair and also proposed that Latvians should be free to take up the citizenship of countries with which Latvia is allied through NATO, EU and EFTA without loosing their Latvian citizenship.

The president also supported changes for the benefit of stateless persons and foreigners living in Latvia. According to the president’s proposals, children born to this group would automatically become Latvian citizens (instead of their parents having to apply for it) – with the possibility of renouncing the Latvian citizenship once children have reached the age of 15. The latter propositions would largely the Russian minority in Latvia.

Already on January 24, 2011, the right-wing party “National Association of “All for Latvia!” – “For Fatherland and Freedom / LNNK” presented its propositions to the change Latvia’s citizenship laws which are rather similar to those outlined in the presidential letter to parliament. Furthermore, prime minister Valdis Dombrovskis has also promised changes to the citizenship laws.

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