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If Constitutional Court doesn't allow dual citizenship, Lithuania'll need referendum

VILNIUS – If the Constitutional Court does not pave way for dual citizenship for Lithuanians who have left for other countries of the European Union (EU) and NATO, politicians will have the duty of holding a referendum on amendments to the country's main law, says Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis.

"The ruling by the Constitutional Court will possibly give more clarity to the politicians on what they should do next," Skvernelis in an interview to the national radio LRT on Tuesday morning, a few hours before the opening of the court's hearing.

"After the final verdict and explanation by the Constitutional Court that (amending the Constitution is) the only way, the main task for all politicians in support of the idea of dual citizenship will be to hold a referendum and to persuade the nation to participate and make the decision," said the prime minister.

After an address by more than 100 parliamentarians, the Constitutional Court is on Tuesday morning starting hearing a case to establish whether dual citizenship is possible by law for Lithuanian citizens who left the country after the 1990 declaration of independence to EU and NATO countries.

According to the Organic Law, nobody can be a citizen of Lithuania and another country at the same time, except for individual cases stipulated by law.

The Constitutional Court has said that the provision meant dual citizenship could not be a common phenomenon, therefore, a law dual citizenship for people who emigrated during the post-independence years would run counter to the Constitution.

Nevertheless, the MPs think that the growing emigration numbers and increasingly frequent mixed marriages after Lithuania's EU entry set a premise for revision of the Constitutional doctrine.

The MPs behind the amendment suggest drawing a group of list of countries worldwide, so that Lithuanian citizens who left to the countries would be allowed to hold two passports in a practice that would be treated as an exception allowed by the Constitutional Court. They note that dual citizenship is already allowed for over 20,000 persons.

The address to the court came amid concerns that the Lithuanians living in the United Kingdom would choose British passports after Brexit, thus giving up their Lithuanian citizenship.

A poll conducted by RAIT pollster for BNS in April suggests that 60 percent of the population agree to dual citizenship for the new generation of emigrants.

Some politicians and exiles fear that the referendum may lack votes for amending the Constitution, thus destroying the dual citizenship initiative once and for all. According to the law, the dual citizenship provision can only be changed by way of referendum, with support of at least half of eligible voters, a requirement applying to the first chapter of the Constitution.

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