EU – Baltic States, Latvia, Legislation

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Wednesday, 23.05.2018, 02:25

OSCE to Latvia: Citizenship Law amendments should be altered

Alla Petrova, BC, Riga, 11.09.2012.Print version
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has sent a letter to Saeima Chairwoman Solvita Aboltina (Unity) and Saeima Legal Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ilma Cepane (Unity), criticizing the parliament's amendments to the Citizenship Law passed last Thursday, and urging Saeima to lift any restrictions on citizenship for children born in non-citizens' families in Latvia after August 21, 1991, the newspaper Neatkariga reports today.

In the letter, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Knut Vollebaek states that he strongly opposes the new rules that set a number of additional conditions so non-citizens' children could receive Latvian citizenship, for instance, that non-citizens' children and their parents must be permanent residents of Latvia, or the requirement that non-citizens must see to that their children learn Latvian or be loyal to the State of Latvia, writes LETA.


Vollebaek emphasizes that all children born in Latvia after August 21, 1991 should be automatically granted Latvian citizenship, and asks that MPs take his reasoning into consideration during further debate on the matter.


Neatkariga notes that the letter is seen as OSCE pressuring Latvia, trying to make the country ease requirements on non-citizens and naturalization. This is the first time Vollebaek writes to the Saeima speaker, which suggests escalation of OSCE involvement in the issue.


Cepane said, although she had not yet seen the letter, that there was no reason to worry as Vollebaek's recommendations were not binding.


"These recommendations are not binding for us. We act as an independent European Union member state. We have explained our position to the organization, and we agreed that human rights were observed in Latvia. Citizenship issues are not linked to human rights. It is up to a given independent country how to tackle its citizenship matters," said Cepane.


Whereas All For Latvia!-For Fatherland And Freedom/LNNK believes that some of the provisions in the amendments to the Citizenship Law are too lenient, and should be removed from the bill before it is reviewed by the parliament in the third reading.


As reported, on September 6 Saeima endorsed amendments to the Citizenship Law in the second reading. According to the amendments, Latvian citizenship will be granted to newborns, regardless of where they are born, if one of their parents is a citizen of Latvia. Non-citizens' children born in Latvia after August 21, 1991 will also be granted Latvian citizenship if they are permanent residents of Latvia and currently have the status of a stateless person or a non-citizen.

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