Referendum in Lithuania: a country divided over passports?

On 12 May Lithuanians will decide in a referendum on whether to change the constitution to allow dual citizenship. As the commentators explain, the issue is more complicated than it sounds.

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LRT (LT) /

Suspicious discrimination

Only Lithuanians who have emigrated to a country that meets the "criteria of European and transatlantic integration" will be entitled to dual citizenship. And this is precisely where philosopher Viktoras Bachmetjevas sees the problem in LRT:

“Let's translate this stipulation into a language we can all understand: Emigrants in the US or in the UK will be able to keep their Lithuanian citizenship. But those who didn't make such a successful choice will continue to be superfluous for Lithuania. ... Basically the fear is that Lithuania's Russian-speaking population will get Russian passports and these will become a playing card between the two countries. This kind of thinking stems from doubts about the loyalty of the Russian-speakers in our country - but this is neither rooted in fact, nor morally justifiable.”

Delfi (LT) /

Without empathy Lithuania has no future

Marius Ivaškevičius, a leading Lithuanian playwright, joins the chorus of concern about the referendum. He explains on the website Delfi:

“These lines are not intended as agitation, but merely as an attempt to understand what is happening to us here and to uncover the roots of this centrifugal force that is destroying Lithuania. Is it envy? Greed? A lack of empathy? Just because the population is shrinking does not mean that the value of each individual citizen is growing. No, it will just decrease further. Perhaps I've got it wrong or I'm being overdramatic (that is my profession) but I see no future for a disintegrating Lithuania that turns people away. Today there is only growth and increased vigour in nations that are able to attract people from other countries, take them in and integrate them.”