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PACE president stresses need for equal treatment for all those living in the Baltic states

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Rene van der Linden, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), is completing his visit to Lithuania today. As a REGNUM correspondent reports, at a news conference at the Lithuanian Seimas, the PACE president announced that “discrimination in the Baltic countries is inadmissible.” “All citizens and all people should have equal rights,” Rene van der Linden said. Speaking on the problem of dual citizenship in Lithuania, the PACE president stressed that “it must be granted to everyone on equal rights,” not only to Lithuanians.

While discussing the issue of human trafficking, Rene van der Linden called the Lithuanian government to prepare and register certain measures in combating it. The PACE president also spoke in support of changing the regime of moving of Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian citizen in the European Union. According to him, it must be eased and the visa must cost less than now.

Rene van der Linden supported Lithuanias initiatives to condemn all totalitarian regimes that existed in Europe. According to him, it reflects Lithuanias interests and its “painful past.”

Speaking on the relations between Lithuania and Russia, the PACE president expressed his wish on establishing good relations “not only for their own interests, but for the whole Europe.” Answering a question about the situation with Russian-speaking residents of the Baltic countries, Rene van der Linden reiterated that the situation in Latvia is “inadmissible” and all citizens should have equal rights. “I drew attention to this in Estonia. Millions of people have no status. It is unbelievable that there are so many people living in civilized countries and having no status. We shall take the issue to the Council of Europe. Those countries (Latvia and Estonia — REGNUM) must observe minority rights,” the PACE president announced. Speaking on the conditions of Russian-speaking people in Lithuania, Rene van der Linden praised the authorities for encouraging integration of the Russian-language minority into the Lithuanian society. “I hope this is not a false vision and all the rights are really observed,” he noted.

To remind, Lithuanian citizens cannot have dual citizenship. As soon as a Lithuanian citizen receives the second citizenship, the citizen is automatically deprived of the Lithuanian citizenship. Only several hundred people have dual citizenship in Lithuania; they were granted it on exclusive basis. At the same time, the constitution and the law do not prohibit citizens of other countries receiving the Lithuanian citizenship. So, some Lithuanian citizens willing to have dual citizenship use the following scheme: they receive citizenship of another country, become deprived of the Lithuanian passport automatically, apply for the Lithuanian citizenship again, and if they manage to prove that their relatives live in Lithuania and were born in Lithuania, they receive the Lithuanian passport again without losing citizenship of another country. The procedure can take up to ten years sometimes.

Lithuanian politicians are promoting the idea of permitting the dual citizenship, because due to mass migration of Lithuanians to Europe the number of Lithuanians decreases.

Leader of the leading opposition party in Lithuania “Homeland Union” (Conservatives) Andrius Kubilius subjected an idea to conduct a referendum and allow having dual citizenship without restrictions to harsh criticism. According to him, the dual citizenship can be granted but only to people of Lithuanian origin would like to have the Russian citizenship, and “the Kremlin will have an opportunity to influence the situation in Lithuania protecting its citizens.”

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