Lt

On the interpretation of the provisions of the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 December 2003 and 13 November 2006 related to citizenship issues

Case No. 40/03; 45/03-36/04

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 DECISION

ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT’S RULINGS OF 30 DECEMBER 2003 AND 13 NOVEMBER 2006

 13 March 2013

Vilnius

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court Toma Birmontienė, Pranas Kuconis, Gediminas Mesonis, Ramutė Ruškytė, Egidijus Šileikis, Algirdas Taminskas, Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis, and Dainius Žalimas,

with the secretary—Daiva Pitrėnaitė,

in the presence of Indrė Pukanasytė, an advisor to the President of the Republic, the representative of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner, who submitted the petition requesting construction of the provisions of the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 December 2003 and 13 November 2006,

pursuant to Article 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, on 5 March 2013 in a public hearing of the Court considered the petition set forth in the Decree (No. 1K-1333) of the President of the Republic “On the Petition Requesting the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania to Construe the Provisions of the Ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Compliance of the Provisions of Legal Acts Regulating the Citizenship Relations with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania’ of 13 November 2006 and the Ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Compliance of President of the Republic of Lithuania Decree No. 40 “On Granting Citizenship of the Republic Lithuania by Way of Exception” of 11 April 2003 to the Extent that it Provides that Citizenship of the Republic Lithuania is Granted to Jurij Borisov by Way of Exception with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Paragraph 1 of Article 16 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Citizenship’ of 30 December 2003” of 14 January 2013 requesting construction of certain provisions of the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 December 2003 and 13 November 2006.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

  1. On 30 December 2003, in constitutional justice case No. 40/03 the Constitutional Court adopted the Ruling “On the compliance of President of the Republic of Lithuania Decree No. 40 ‘On Granting Citizenship of the Republic Lithuania by Way of Exception’ of 11 April 2003 to the extent that it provides that citizenship of the Republic Lithuania is granted to Jurij Borisov by way of exception with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Paragraph 1 of Article 16 of the Republic of Lithuania Law on Citizenship” (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2003, No. 124-5643; hereinafter referred to as the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 December 2003).
  2. On 13 November 2006, in constitutional justice case No. 45/03-36/04 the Constitutional Court adopted the Ruling “On the compliance of the provisions of legal acts regulating the citizenship relations with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania” (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2006, No. 123-4650; hereinafter referred to as the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006).
  3. The President of the Republic, the petitioner, requests to construe, whether the provisions: “[i]n the course of establishment of the grounds of acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and regulation of the procedure of acquisition and loss of citizenship, the legislator enjoys discretion. However, while doing this, the legislator cannot deny the nature and meaning of the institute of citizenship, he must pay heed to the constitutional requirement that a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania may also be a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law. It should be underlined that the provision of Article 12 of the Constitution that a person may be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and, at the same time, a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law, means that such cases established by law can be very rare (individual), that cases of dual citizenship must be extraordinarily rare, exceptional, that under the Constitution it is not permitted to establish any such legal regulation under which cases of dual citizenship would be not extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon. Under the Constitution, expansive construction of the provisions of the Law on Citizenship consolidating an opportunity to be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and a citizen of another state at the same time is impermissible, under which dual citizenship would be not individual, extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon” of Item 4 of Chapter IV of the reasoning part of the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 December 2003, Item 34.3 of Chapter III and Item 10 of Chapter II of the reasoning part of the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006 may be understood so that the legislator may follow the provision that the limitation of cases of dual citizenship is unnecessary, that it is possible to expand the legislative possibilities for citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to hold also citizenship of another state and to establish in a law, without making any amendments to the Constitution under the procedure specified therein, that the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who departed from the Republic to Lithuania to reside in other states after the restoration of independence of the Republic of Lithuania on 11 March 1990 and acquired citizenship of those states, may be citizens of the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time irrespective of the fact that such legal regulation would create preconditions for a large part of citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to be also citizens of other states at the same time.
  4. The President of the Republic, the petitioner, also requests to construe whether the provisions: “the merits of the person who requests to be granted citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of exception must be such and grounded in such a way, so that it would not cause any doubts as to their presence, that even in cases when a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person has merits to the Republic of Lithuania and is linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links, is integrated into the Lithuanian society, when one decides whether to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to such a person by way of exception, one must assess all the circumstances characterizing such a person, and one must follow the interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania“ of Item 68.2.1 of Chapter III of the reasoning part of the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006, as well as the provisions “when construing Paragraph 1 (wording of 16 July 1993) of Article 16 (wording of 3 October 1995) of the Law on Citizenship, the Constitutional Court held that ‘in the sense of the Law on Citizenship, only the activity of the person is to be considered merits to the Republic of Lithuania, when the person very significantly contributes to strengthening of Lithuanian statehood, to the increase of power of Lithuania and its authority in the international community, when it is evident that the person has already been integrated into the Lithuanian society’; that ‘only in such cases there may appear preconditions for consideration and decision whether the citizen of a foreign state or stateless person is with merits to the Republic of Lithuania, as required by the Law on Citizenship’; that ‘while deciding whether the citizen of a foreign state or the stateless person has merits to the Republic of Lithuania, one should, under Paragraph 1 of Article 16 of the Law on Citizenship, assess only the very significant activity to the State of Lithuania itself that it was performed when the person was a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person’ (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 December 2003). Only when the legal regulation established in Article 16 (wording of 16 July 1993) of the Law on Citizenship is construed in this way, it is in line with the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution that with the exception of individual cases provided for by law, no one may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time” of Item 34.3 thereof may be understood so that by establishing by law the cases and conditions of granting citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of exception, the legislator not only enjoys discretion to establish not only the fact that citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may be granted by way of exception to a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person when such a person has special merits to the State of Lithuania and is integrated into the Lithuanian society, is linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links, but also enjoys discretion, without making any amendments to the Constitution under the procedure specified therein, to expand the list of cases and conditions when citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may be granted to a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person by way of exception and to establish also other cases and conditions when citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may be granted by way of exception.

II

At the Constitutional Court hearing, Indrė Pukanasytė, an advisor to the President of the Republic, the representative of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner, explained the reasons which prompted the President of the Republic to request construction of the aforementioned provisions of the Constitutional Court’s rulings and answered the questions of the justices of the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

  1. The powers of the Constitutional Court to officially construe its own rulings are consolidated in the Law on the Constitutional Court; a decision concerning construction of a Constitutional Court ruling shall be adopted at a Constitutional Court hearing as a separate document (Article 61).
  2. The Constitutional Court has held that, even though the powers of the Constitutional Court to construe its rulings and other final acts are not expressis verbis consolidated in the Constitution, they doubtlessly arise from the Constitution—the entirety of the constitutional legal regulation (inter alia the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law); such Constitutional Court powers are implied by the constitutional mission of the Constitutional Court itself to administer constitutional justice, guarantee the supremacy of the Constitution in the legal system and constitutional legality (the Constitutional Court’s decisions of 14 March 2006 and 29 November 2012).
  3. In its acts the Constitutional Court has held more than once that the purpose of the institute of construction of its rulings and its other final acts is to disclose the contents and meaning of corresponding provisions of a Constitutional Court ruling or its other final act more broadly and in more detail, if it is necessary, in order to ensure proper execution of that Constitutional Court ruling or other final act so that this Constitutional Court ruling or other final act would be followed (inter alia the Constitutional Court’s decisions of 22 December 2010, 23 February 2011, 5 September 2011 and 29 November 2012). Construction of a ruling of other final act of the Constitutional Court might be significant while seeking not only to ensure the proper implementation of the decision consolidated in the operative part of that act, but also the fact that in the law-making process one would properly take account of the official constitutional doctrine formed by the Constitutional Court (the Constitutional Court’s decision of 29 November 2012).

In its decision of 29 November 2012, the Constitutional Court emphasised that the purpose of construction of the Constitutional Court’s ruling and other final act is to explain more comprehensively those provisions and formulations of the Constitutional Court’s ruling or other final act due to the meaning of which there are some uncertainties, but not how to implement the said ruling or other final act in a concrete situation, inter alia in the sphere of application of law.

  1. Paragraph 3 of Article 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court prescribes that the Constitutional Court must construe its ruling without changing its content. The Constitutional Court has held that in the course of construction of its ruling, it is bound by the content of both the operative and reasoning parts of its ruling. It has also been held more than once that this provision of Paragraph 3 of Article 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, among other things, means that, while construing its ruling, the Constitutional Court cannot construe its content so that the meaning of its provisions, inter alia the notional entirety of the elements constituting the content of the ruling, the arguments and reasoning upon which that Constitutional Court ruling is based, is changed, also that the Constitutional Court may not construe what was not investigated in that constitutional justice case, subsequent to which the construed ruling was adopted, either. The consideration of a petition requesting to construe a Constitutional Court ruling or its other final act does not imply a new constitutional justice case.

Thus, while construing its final acts, the Constitutional Court does not review them as well as it may not refer to other reasons than those set forth in the reasoning part of the construed legal act and to construe the final act differently from what is decided in its operative part.

  1. It needs to be noted that the Constitutional Court executes constitutional judicial control; the Constitutional Court is the institution of constitutional justice; the Constitutional Court—an individual and independent court—administers constitutional justice and guarantees the supremacy of the Constitution in the legal system as well as constitutional legitimacy (inter alia the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 6 June 2006, 29 June 2010 and the decision of 19 December 2012). It needs also to be noted that the Constitutional Court, while invoking its already formed official constitutional doctrine and precedents, must ensure the continuity of the constitutional jurisprudence (its consistency and non-discrepancy) as well as the predictability of its decisions (the Constitutional Court’s decision of 21 November 2006 and the rulings of 22 October 2007, 24 October 2007, and 5 September 2012).

Thus, the Constitutional Court is a legal, but not a political institution. The Constitutional Court decides the legal questions attributed to its competence under the Constitution only by invoking legal arguments, inter alia the already formulated (by itself) official constitutional doctrine and precedents. While taking account of this, it needs to be noted that the construction of final acts of the Constitutional Court may not be determined by accidental (from the legal point of view) factors (for example, change in the composition of the Constitutional Court); the Constitutional Court may not construe its final acts by following inter alia the arguments of political expediency, the documents of political parties or different public organisations, opinions of and assessments by politicians, political science or sociological research, results of public opinion polls. Otherwise, presumptions to doubt the impartiality of the Constitutional Court might appear and there might arise a threat to its independence and the stability of the Constitution itself, inter alia the official constitutional doctrine.

  1. It is also to be noted that the uniformity and continuity of the official constitutional doctrine implies a necessity to construe each provision of a Constitutional Court ruling or its other final act that is being construed by taking account of the entire official constitutional doctrinal context, also of other provisions (explicit and implicit) of the Constitution, which are related with the provision (provisions) of the Constitution in the course of the construction of which in a Constitutional Court ruling or its other final act the corresponding official constitutional doctrine was formulated. As the Constitutional Court has held more than once, no official constitutional doctrinal provision of a Constitutional Court ruling or its other final act may be construed in isolation, by ignoring its meaning and systemic links with the other official constitutional doctrinal provisions set forth in that Constitutional Court ruling, its other final act, or in other Constitutional Court acts, as well as with other provisions (explicit and implicit) of the Constitution (inter alia the Constitutional Court’s decisions of 28 October 2009, 6 November 2009 and 18 December 2009).
  2. It has also been held in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court more than once that the formula “shall be final and not subject to appeal” of Paragraph 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution, which provides that the decisions of the Constitutional Court on issues ascribed to its competence by the Constitution shall be final and not subject to appeal, also means that the Constitutional Court rulings, conclusions and decisions by which a constitutional justice case is finished, i.e. final acts of the Constitutional Court, are obligatory to all state institutions, courts, all enterprises, establishments and organisations, as well as officials and citizens, including the Constitutional Court itself: final acts of the Constitutional Court are obligatory to the Constitutional Court itself, they restrict the Constitutional Court in the aspect that it may not change them or review them if there are no constitutional grounds for that.

The Constitutional Court has also held more than once that in the official construction (subsequent to a petition of the parties to the case, other institutions and individuals, to whom the Constitutional Court ruling was sent, also on the initiative of the Constitutional Court itself) of rulings and other final acts of the Constitutional Court, the official constitutional doctrine is not corrected; the correction of the official constitutional doctrine (which, undoubtedly, must always have a constitutional basis and be explicitly reasoned in a respective act of the Constitutional Court) is to be related with the consideration of new constitutional justice cases and creation of new Constitutional Court precedents therein, but not with the official construction of provisions of the Constitutional Court rulings and other final acts (the Constitutional Court’s decisions of 6 December 2007, 1 February 2008, 4 July 2008, 15 January 2009, 15 May 2009, 28 October 2009, 6 November 2009 and 18 December 2009).

II

  1. The President of the Republic, the petitioner, inter alia requests construction of whether the following provisions of Item 4 of Chapter IV of the reasoning part of the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 December 2003 and Item 34.3 of Chapter III and Item 10 of Chapter II of the reasoning part of the ruling of 13 November 2006:

– “[i]n the course of establishment of the grounds of acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and regulation of the procedure of acquisition and loss of citizenship, the legislator enjoys discretion. However, while doing this, the legislator cannot deny the nature and meaning of the institute of citizenship, he must pay heed to the constitutional requirement that a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania may also be a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law”;

– “[i]t should be underlined that the provision of Article 12 of the Constitution that a person may be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and, at the same time, a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law, means that such cases established by law can be very rare (individual), that cases of dual citizenship must be extraordinarily rare, exceptional, that under the Constitution it is not permitted to establish any such legal regulation under which cases of dual citizenship would be not extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon”;

– “[u]nder the Constitution, expansive construction of the provisions of the Law on Citizenship consolidating an opportunity to be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and a citizen of another state at the same time is impermissible, under which dual citizenship would be not individual, extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon”—

may be understood so that the legislator may follow the provision that it the limitation of cases of dual citizenship is unnecessary, that it is possible to expand the legislative possibilities for citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to hold also citizenship of another state and to establish in a law, without making any amendments to the Constitution under the procedure specified therein, that the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who departed from the Republic to Lithuania to reside in other states after the restoration of independence of the Republic of Lithuania on 11 March 1990 and acquired citizenship of those states, may be citizens of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time irrespective of the fact that such legal regulation would create preconditions for a large part of citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to be also citizens of other states at the same time.

  1. From the explanations of the representative of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner, it is obvious that essentially it is requested to construe the specified provisions of the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 December 2003 and 13 November 2006 in one aspect: whether, without making any amendments to the Constitution, it is possible to establish any such legal regulation by law so that the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who departed from the Republic to Lithuania to reside in other states after the restoration of independence of the Republic of Lithuania on 11 March 1990 and acquired citizenship of those states could be citizens of the Republic of Lithuania and of another state at the same time.
  2. As mentioned before, Paragraph 3 of Article 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court prescribes that the Constitutional Court must construe its ruling without changing its content; the consideration of a petition requesting to construe a Constitutional Court ruling or its other final act does not imply a new constitutional justice case; in the official construction of rulings and other final acts of the Constitutional Court, the official constitutional doctrine is not corrected. It has also been mentioned that, while construing its final acts, the Constitutional Court does not review them as well as it may not refer to other reasons than those set forth in the reasoning part of the construed legal act and to construe the final act differently from what is decided in its operative part.

It has also been mentioned that the Constitutional Court is a legal, but not a political institution; the Constitutional Court decides the legal questions attributed to its competence under the Constitution only by invoking legal arguments, inter alia the already formulated (by itself) official constitutional doctrine and precedents; the construction of the final acts of the Constitutional Court may not be determined by accidental (from the legal point of view) factors (for example, change in the composition of the Constitutional Court); the Constitutional Court may not construe its final acts by following inter alia the arguments of political expediency, documents of political parties or different public organisations, opinions of and assessments by politicians, political science or sociological research, results of public opinion polls.

  1. Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution prescribes: “With the exception of individual cases provided for by law, no one may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time”.

4.1. This provision of the Constitution consolidates a general prohibition to hold both citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and citizenship of another state: “no one may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time.” However, as the Constitutional Court noted in its ruling of 13 November 2006, this prohibition of dual citizenship entrenched in the Constitution is not absolute—under Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution, the law may and must provide individual cases, when a person may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time.

It needs to be noted that the formula “with the exception of individual cases provided for by law” means that the law regulating the citizenship relations may establish only exceptional cases when a person may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time, i.e. the legal regulation must be so that the cases of dual (multiple) citizenship would be an exception to the prohibition of such citizenship expressed by the formula “no one may” and not a rule denying this prohibition.

4.2. In its rulings of 30 December 2003 and 13 November 2006, while construing Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court formulated the provisions specified in the petition of the petitioner:

– in the course of establishment of the grounds of acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and regulation of the procedure of acquisition and loss of citizenship, the legislator enjoys discretion; while doing this, the legislator cannot deny the nature and meaning of the institute of citizenship, he must pay heed to the constitutional requirement that a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania may also be a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law;

– the provision of Article 12 of the Constitution that a person may be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and, at the same time, a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law, means that such cases established by law can be very rare (individual), that cases of dual citizenship must be extraordinarily rare, exceptional, that, under the Constitution, it is not permitted to establish any such legal regulation under which cases of dual citizenship would be not extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon”;

– under the Constitution, also such expansive construction of the provisions of the Law on Citizenship consolidating an opportunity to be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and a citizen of another state at the same time is impermissible, under which dual citizenship would be not individual, extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon.

4.3. Thus, while taking account of the formula of the petition of the President of the Republic, the petitioner, it needs to be noted that under the Constitution, the legislator may not follow the provision that the limitation of cases of dual (multiple) citizenship is unnecessary.

  1. It has been mentioned that the President of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner, requests to construe the provisions of the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 December 2003 and 13 November 2006 specified in the petition in one aspect: whether, without making any amendments to the Constitution, it is possible to establish any such legal regulation by law so that the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who departed from the Republic to Lithuania to reside in other states after the restoration of independence of the Republic of Lithuania on 11 March 1990 and acquired citizenship of those states could be citizens of the Republic of Lithuania and of another state at the same time. It needs to be noted that the petitioner also specifies that such legal regulation would create preconditions for a large part of citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to be also citizens of other states at the same time. Thus, it is obvious from the petition of the petitioner that it requests construction of whether, under the Constitution, it is possible to establish such legal regulation under which dual (multiple) citizenship would be not individual, extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon.

It has been mentioned that the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution that a person may be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and, at the same time, a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law, means that such cases established by law can be very rare (individual), that cases of dual citizenship must be extraordinarily rare, exceptional, that, under the Constitution, it is not permitted to establish any such legal regulation under which cases of dual citizenship would be not extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon; under the Constitution, also such expansive construction of the provisions of the Law on Citizenship consolidating an opportunity to be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and a citizen of another state at the same time, under which dual citizenship would be not individual, extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon, is impermissible, either.

Thus, the petitioner requests construction of whether, under the Constitution, one may establish a legal regulation different from the one allowed according to Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution.

  1. In this context it needs to be noted that, in its ruling of 13 November 2006, the Constitutional Court recognised inter alia the legal regulation established in Paragraph 2 (wording of 6 April 2006) of Article 18 of the Law on Citizenship, under which the persons who acquired citizenship of another state after 1 January 2003 do not lose citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania provided that they are the persons who held Lithuanian citizenship prior to 15 June 1940, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as persons of Lithuanian origin, as being in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution. While assessing this legal regulation, the Constitutional Court noted that “in such a way preconditions are created for dual citizenship to be not an especially rare exception, but a widespread phenomenon.”

Thus, the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006 recognised the legal regulation, under which persons of two categories who acquired citizenship of another state after 1 January 2003 could hold citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and of another state—persons who held Lithuanian citizenship prior to 15 June 1940, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as persons of Lithuanian origin—as being in conflict with the Constitution. In certain aspects it included a smaller circle of persons than it is specified in the petition of the petitioner: the legal regulation, under which citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and another state could be held by the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who acquired citizenship of a foreign state not after 11 March 1990, but after 1 January 2003, and not by all citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who departed from the Republic of Lithuania to reside in other states and acquired citizenship of those states, but only those citizens who held Lithuanian citizenship prior to 15 June 1940, their children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, or those who were of Lithuanian origin, was recognised as being in conflict with the Constitution. It needs to be noted that the fact that in the petition it is requested regarding the possibility of the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who departed from the Republic of Lithuania to reside in other states and acquired citizenship of those states to hold also citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania essentially does not change the estimation that the request concerns a larger circle of persons than it was prescribed by the legal regulation which was recognised as being in conflict with the Constitution by the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006, since the acquisition of citizenship of another state in this context usually means the acquisition of citizenship by way of naturalisation which is normally related to living in a certain state.

Thus, as the petitioner herself has also recognised, the legal regulation, under which citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who departed from the Republic of Lithuania to reside in other states after the restoration of independence of the Republic of Lithuania on 11 March 1990 and who acquired citizenship of those states could be citizens of the Republic of Lithuania and of another state at the same time, would also create preconditions for dual (multiple) citizenship to be not an individual, extraordinarily rare exception, but a widespread phenomenon, thus, it would be incompatible with Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution.

  1. In this context it also needs to be noted that, in its ruling of 13 November 2006, while assessing the legal regulation prescribed by the Law on Citizenship (wording of 17 September 2002 with subsequent amendments and supplements) which was effective at the time of consideration of the constitutional justice case, the Constitutional Court noted that the legislator, while disregarding the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution that with the exception of individual cases provided for by law, no one may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time, continuously expanded by law the possibilities of citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to hold also citizenship of another state; finally, such legal regulation was established, under which a large part of citizens of the Republic of Lithuania could be also citizens of other states at the same time; the legal regulation prescribed by the Law on Citizenship (wording of 17 September 2002 with subsequent amendments and supplements) not only did not prevent from that, but even encouraged such a tendency; under the Constitution, it was not justifiable. As mentioned before, under the Constitution, the legislator may not follow the provision that the limitation of cases of dual (multiple) citizenship is unnecessary.
  2. In its ruling of 13 November 2006 the Constitutional Court emphasised that if the legislator really follows the provision that it the limitation of dual citizenship in unnecessary, he should first of all start the revision of the corresponding provisions of the Constitution, inter alia of Article 12, and do that by following the procedure which is established in the Constitution itself. In this context the Constitutional Court noted that Article 12 of the Constitution which establishes the basis for the legal regulation of citizenship relations of the Republic of Lithuania is in Chapter I titled “The State of Lithuania” of the Constitution—an integral act—for the provisions of which a particularly big constitutional protection has been established: under Paragraph 2 of Article 148 of the Constitution, the provisions of Chapter I of the Constitution may be altered only by referendum.

Thus, without making any amendments to the Constitution, inter alia without having altered Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution by referendum, it is not allowed to establish by law any such legal regulation specified by the petitioner whereby the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who departed from the Republic to Lithuania to reside in other states after the restoration of independence of the Republic of Lithuania on 11 March 1990 and acquired citizenship of those states could be citizens of the Republic of Lithuania and of another state at the same time.

  1. In this context it needs also to be noted that Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution is also related with other provisions of the Constitution, inter alia the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 56 of the Constitution that “any citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who is not bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state may be elected a Member of the Seimas” which inter alia means that a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who is at the same time also a citizen of another state may not stand in elections for a Member of the Seimas. As the Constitutional Court noted in its ruling of 11 November 1998 while construing this provision of the Constitution, any commitments of political nature to a foreign state, whether they arise from a formally taken oath or pledge or whether they occur as a political duty or a political loyalty requirement linked to the fact of possession of citizenship of another state are to be treated as a pledge to a foreign state; the most important way to meet the constitutional condition, i.e. to be a person “who is not bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state,” is repudiation of citizenship of a foreign state.
  2. While taking account of the arguments set forth, one needs to draw a conclusion that the provisions “in the course of establishment of the grounds of acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and regulation of the procedure of acquisition and loss of citizenship, the legislator enjoys discretion; however, while doing this, the legislator cannot deny the nature and meaning of the institute of citizenship, he must pay heed to the constitutional requirement that a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania may also be a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law. It should be underlined that the provision of Article 12 of the Constitution that a person may be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and, at the same time, a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law, means that such cases established by law can be very rare (individual), that cases of dual citizenship must be extraordinarily rare, exceptional, that under the Constitution it is not permitted to establish any such legal regulation under which cases of dual citizenship would be not extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon. Under the Constitution, expansive construction of the provisions of the Law on Citizenship consolidating an opportunity to be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and a citizen of another state at the same time is impermissible, under which dual citizenship would be not individual, extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon” of Item 4 of Chapter IV of the reasoning part of the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 December 2003 and Item 34.3 of Chapter III and Item 10 of Chapter II of the reasoning part of the ruling of 13 November 2006 inter alia mean that, without making any amendments to the Constitution under the procedure established therein, it is not allowed to establish any such legal regulation by law so that the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who departed from the Republic to Lithuania to reside in other states after the restoration of independence of the Republic of Lithuania on 11 March 1990 and acquired citizenship of those states could be citizens of the Republic of Lithuania and of another state at the same time.

III

  1. The President of the Republic, the petitioner, inter alia requests to construe whether the provisions of Chapter III of the reasoning part of the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006:

– the provisions of Item 68.2.1. “the merits of the person who requests to be granted citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of exception must be such and grounded in such a way, so that it would not cause any doubts as to their presence”, “even in cases when a citizen of a foreign state has merits to the Republic of Lithuania and is linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links, is integrated into the Lithuanian society, when one decides whether to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to such a person by way of exception, one must assess all the circumstances characterizing such a person, and one must follow the interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania;”

– the provisions of Item 34.3 “when construing Paragraph 1 (wording of 16 July 1993) of Article 16 (wording of 3 October 1995) of the Law on Citizenship, the Constitutional Court held that ‘in the sense of the Law on Citizenship, only the activity of the person is to be considered merits to the Republic of Lithuania, when the person very significantly contributes to strengthening of Lithuanian statehood, to the increase of power of Lithuania and its authority in the international community, when it is evident that the person has already been integrated into the Lithuanian society’; ‘only in such cases there may appear preconditions for consideration and decision whether the citizen of a foreign state or stateless person is with merits to the Republic of Lithuania, as required by the Law on Citizenship’; ‘while deciding whether the citizen of a foreign state or the stateless person has merits to the Republic of Lithuania, one should, under Paragraph 1 of Article 16 of the Law on Citizenship, assess only the very significant activity to the State of Lithuania itself that it was performed when the person was a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person’ (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 December 2003). Only when the legal regulation established in Article 16 (wording of 16 July 1993) of the Law on Citizenship is construed in this way, it is in line with the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution that with the exception of individual cases provided for by law, no one may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time”—

may be understood so that by establishing the cases and conditions of granting citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of exception by law, the legislator not only enjoys discretion to establish not only the fact that citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may be granted by way of exception to a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person when such a person has merits to the State of Lithuania and is integrated into the Lithuanian society, is linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links, but also enjoys discretion, without making any amendments to the Constitution under the procedure specified therein, to expand the list of cases and conditions when citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may be granted to a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person by way of exception and to establish also other cases and conditions when citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may be granted by way of exception.

  1. Thus, the President of the Republic, the petitioner, in substance, requests construction of the provisions of the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006, under which citizenship may be granted to a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person by way of exception, when such a person has special merits to the State of Lithuania, is linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links, and is integrated into the Lithuanian society, as well as the provision that only when the legal regulation established in the Law on Citizenship is construed in this way, it is in line with the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution that with the exception of individual cases provided for by law, no one may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time. Construction of these provisions only in one aspect is requested: whether they mean that without making any amendments to the Constitution under the procedure specified therein, the legislator may establish also other cases and conditions when citizenship may be granted by way of exception, and not only the fact that citizenship may be granted by way of exception to a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person when such a person has merits to the State of Lithuania, is linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links and is integrated into the Lithuanian society.
  2. As mentioned before, Paragraph 3 of Article 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court prescribes that the Constitutional Court must construe its ruling without changing its content; the consideration of a petition requesting to construe a Constitutional Court ruling or its other final act does not imply a new constitutional justice case; in the official construction of rulings and other final acts of the Constitutional Court, the official constitutional doctrine is not corrected; while construing its final acts, the Constitutional Court does not review them as well as it may not refer to other reasons than those set forth in the reasoning part of the construed legal act and to construe the final act differently from what is decided in its operative part.

It has also been mentioned that the Constitutional Court may not construe its final acts by following inter alia the arguments of political expediency, documents of political parties or different public organisations, opinions of and assessments by politicians, political science or sociological research, results of public opinion polls.

It has also been mentioned that the uniformity and continuity of the official constitutional doctrine implies a necessity to construe each provision of a Constitutional Court ruling or its other final act that is being construed by taking account of the entire official constitutional doctrinal context, also of other provisions (explicit and implicit) of the Constitution, which are related with the provision (provisions) of the Constitution in the course of the construction of which in a Constitutional Court ruling or its other final act the corresponding official constitutional doctrinal provision was formulated; no official constitutional doctrinal provision of a Constitutional Court ruling or its other final act may be construed in isolation, by ignoring its meaning and systemic links with the other official constitutional doctrinal provisions set forth in that a Constitutional Court ruling, its other final act, in other Constitutional Court acts, as well as with other provisions (explicit and implicit) of the Constitution.

  1. The President of the Republic, the petitioner, requests construction of the provisions of the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006 related to granting of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to citizens of a foreign state or stateless persons by way of exception for merits to the State of Lithuania.

4.1. In this context it needs to be noted that citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania is a constitutional institute (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 June 2006). The grounds of this constitutional institute are consolidated in Article 12 of the Constitution which provides that citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania shall be acquired by birth and other grounds established by law (Paragraph 1), that with the exception of individual cases provided for by law, no one may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time (Paragraph 2) and that the procedure for the acquisition and loss of citizenship shall be established by law (Paragraph 3).

Paragraph 1 of Article 12 of the Constitution specifies the main way of acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania: citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania shall be acquired by birth; under Article 12 of the Constitution, citizenship may be acquired not only by birth (filiation) but also by other grounds established by law (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006). The provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 12 of the Constitution that other grounds for acquisition of citizenship can also be established by law, and the provision of Paragraph 3 of the same article that the procedure for the acquisition and loss of citizenship shall be established by law mean that the legislator has a duty to pass a law establishing the grounds of acquisition of citizenship and regulating the procedure for the acquisition and loss of citizenship (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 December 2003).

Thus, other grounds of acquisition of citizenship than filiation, inter alia granting of citizenship for citizens of foreign states or stateless persons by way of exception for merits to the State of Lithuania, are not explicitly provided in the Constitution; the legislator establishes them while following the Constitution. As the Constitutional Court noted in its ruling of 13 November 2006, in the course of establishment of the grounds of acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and regulation of the procedure for acquisition and loss of citizenship, the legislator enjoys discretion; while doing this, the legislator cannot deny the nature and meaning of the institute of citizenship, he must pay heed to the constitutional requirement that a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania may also be a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law.

4.2. While construing the constitutional institute of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court has held: citizenship is a permanent, uninterrupted legal link between the person and the state (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 December 2003 and 13 November 2006); citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania expresses legal membership of the person in the State of Lithuania, reflects legal belongingness of the person to the civil Nation as a state community; the link between citizens and the state is mutual: citizenship provides the person with and guarantees him the civil (political) rights and establishes his certain duties to the state; certain duties of the state to its citizens arise from the citizenship relations (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006).

4.3. The discretion of the legislator to establish the grounds of acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and regulate the procedure of acquisition and loss of citizenship which stems from Article 12 of the Constitution is bound inter alia by Item 21 of Article 84 of the Constitution, under which the President of the Republic shall grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania according to the procedure established by law. The provision of Item 21 of Article 84 of the Constitution means that no other subject may grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania, that the President of the Republic, when he decides an issue of granting of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania, must follow the requirements established by the law, that the President of the Republic is prohibited from granting citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania if he does not follow the requirements established in the law and the established procedure (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 December 2003).

It needs to be noted that the provision of Item 21 of Article 84 of the Constitution implies the provision for the legislator to establish a common ground—that of naturalisation—of granting of citizenship to citizens of foreign states and stateless persons. In its rulings of 30 December 2003 and 13 November 2006 the Constitutional Court noted that it is also possible to acquire citizenship by way of naturalisation, i.e. citizenship is granted to a person who meets the conditions established in the law; as a rule, such conditions are requirements of permanent residence in the state for a certain time period established in the law, and of knowledge of the state language; these requirements are based on the provision that the person wishing to acquire citizenship and the state must be linked by a permanent factual link before citizenship is granted, that permanent residence in the state during a certain time period established in the law and knowledge of the state language are necessary preconditions for a foreigner or a stateless person to integrate himself into the society, to perceive the mentality of the Nation and its strivings, the constitutional order of the state, to get acquainted with the history, culture, customs and traditions of the Nation and the state, to be prepared to take responsibility for the present and the future of the state. Thus, under the Constitution, necessary conditions to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of naturalisation are a permanent factual link of a person with the State of Lithuania and integration into the Lithuanian society, the necessary preconditions whereof are permanent residence in the state during a certain time period established in the law, knowledge of the state language, as well as other significant circumstances provided in the law showing inter alia the fact that the person perceives the strivings of the Nation, the constitutional order of the state, is acquainted with the history and culture of the Nation and is prepared, as a member of society, to participate when the affairs of the nation and the state are decided.

It needs also to be noted that, while regulating acquisition of citizenship by way of naturalisation one must heed the general prohibition to hold citizenship of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state which is consolidated in Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution, i.e. granting of citizenship to citizens of foreign state under the general procedure must be linked to loss or repudiation of citizenship of another state; loss, repudiation or non-holding of citizenship of another state must be one of the essential conditions necessary for granting citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of naturalisation.

It also needs to be noted that, while one takes account of the fact that citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania expresses legal membership of the person in the State of Lithuania and reflects his legal belongingness to the state community, the civil Nation, the President of the Republic, when he decides whether to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to a person, must be guided by interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 December 2003 and 13 November 2006). Thus, the provision of Item 21 of Article 84 of the Constitution implies the right, but not the duty, of the President of the Republic to grant citizenship by way of naturalisation to citizens of foreign states or stateless persons who meet the conditions of naturalisation prescribed by law; even for those persons who meet those conditions citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may be not granted provided that granting it would not meet the interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania. Thus, when the President of the Republic is deciding whether to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of naturalisation, all the circumstances describing a person who requests to grant citizenship must be assessed, i.e. not only those circumstances due to which, under the law, one is prohibited from granting citizenship. Thus, the President of the Republic has not only the duty to require from the corresponding state institutions and officials the confirmation that there are not any such circumstances due to which citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may not be granted, but also the right to receive any information they have which describes the person that requests to grant citizenship and which may be significant when assessing whether granting of citizenship would meet the interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania.

4.4. It has been mentioned that such a way of acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania as granting of citizenship by way of exception for merits to the State of Lithuania is not explicitly provided in the Constitution; in the course of establishment of the grounds of acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and regulation of the procedure of acquisition and loss of citizenship, the legislator enjoys discretion. From the provision of Item 21 of Article 84 of the Constitution which, as mentioned before, implies the duty for the legislator to provide a general procedure of granting citizenship—by way of naturalisation—to citizens of foreign states and stateless persons, no requirement arises for the legislator to establish also a different procedure for granting of citizenship. Thus, establishment of citizenship by way of exception for merits to the State of Lithuania is the discretion of the legislator, such a procedure for granting of citizenship is a matter of a law which regulates citizenship relations. While enjoying this discretion, the legislator must heed the Constitution; as mentioned before, the legislator cannot deny the nature and meaning of the institute of citizenship, in addition to other things, he must pay heed to the constitutional requirement that a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania may also be a citizen of another state at the same time only in individual cases established by law.

4.4.1. As the Constitutional Court noted in its ruling of 13 November 2006, granting of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of exception is an exceptional, special and extraordinary case. In this context it needs to be noted that granting of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to citizens of foreign states or stateless persons by way of exception implies exceptions to the general procedure of granting citizenship—by way of naturalisation—to citizens of foreign states and stateless persons. This may first of all be an exception to the general prohibition to hold both citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and citizenship of another state which is consolidated in Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution.

It has been mentioned that the legislator must pay heed to the constitutional requirement that a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania may also be a citizen of another state at the same time only in individual cases established by law; in its rulings of 30 December 2003 and 13 November 2006, the Constitutional Court emphasised that the provision of Article 12 of the Constitution that a person may be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and, at the same time, a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law, means that such cases established by law can be very rare (individual), that cases of dual citizenship must be extraordinarily rare, exceptional, that under the Constitution it is not permitted to establish any such legal regulation under which cases of dual citizenship would be not extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon.

Thus, the legal regulation of granting citizenship to citizens of foreign states and stateless persons by way of exception, under which citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania could be granted under this procedure only on such an exceptional ground which would constitutionally justify the exception to the general prohibition to hold both citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and citizenship of another state, would comply with the Constitution. As it is obvious from the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006, such an exceptional ground of granting citizenship to a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person by way of exception is only special merits to the State of Lithuania: in that ruling the Constitutional Court noted that the formula “by way of exception” means that that the merits of the citizen of a foreign state for Lithuania must be exceptional, special and extraordinary; the Constitutional Court recognised the provision of the law, under which citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania could be granted by way of exception when it is related to public interest or glorification of the name of the Republic of Lithuania by representing Lithuania as being in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution, as this provision inter alia meant that citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania could be granted to a person who holds citizenship of another state irrespective of the fact whether this person already has or does not have special merits to the State of Lithuania; the Constitutional Court assessed such legal regulation as groundlessly expanding the possibilities to acquire citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to the persons who hold citizenship of another state.

4.4.2. While revealing the concept (which is compatible with the Constitution) of merits to the State of Lithuania for which citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may be granted to citizens of foreign states or stateless persons, in its rulings of 30 December 2003 and 13 November 2006, the Constitutional Court held:

– in the sense of the Law on Citizenship, only the activity of the person is to be considered merits to the Republic of Lithuania, when the person very significantly contributes to strengthening of Lithuanian statehood, to the increase of power of Lithuania and its authority in the international community; only in such cases there may appear preconditions for consideration and decision whether a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person is with merits to the Republic of Lithuania; the corresponding merits of a citizen of a foreign state to Lithuania must be exceptional, special and extraordinary;

– by means of laws or other legal acts one cannot establish a final list of merits, for which a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person can be granted citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of exception;

– only the President of the Republic decides whether a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person is with merits to the State of Lithuania; when deciding this, the President of the Republic cannot disregard the requirement established in the Law on Citizenship that a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person must have merits not to any subject, but to the State of Lithuania itself;

– the merits of the person who requests to be granted citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of exception must be such and grounded in such a way that it would not cause any doubts as to their presence;

– while deciding whether a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person has merits to the Republic of Lithuania, one should assess only the very significant activity to the State of Lithuania itself that was performed when the person was a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person.

In this context it needs to be noted that, while revealing the content of the constitutional institute of the state awards, the Constitutional Court construed the concept of merits to the State of Lithuania in a similar fashion in its rulings of 12 May 2006 and 7 September 2010. In those Constitutional Court’s rulings inter alia the following was held: the persons with merits to the State of Lithuania, i.e. those who conducted exceptional deeds demanding extraordinary efforts or even self-sacrifice and which provided exceptional benefits to the State of Lithuania, its society or certain spheres of life of this country, are honoured in the name of the state by means of state awards.

4.4.3. While summarising the concept of merits to the State of Lithuania for which citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may be granted to citizens of foreign states or stateless persons by way of exception, it needs to be noted that:

– they must be special and undoubted merits to the State of Lithuania itself;

– the activity of the person is to be considered special merits to the Republic of Lithuania, when the person very significantly contributes to strengthening of Lithuanian statehood, to the increase of power of Lithuania and its authority in the international community, i.e. exceptional deeds demanding extraordinary efforts or even self-sacrifice, which provided exceptional benefits to the State of Lithuania, its society or certain spheres of life of this country;

– such merits to the State of Lithuania is a particularly significant activity which was performed by the person who requests to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of exception when this person was a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person, i.e. any future feasible activity of a person, even though significant to the State of Lithuania and after citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania has been granted, may not be considered as such merits;

– while considering the request to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of exception and assessing all the significant circumstances, the President of the Republic shall decide each time whether the person has special and undoubted merits to the State of Lithuania.

4.4.4. As mentioned before, while construing acquisition of citizenship by way of naturalisation in its rulings of 30 December 2003 and 13 November 2006, the Constitutional Court noted that the person wishing to acquire citizenship and the state must be linked by a permanent factual link before citizenship is granted, that permanent residence in the state during a certain time period established in the law and knowledge of the state language are necessary preconditions for a foreigner or a stateless person to integrate himself into the society, to perceive the mentality of the Nation and its strivings, the constitutional order of the state, to get acquainted with the history, culture, customs and traditions of the Nation and the state, to be prepared to take responsibility for the present and the future of the state. It has also been mentioned that, under the Constitution, necessary conditions to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of naturalisation is a permanent factual link of a person with the State of Lithuania and integration into the Lithuanian society, the necessary preconditions whereof are permanent residence in the state during a certain time period established in the law, knowledge of the state language, as well as other significant circumstances provided in the law showing inter alia the fact that the person perceives the strivings of the Nation, the constitutional order of the state, is acquainted with the history and culture of the Nation and is prepared, as a member of society, to participate when the affairs of the Nation and the state are decided.

It has also been mentioned that granting of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to citizens of foreign states or stateless persons by way of exception implies exceptions to the general procedure for granting of citizenship—by way of naturalisation—to citizens of foreign states and stateless persons. Thus, in addition to the aforementioned exception to the general prohibition to hold both citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and citizenship of another state, while regulating granting of citizenship to citizens of foreign states or stateless persons by way of exception, one may establish exceptions to other conditions of naturalisation—different criteria to be applied while establishing a permanent factual link with the State of Lithuania and integration into the Lithuanian society.

However, as mentioned before, the legislator cannot deny the nature and meaning of the institute of citizenship, inter alia the fact that citizenship is a permanent, uninterrupted legal link between the person and the state, that citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania expresses legal membership of the person in the State of Lithuania, reflects legal belongingness of the person to the civil Nation as a state community. In its ruling of 13 November 2006, the Constitutional Court emphasised the constitutional imperative that a citizen of a foreign state, to whom citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania is granted for his merits to Lithuania and who becomes a member of the Lithuanian state community—civil society, must be linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links and must be integrated into the Lithuanian society. A different construction would deny the nature and essence of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania itself: the legal link between a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person and the State of Lithuania can appear only on the basis of a prior and the continuing legislatively established factual permanent link between the citizen of a foreign state or stateless person and the State of Lithuania (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 December 2003). In its ruling of 30 December 2003, the Constitutional Court noted that citizens of foreign states or stateless persons, who are with merits to the Republic of Lithuania, but who are not linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links, who are not integrated into the Lithuanian society, may be awarded awards of the State of Lithuania (orders, medals, and other decorations); if a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person, who is with merits to the Republic of Lithuania, is not linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links, who is not integrated into the Lithuanian society, there cannot appear a special—permanent and legal—link between such a person and the State of Lithuania, which is expressed by citizenship.

In the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006 it was held that the preconditions for violation of Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution may appear not only when the legal regulation is established whereby dual citizenship becomes not an especially rare exception, but a widespread phenomenon, but also when citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania is granted (also by way of exception) to persons who hold citizenship of another state, who are not linked by a permanent factual link with the State of Lithuania and are not integrated into the Lithuanian society; in both cases citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may be devaluated.

It needs to be noted that in its ruling of 13 November 2006 the Constitutional Court assessed the legal regulation under which citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania could be granted by way of exception when it was related to public interest or glorification of the name of the Republic of Lithuania by representing Lithuania as being incompatible with the constitutional concept of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania, since this provision inter alia meant that a person who held citizenship of another state might be granted citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania irrespective of whether he already had special merits to the State of Lithuania or not yet, whether he already was linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links or not, and whether he had already been integrated into the Lithuanian society or not.

4.4.5. While summarising the conditions of granting citizenship by way of exception for merits to the State of Lithuania linked to establishment of a permanent factual link with the State of Lithuania and integration into the Lithuanian society of a person who requests to grant citizenship, it needs to be noted that:

– while regulating granting of citizenship by way of exception for merits to the State of Lithuania, the legislator must heed the constitutional imperative that a person, who is granted citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania for merits to the State of Lithuania, must be linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links and is integrated into the Lithuanian society; however, the law may establish requirements (related to the permanent factual link of the person who requests to grant citizenship with the State of Lithuania and his integration into the Lithuanian society) non-identical to the corresponding conditions of naturalisation;

– the law may establish requirements different from those of naturalisation, where those requirements are related to the person’s inter alia permanent residence in the state and knowledge of the state language, as well as criteria different from those of permanent residence in the state confirming the person’s permanent factual link with the State of Lithuania that has formed during a certain time and is still continuing and his integration into the Lithuanian society, inter alia the fact that the person’s activity shows that he perceives the strivings of the Nation, the constitutional order of the state, is acquainted with the history and culture of the Nation and the state, and is prepared, as a member of society, to participate when the affairs of the Nation and the state are decided;

– the law may also establish a procedure of establishment of a permanent factual link of a person with the State of Lithuania and integration into the Lithuanian society, which is different from that of naturalisation; while considering the request to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of exception and assessing all the significant circumstances, the President of the Republic shall decide each time whether the person is linked with the State of Lithuania by a permanent factual link and is integrated into the Lithuanian society.

4.4.6. It has been mentioned that the discretion of the legislator to establish the grounds of acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and regulate the procedure of acquisition and loss of citizenship which stems from Article 12 of the Constitution is bound inter alia by Item 21 of Article 84 of the Constitution, under which the President of the Republic shall grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania according to the procedure established by law; the provision of Item 21 of Article 84 of the Constitution means that citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania cannot be granted by any other subject, that, while deciding the question of granting citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania, the President of the Republic must follow the requirements established in the law. It has also to been mentioned that citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania expresses legal membership of the person in the State of Lithuania and reflects his legal belongingness to the state community, the civil Nation, thus, the President of the Republic, when he decides whether to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to a person, must be guided by interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania.

Thus, the provision of Item 21 of Article 84 of the Constitution, as also in case of naturalisation, implies the right, but not the duty, of the President of the Republic to grant citizenship to citizens of foreign states or stateless persons by way of exception prescribed by the law. As the Constitutional noted in its ruling of 30 December 2003, the President of the Republic has the right, but not the duty, to grant citizenship by way of exception to citizens of foreign states or stateless persons who have special merits to the Republic of Lithuania, however, even though a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person has merits to the Republic of Lithuania, citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may be not granted to him by way of exception; it is decided by the President of the Republic at his discretion.

In this context it needs to be noted that in the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006 it was held that even in those cases when a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person has merits to the Republic of Lithuania and is linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links, is integrated into the Lithuanian society, when one decides whether to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to such a person by way of exception, one must assess all the circumstances characterizing such a person, one must follow the interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania. Thus, as also in case of naturalisation, citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may be not granted even to the persons who meet the conditions of granting citizenship by way of exception for merits to the State of Lithuania prescribed by the law if granting of citizenship would not meet the interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania. Thus, when the President of the Republic decides whether to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of exception for merits to the State of Lithuania, all the circumstances describing a person who requests to grant citizenship must be assessed, i.e. not only those circumstances due to which, under the law, one is prohibited from granting citizenship. The President of the Republic has not only the duty to require from the corresponding state institutions and officials the confirmation that there are not any such circumstances due to which citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may not be granted, but also the right to receive any information they have which describes the person that requests to grant citizenship and which may be significant when assessing whether granting of citizenship would meet the interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania.

It also needs to be noted that, as the Constitutional Court held in its ruling of 30 December 2003, the circumstance that only the President of the Republic has the right to decide whether a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person can be granted citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of exception, cannot be interpreted as meaning that the President of the Republic, when deciding whether to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to a citizen of a foreign state or stateless person who has merits to the Republic of Lithuania, may disregard the requirements established in the Constitution and the Law on Citizenship. Thus, the discretion of the President of the Republic to decide regarding granting of citizenship by way of exception for merits to the State of Lithuania is bound by the requirements which stem from the Constitution and are established by law, inter alia the constitutional imperatives that these must be special and undoubted merits to the State of Lithuania itself, that a person who has such merits must be linked to the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links and is integrated into the Lithuanian society.

4.5. While summarising, it needs to be noted that:

– it is the discretion of the legislator to establish such a way of granting of citizenship as its granting by way of exception for merits to the State of Lithuania; while enjoying this discretion, the legislator must heed the Constitution, he cannot deny the nature and meaning of the institute of citizenship, he must pay heed to the constitutional requirement that a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania may also be a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law;

– granting of citizenship to citizens of foreign states or stateless persons by way of exception implies exceptions to the general procedure for granting citizenship—by way of naturalisation—to citizens of foreign states and stateless persons;

– first of all, such an exception may be an exception to the general prohibition to hold both citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and citizenship of another state which is consolidated in Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution; the legal regulation of granting citizenship to citizens of foreign states and stateless persons by way of exception, under which citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania could be granted under this procedure only on such an exceptional ground like special and undoubted merits to the State of Lithuania itself, would comply with the Constitution;

– while regulating granting of citizenship to citizens of foreign states or stateless persons by way of exception, one may establish exceptions to other conditions of naturalisation: the law may establish requirements (related to the person’s inter alia permanent residence in the state and knowledge of the state language) different from those of naturalisation, as well as criteria different from those of permanent residence in the state confirming the person’s permanent factual link with the State of Lithuania that has formed during a certain time and is still continuing, as well as integration into the Lithuanian society;

– an exceptional right of the President of the Republic to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania inter alia by way of exception for merits to the State of Lithuania stems from Item 21 of Article 84 of the Constitution; the discretion of the President of the Republic to decide regarding granting of citizenship by way of exception for merits to the State of Lithuania is bound by the requirements which stem from the Constitution and are established by law, inter alia the constitutional imperatives that these must be special and undoubted merits to the State of Lithuania itself, that a person who has such merits must be linked to the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links and has integrated into the Lithuanian society.

  1. It has been mentioned that the President of the Republic, the petitioner, requests to investigate the provisions of the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006, under which citizenship may be granted to a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person by way of exception, when such a person has special merits to the State of Lithuania, is linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links, and is integrated into the Lithuanian society, as well as the provision that only when the legal regulation established in the Law on Citizenship is construed in this way, it is in line with the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution that with the exception of individual cases provided for by law, no one may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time. Construction of these provisions in one aspect is requested: whether they mean that without making any amendments to the Constitution under the procedure specified therein, the legislator may establish also other cases and conditions when citizenship may be granted by way of exception, and not only the fact that citizenship may be granted by way of exception to a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person when such a person has merits to the State of Lithuania, is linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links and is integrated into the Lithuanian society.

It is obvious that the provision “only when the legal regulation established <...> is construed in this way, it is in line with the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution that with the exception of individual cases provided for by law, no one may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time” of the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006 specified in the petition of the petitioner, which follows other provisions specified by the petitioner in the text of the Constitutional Court’s ruling—“when construing Paragraph 1 (wording of 16 July 1993) of Article 16 (wording of 3 October 1995) of the Law on Citizenship, the Constitutional Court held that ‘in the sense of the Law on Citizenship, only the activity of the person is to be considered merits to the Republic of Lithuania, when the person very significantly contributes to strengthening of Lithuanian statehood, to the increase of power of Lithuania and its authority in the international community, when it is evident that the person has already been integrated into the Lithuanian society’; that ‘only in such cases there may appear preconditions for consideration and decision whether the citizen of a foreign state or stateless person is with merits to the Republic of Lithuania, as required by the Law on Citizenship’; that ‘while deciding whether the citizen of a foreign state or the stateless person has merits to the Republic of Lithuania, one should, under Paragraph 1 of Article 16 of the Law on Citizenship, assess only the very significant activity to the State of Lithuania itself that it was performed when the person was a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person’ (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 December 2003)”—means that if an opposite legal regulation were established, under which citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania could be granted to a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person by way of exception on other ground and not for merits to the State of Lithuania, or without requiring that the person who requests to grant citizenship by way of exception must be integrated into the Lithuanian society, it would not be in line with Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution.

It has been mentioned that the legal regulation of granting citizenship to citizens of foreign states and stateless persons by way of exception, under which citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania could be granted under this procedure only on such an exceptional ground that would constitutionally justify an exception to the general prohibition to hold both citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and citizenship of another state, would comply with the Constitution; such an exceptional ground of granting citizenship to a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person by way of exception is only special and undoubted merits to the State of Lithuania itself; while regulating granting of citizenship by way of exception for merits to the State of Lithuania the legislator must heed the constitutional imperative that a person, who is granted citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania for merits to the State of Lithuania, must be linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links and must be integrated into the Lithuanian society.

  1. In this context it needs also to be noted that, as mentioned before, in its ruling of 13 November 2006 the Constitutional Court inter alia recognised the provision “[c]itizenship of the Republic of Lithuania may also be granted by way of exception without applying conditions for the granting of citizenship provided for <...> when it is related to public interest or glorification of the name of the Republic of Lithuania by representing Lithuania” of Paragraph 1 (wording of 18 July 2006) of Article 16 of the Law on Citizenship as being in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution. The Constitutional Court noted that this provision meant that a person who held citizenship of another state may be granted citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania irrespective of whether he already had special merits to the State of Lithuania or not yet, whether he was already linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links or not, and whether he is already integrated into the Lithuanian society or not. The Constitutional Court assessed such legal regulation as incompatible with the constitutional concept of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania as it had groundlessly expanded the possibilities to acquire citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to persons who held citizenship of another state.

Thus, in its ruling of 13 November 2006, the Constitutional Court recognised the legal regulation establishing other grounds of granting of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to citizens of foreign states or stateless persons by way of exception, but not those regarding merits to the State of Lithuania (i.e. granting of citizenship had been related to public interest or glorification of the name of the Republic of Lithuania by representing Lithuania) as in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution.

  1. While taking account of the arguments set forth, one is to draw a conclusion that the following provisions of Item 68.2.1 of Chapter III of the reasoning part of the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 November 2006: “the merits of the person who requests to be granted citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of exception must be such and grounded in such a way, so that it would not cause any doubts as to their presence”, “even in cases when a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person has merits to the Republic of Lithuania and is linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links, is integrated into the Lithuanian society, when one decides whether to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to such a person by way of exception, one must assess all the circumstances characterizing such a person, and one must follow the interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania”, as well as the following provisions of Item 34.3 of Chapter III of the reasoning part of the same ruling: “when construing Paragraph 1 (wording of 16 July 1993) of Article 16 (wording of 3 October 1995) of the Law on Citizenship, the Constitutional Court held that ‘in the sense of the Law on Citizenship, only the activity of the person is to be considered merits to the Republic of Lithuania, when the person very significantly contributes to strengthening of Lithuanian statehood, to the increase of power of Lithuania and its authority in the international community, when it is evident that the person has already been integrated into the Lithuanian society’; that ‘only in such cases there may appear preconditions for consideration and decision whether the citizen of a foreign state or stateless person is with merits to the Republic of Lithuania, as required by the Law on Citizenship’; that ‘while deciding whether the citizen of a foreign state or the stateless person has merits to the Republic of Lithuania, one should, under Paragraph 1 of Article 16 of the Law on Citizenship, assess only the very significant activity to the State of Lithuania itself that it was performed when the person was a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person’ (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 December 2003). Only when the legal regulation established in Article 16 (wording of 16 July 1993) of the Law on Citizenship is construed in this way, it is in line with the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution that with the exception of individual cases provided for by law, no one may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time” may not be construed as meaning that, without making any amendments to the Constitution under the procedure specified therein, the legislator may establish by law the grounds of granting of citizenship by way of exception other than the ground that citizenship may be granted by way of exception to a citizen of foreign state or a stateless person who has special merits to the State of Lithuania, and may establish other conditions that would deny the requirement that a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person who has special merits to the State of Lithuania must be linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links and must be integrated into the Lithuanian society.

Conforming to Article 102 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1 and 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania has passed the following

decision:

  1. To construe that the provisions: “[i]n the course of establishment of the grounds of acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and regulation of the procedure of acquisition and loss of citizenship, the legislator enjoys discretion. However, while doing this, the legislator cannot deny the nature and meaning of the institute of citizenship, he must pay heed to the constitutional requirement that a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania may also be a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law. It should be underlined that the provision of Article 12 of the Constitution that a person may be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and, at the same time, a citizen of another state only in individual cases established by law, means that such cases established by law can be very rare (individual), that cases of dual citizenship must be extraordinarily rare, exceptional, that under the Constitution it is not permitted to establish any such legal regulation under which cases of dual citizenship would be not extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon. Under the Constitution, expansive construction of the provisions of the Law on Citizenship consolidating an opportunity to be a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania and a citizen of another state at the same time is impermissible, under which dual citizenship would be not individual, extraordinarily rare exceptions, but a widespread phenomenon” of Item 4 of Chapter IV of the reasoning part of the ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania of 30 December 2003 (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2003, No. 124-5643) and Item 34.3 of Chapter III and Item 10 of Chapter II of the reasoning part of the ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania of 13 November 2006 (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2006, No. 123-4650) inter alia mean that, without making any amendments to the Constitution under the procedure specified therein, the law may not prescribe that the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who departed from the Republic to Lithuania to reside in other states after the restoration of independence of the Republic of Lithuania on 11 March 1990 and acquired citizenship of those states, may be citizens of the Republic of Lithuania and of another state at the same time.
  2. To construe that the provisions: “the merits of the person who requests to be granted citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by way of exception must be such and grounded in such a way, so that it would not cause any doubts as to their presence”, “even in cases when a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person has merits to the Republic of Lithuania and is linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links, is integrated into the Lithuanian society, when one decides whether to grant citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to such a person by way of exception, one must assess all the circumstances characterizing such a person, and one must follow the interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania” of Item 68.2.1 of Chapter III of the reasoning part of the ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania of 13 November 2006 (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2006, No. 123-4650), as well as the following provisions of Item 34.3 of Chapter III of the reasoning part of this ruling: “when construing Paragraph 1 (wording of 16 July 1993) of Article 16 (wording of 3 October 1995) of the Law on Citizenship, the Constitutional Court held that ‘in the sense of the Law on Citizenship, only the activity of the person is to be considered merits to the Republic of Lithuania, when the person very significantly contributes to strengthening of Lithuanian statehood, to the increase of power of Lithuania and its authority in the international community, when it is evident that the person has already been integrated into the Lithuanian society’; that ‘only in such cases there may appear preconditions for consideration and decision whether the citizen of a foreign state or stateless person is with merits to the Republic of Lithuania, as required by the Law on Citizenship’; that ‘while deciding whether the citizen of a foreign state or the stateless person has merits to the Republic of Lithuania, one should, under Paragraph 1 of Article 16 of the Law on Citizenship, assess only the very significant activity to the State of Lithuania itself that it was performed when the person was a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person’ (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 December 2003). Only when the legal regulation established in Article 16 (wording of 16 July 1993) of the Law on Citizenship is construed in this way, it is in line with the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution that with the exception of individual cases provided for by law, no one may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time” may not be construed as meaning that, without making any amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania under the procedure specified therein, the legislator may establish by law the grounds of granting of citizenship by way of exception other than the ground that citizenship may be granted by way of exception to a citizen of foreign state or a stateless person who has special merits to the State of Lithuania, and may establish other conditions that would deny the requirement that a citizen of a foreign state or a stateless person who has special merits to the State of Lithuania must be linked with the State of Lithuania by permanent factual links and must be integrated into the Lithuanian society.

This decision of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania is final and not subject to appeal.

The decision is promulgated in the name of the Republic of Lithuania.

Justices of the Constitutional Court:                        Toma Birmontienė

                                                                                             Pranas Kuconis

                                                                                             Gediminas Mesonis

                                                                                             Ramutė Ruškytė

                                                                                             Egidijus Šileikis

                                                                                             Algirdas Taminskas

                                                                                             Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis

                                                                                             Dainius Žalimas