Regulations for the writing of foreign words have been a point of contention in Seimas for some two decades now. Not just the Poles, but also other minorities, have grievances due to it, as well as women married to foreigners and children born in such marriages.
And now a piece of legislation is present in Seimas drawers, with which all Latin characters would be permitted for official use. LRT.lt announced.
Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, who entered Seimas with the Farmer and Greens, supports the initiative, meanwhile Farmer and Greens Seimas group member Eugenijus Jovaiša is opposed.
The Seimas Speaker, who also entered Seimas with the Farmer Greens, suggested to continue discussions, thus it becomes curious, what the Farmer and Greens’ leader thinks of the matter.
Ramūnas Karbauskis has not been picking up his phone since the middle of the week, the group has explained that he is unwilling to interact with the media until Monday.
As for why because “he is reviewing the government plan in depth”.
Already during the inter war era, in 1938, President Antanas Smetona signed a law which permitted Lithuanian passports to have names written in non-Lithuanian characters.
The Supreme Council of independent Lithuania passed a ruling in 1991 which directed that names in Lithuanian citizen’s passports should be written in Lithuanian, while names of those who have had a foreign state’s citizenship were permitted to be written based on the foreign country’s passport or respective document.
In 1999 however, the Constitutional Court ruled that “… an individual’s first name and surname have to be written in the national language. Otherwise the constitutional status of the national language will be denied.”
With this conclusion the Constitutional Court specified that Lithuanian passports should no longer contain any foreign characters.
Due to this Lithuanian women with foreign spouses and their children often end up in difficult situations when abroad – Lithuanian passports contain differing surname spelling than those of their spouse’s.
Due to this Lithuanian courts have been burdened with tens of lawsuits.
This week the Supreme Administrative Court reviewed the claim of French citizen Romanas Goreckis-Mickevičius.
The great-grandchild of the Lithuanian and Polish poet Adomas Mickevičius has demanded the courts to rule to allow his Lithuanian born daughter Alexia, who is a citizen of both Lithuania and France, would have her original name and surname in her Lithuanian passport.
The forced first name change distances Alexia from her homeland, obstructs self-perception and causes difficulties abroad.
“If I am in France or Austria and show my daughter’s passport, they do not believe it is my daughter. The administration in other countries requests to show her birth certificate, which has the letters x and w – this is an Italian comedy,” R. Gorecki-Mickievicz said.
An analogous case was reviewed in court the previous day as well – a Frenchman and Lithuanian woman requested their son to be issued a new passport which would contain his original surname.
When he was born, both his Lithuanian and French passport contained his surname with the letter “q”.
The court charged the Migration Board to issue passports where the juveniles’ first names and surnames would be entered with Lithuanian lettering in the main page of the passport, with their original names in the “further entries” page.
“Such is the legislation, the court cannot manufacture legislation which clashes with that already in place,” said Arūnas Dirvonas.
However the “further entries” page which contains the non-Lithuanian spelling of the first name and surname, cannot be seen as equivalent to the Lithuanian entry. Furthermore no legislation specifies which page of the passport has to contain the original name variant. The individual identity cards do not even have a space for such entries.
Known historian, professor Nerijus Šepetys points out that the issues with name writing should primarily be resolved in our heads.
“Nowadays in the modern world, for the past 200 years, when all sorts of serfdom has been abolished and people have obtained rights, one of those rights is to have and carry a name. And not just write it on their gravestone – this is not regulated at all, no-one demands to write on the reverse side of the gravestone,” dr. N. Šepetys said.
Professor Antanas Smetona says that the three letters, which politicians keep struggling to come to terms about, cannot harm the Lithuanian language.
The history of contemporary lettering is nearing 120 years of age, since Vincas Kudirka released the first language textbook “Statrašos ramsčiai”.
“There we would find that the first sentence states that Lithuanian writing can be written in two types of letters – one for is letters for Lithuanian texts, including the letters with ogoneks and such. Plus a postscript with another six letters which are used to write foreign words. We open the contemporary Lithuanian language grammar. It states that the Lithuanian alphabet is made up of 32 symbols. And then a footnote – foreign names, more precisely even foreign words, particularly naming nouns you may use the letters q,x, w,” says dr. Smetona.
The Constitutional Court reviewed legislation related to writing foreign words in 2014 and announced that in specifying the regulation of name writing in a Lithuanian passport, the legislator has to obtain official recommendations from the State Lithuanian Language Commission. It provided the Seimas with its conclusions.
“If a citizen has been the citizen of a foreign country and has a valid personal identification document issued by that foreign country, it would be possible to write their name in Latin lettering as per the original document. This can also be applied when the surname is obtained on marriage or when a child’s surname is inherited from their parents,” explained the State Lithuanian Language Commission Chairwoman Daiva Vaišnienė.
The Skvernelis cabinet has identified in its action plan that normalising relations with Poland is one of its key priorities.
However the Seimas Speaker is unsure whether this question will be on the Seimas spring session agenda.
“The Seimas is currently planning to discuss this problem. It should be resolved so that oru citizens could be happier, writing their surnames in the correct way,” Seimas Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis said.
Meanwhile Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union Seimas group member, academic Eugenijus Jovaiša represents the initiative group “Gathering: For the Lithuanian national language”.
This group of public figures has gathered 50 thousand signatures and prepared a legislative project which proposes to move names in non-Lithuanian lettering to the further entries chapter in passports and the back side of the personal identification card.