Lithuanian parliament puts off national minority bill and will consider name spelling in autumn

Seimas of Lithuania
DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

An adjournment in the discussion was requested by the opposition Conservatives.

Lithuania’s ruling parties have repeatedly pledged support to the bill initiated by their coalition partner, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania. However, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius said at a meeting with the Conservatives earlier on Tuesday that bilingual street and location signs will not be allowed in the law.

The bill initiated by EAPL MP Jaroslav Narkevič suggests reinstating the version of the law that was in effect in the early years of Lithuania’s independence. Under the bill, state institutions and organizations in areas with large populations of national minorities would allow the use of a national minority language along with the state Lithuanian language, with signs in the language of a national minority allowed next to Lithuanian-language signs.

Meanwhile, two alternative draft laws on name-spelling were approved for discussion on Tuesday and will be reopened in the fall session. The parliament also asked for a conclusion from the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language in connection to the bills.

After the presentation, the project of social democrat Ierna Šiaulienė was voted in favour by 57 members of Parliament, 32 voted against with 12 abstained.

Some MPs said the law would assist Lithuanian women who are married to foreigners as they face practical problems. Whereas opponents claimed this was an attack on the state language, the Constitution and sovereignty.

Lithuanian social democratic MPs Gediminas Kirkilas and Irena Šiaulienė had registered a draft law on spelling of first names and surnames in documents. It establishes a principle of writing names and surnames in Lithuanian characters, it also provides for the possibility to write names and surnames in documents in other Latin-based characters.

Meanwhile, deputy leader of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) parliamentary group Valentinas Stundys had registered an alternative draft law, which provides for original spelling of names and surnames in other pages of one’s passport, but not in the main entry.

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