Parliament should approve non-Lithuanian names on passports now, says PM

Algirdas Butkevičius
DELFI / Karolina Pansevič

“The name spelling issue should be settled in spring. I was very unhappy with it at the end of last year and I told the coalition partners that procrastination and failure to do anything about it did nothing to bridge the gap,” Butkevičius told the Znad Wilii radio on Wednesday.

Name spelling has been a divisive issue in relations between the country’s Lithuanian-speaking population and its ethnic minorities, particularly Polish-speakers.

Existing regulations on entries in passports and ID cards have non-Lithuanian names transcribed in the Lithuanian alphabet which does not have characters like “W”, “X” or “Q”.

The demand to allow original spelling of non-Lithuanian names, primarily raised by Lithuania’s Polish-speaking community, has been a factor in relations with Poland, too.

“In our political group [of the Social Democratic Party], we have made a decision to collect signatures [of MPs] in March to have the bill included into the parliament’s agenda,” Butkevičius said. “The parliament speaker has, for some reason, refused to put it on the agenda. The responsibility for this lies with the entire coalition and I will take that responsibility.”

The Social Democratic Party has drafted a bill that, if passed, would allow original Latin-based spelling of names in passports and ID documents.

An alternative bill, submitted by a citizens’ initiative, suggests allowing additional entries with original name spelling, but leaving the transcribed versions on the main page of one’s passport or the face side of the ID card.

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