- March 21, 2013
Last name in Polish only after marrying a Pole?
A new bill on national minorities will be discussed by the Parliament of Lithuania in May. Meanwhile, the President of the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language, Daiva Vaišnienė, stated that Lithuanian citizens who are married to foreigners and their children should be allowed to write their last names in the documents in the original form.
“We understand that women who entered into marriage with foreigners can not take the names of their husbands and their children can not use the fathers’ names. It should be determined what is the possibility of changing this situation” – said the President of the National Committee of the Polish Language, Daiva Vaišnienė.
D. Vaišnienė reminded the statement of the Constitutional Court that in the official documents it is prohibited to use symbols other than the ones in Lithuanian language but – in her opinion – the Constitutional Court did not comment on the cases where the original documents have non-Lithuanian record. The expert in the Lithuanian language indicated that the commission would not oppose such a practice.
The chairman of the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language recalled that “the Constitutional Court agreed on a possibility of free record on the second page and other pages of official documents”. “I think it would not offend the state language” – she added.
The Minister of Justice of Lithuania, Juozas Bernatonis, announced on March 20th that the government of Lithuania has appointed a working group, which will prepare a draft on spelling of non-Lithuanian names, including Polish, in Lithuanian passports.
The Minister admitted, however, that from the point of view of the law this would not be an easy task, because the Constitutional Court had ruled previously that the first and the last name in the passport must be written in the state language, which is Lithuanian.
”In legal terms, this is a complex issue” – said the Minister Juozas Bernatonis to the journalists but he emphasized that “a solution that does not violate the Constitution must be found”.
At the beginning of March, a government working group for solving problems of national minorities, appointed by the Prime Minister of Lithuania Algirdas Butkevičius, presented the conclusions, according to which the spelling of non-Lithuanian names in Lithuania should be legalized in its original form, as well as bilingual street names in towns densely inhabited by national minorities.
According to the Lithuanian Deputy Minister of Culture, Edward Trusewicz, who chaired the working group, a draft on national minorities, defining the use of the minority language, will be discussed by the Parliament of Lithuania in May and a draft on names spelling – in the autumn.
The Deputy Trusewicz does not rule out that after accepting the Act on names spelling, the Lithuanian parliament would ask the Constitutional Court whether the law is in conformity with the constitution.
In 1999, the Constitutional Court ruled that the first and last name in the Lithuanian passport should be written in the state language, which is Lithuanian but – as E. Trusewicz emphasizes – the realities have changed. “The issue of the legalization of the record of non-Lithuanian names in its original form is no longer a problem of Poles in Lithuania” – indicates the Deputy Minister of Culture. He points out that more and more citizens of Lithuania enter into marriage with foreigners, and have problems with writing their new names in Lithuanian documents.
Tłumaczenie Agnieszka Wiecheć w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Agnieszka Wiecheć within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.