Seimas votes against original foreign surnames in passports again

Pranešk apie klaidą

Lithuanian Parliament voted on Thursday not to discuss the law which would allow writing surnames in Latin characters instead of translating them into the Lithuanian equivalent.

Another amendment, suggesting recording the original surname in a separate page of the passport, was passed for further debates. The current project of this amendment states that such entry would have no juridical power.

The law concerns the spelling of names. Characters such as “w” or “x” do not exist in the Lithuanian alphabet, meaning that a name like Edward, would be spelled “Edvard” on a Lithuanian document.

Only 30 parliamentarians voted in favour of the first version of the amendment, the rest stood against it or abstained.

The amendment, presented to Seimas by prime minister Andrius Kubilius, was evaluated negatively even by most of his conservative party colleagues, including Seimas speaker Irena Degutiene and the foreign affairs minister Audronius Azubalis.

“I see a decision, connected to ruining the country, in this suggestion. Will this strengthen our country, what will be the consequences in a long-term future, in 20 years, what nation will we have, will Lithuanian language still exist?” said Labour party member Mecislovas Zasciurinskas.

“Is Lithuania really that weak, and is its language that weak, that allowing a person to enter his name and surname into a passport the way the God gave it to him, we will destroy the language? What are we talking about?” Kubilius retorted.

Kubilius did not deny that such a law is much wanted in Lithuanian Polish minority.

“If you‘re asking about the opinion of Vilnius region Poles, which are of Polish origin – they say that they want to write their surnames the same way that their parents and grandparents used to. This request has its meaning and logic, I do not understand, why can‘t we hear it. When Lithuanians asked for the same in Poland, their voice was heard,” said Kubilius.

He stated that if the original surname will be written in a separate page of the passport, people will face problems in foreign countries and will need supplementary papers to prove that the entry is legal.

Lithuania has been debating the possibility of writing the original language names and surnames in the passports for years already.

Thursday‘s debate in Seimas coincided with the visit of the Polish president Lech Kaczynski, who is meeting Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite today.

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