"Starting from August 15 of this year, the President can grant Polish citizenship to all foreigners regardless of fact whether they lived or how long they lived in Poland," the Polish Internal Ministry reported noting that previously the head of state granted citizenship only in "exceptional cases."
Ukrainians, obtaining Polish citizenship, will have to deny the Ukrainian one, the Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Dikusarov said, commenting on the law.
"Citizens of Ukraine should be aware that dual citizenship is prohibited in Ukraine. The new law adopted in Poland creates certain prerequisites to obtaining Polish citizenship by Ukrainians. If a Ukrainian receives citizenship of another country, without abandoning the Ukrainian, in that case he is considered to be a citizen of Ukraine only, according to the Ukrainian legislation," he said.
Dikusarov noted that obtaining Polish citizenship, Ukrainians may face some conflict in the field of international law. "There are certain collisions and this question should be settled by lawyers," the representative of the Foreign Ministry said.
He explained that if a person with dual Ukrainian-Polish citizenship commits a crime or offense, he will fall under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian law in Ukraine and under the Polish legislation in Poland.
However, it is a well-known fact that some our fellow citizens have dual citizenship: apart from Ukrainian, they have Hungarian, Russian, Israeli and others. ForUm has asked experts and politicians why it happens and what risks it brings for our country.
Volodymyr Ohryzko, former foreign minister of Ukraine:
- The issue on dual citizenship is a sovereign right of every country. For Ukraine, such practice is inexpedient, as it threatens our national identity and state integrity and may cause serious political consequences.
For Poland, this is not a problem, as Poland is a strong member of democratic legal structures, like the EU and NATO. Poland does not face external pressure and humanitarian wars from the "Russian world". Though we are neighbors, we live in different geopolitical worlds. What is good for Poland is bad for Ukraine.
Due to historical and economic factors, Ukrainians have privileges in Poland's legal system. Poland faces demographic crisis and lacks labor force. Dual citizenship is one of the ways to attract this force in the country. Poland applies forward thinking approach - future citizens of Poland must have lived on its territory for some years, must speak the language and must be integrated in the society. Poland does not need any people, who may cause problems.
Polish authorities are solving domestic problems. But for us the issue of dual citizens should not be on the table, as it is a threat to national security.
Oleh Zarubinski, chairman of the parliamentary committee on human rights, national minorities and interethnic relations:
- Whatever country announces dual citizenship, the Constitution of Ukraine clearly prohibits it. Neither Poland nor Papua New Guinea can change this.
Ukraine must stick to the single-citizenship policy at least for the next several years. For us, single citizenship is a constructive principle. Dual citizenship is not about the desire to stop being the citizen of Ukraine, but to have an easy access to other country. This issue should not be even under discussion. A citizen of Ukraine must remain the citizen of Ukraine. However, the state must work on simplification of travel for its citizens, so that Ukrainian can go around without complications.
Taras Chornovil, MP of Ukraine, first deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs:
- The law on dual citizenship in Poland was not a surprise, as talks about it started long time ago. I believe it poses no threat to Ukraine. However, in order not to provoke internal conflict in Ukraine, Poland could have followed the practice of Germany, which introduced dual citizenship only for citizens of those countries, where dual citizenship is legal. Ukrainian Constitution does not recognize dual citizenship, but still there is no direct prohibition and punishment for violation.
Anyway, this law concerns only those Ukrainian, who have permanent residence in Poland, a job and sufficient financial security, which meet the standards of the EU. There are 18 thousand Ukrainians meeting these criteria and they had had the right for citizenship long before this law came into force. These are mostly people from mixed families. Hence, I believe the law does not bring drastic changes to Ukraine.
Volodymyr Kornilov, political scientist, director of Ukrainian branch of CIS Institute:
Poland's neighbors have certain preferences in obtaining its citizenship. Ukraine must get used to the idea that dual citizenship becomes a world tendency. Russia, Romania and Poland are already practicing it.
Ukraine should understand it does not have a way out. Dual citizenship should be adopted, but at the same time, the government should encourage the desire to keep Ukrainian citizenship. The current policy results into Ukraine's population outflow.
Kost' Bondarenko, president of the Institute of Ukrainian politics:
- Tendency towards adoption of dual or multi citizenship exists in many world countries. Moreover, single-citizenship policy becomes a rudiment, which will die off eventually. I believe it will become inessential to Ukraine as well.
However, for the moment, the prohibition remains in force for the sake of territorial integrity and strengthening of national bases. Besides, this prohibition is only on the paper, as MPs and businessmen have dual citizenship or permanent residences in other countries, and the law turns the blind eye to this.
Anatoly Selivanov, permanent representative of the Verkhovna Rada in the Constitution Court of Ukraine:
- Poland, of course, can issue its passports to Ukrainians in violation of Ukrainian legislation. However, those who will get second or third passport will become offenders. Our citizens should remember that Ukraine's Constitution does not allow dual citizenship.
One more thing. If Ukrainian authorities learn that this or that citizen of Ukraine is getting Polish passports, law enforcements will summon this person and force him to make a choice. This person may not be allowed to vote in the future as well.
Iryna Bekeshkina, sociologist, director of the "Democratic initiatives" fund:
- Ukrainians will not have to choose between Ukrainian and Polish citizenship. People living near the borders with other countries already have other citizenships - Hungarian, Romanian, Russian. Nobody makes a choice; they just take the second passport and keep silence. Hence, the Polish law on dual citizenship will not change anything for Ukraine and its citizens.
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