Descendants of Slovak migrants eye citizenship, see opportunity in a now-debated amendment

Constitutional lawyers warn against too loose of an approach to granting citizenship to non-residents.

(Source: TASR)

Many of the people who have lost their Slovak passport due to the citizenship law that was amended amid a Slovak-Hungarian controversy in 2010 should be able to get it back without much complication. Descendants of Slovaks living abroad see a window of opportunity in the legislative process. They have been pushing to erase the residency requirement from the law, the main obstacle they now see in their access to Slovak citizenship.

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Their efforts open the more fundamental question of whether Slovakia should be more liberal in granting state citizenship to people who have never held it before and who do not actually live in the country. The answer that the parliament is about to give is - no.

Under the current law, anyone seeking Slovak citizenship needs to reside at least eight years in Slovakia continuously, among other conditions. People with Slovak ancestry who hold the Slovak Living Abroad certificate only need to legally reside in Slovakia for three years before they can obtain citizenship. The requirement of a two-year residence applies to people who had at least one parent who was a Czechoslovak citizen at the time they were born.

“It’s not necessary to create additional barriers and make people choose their national alliance,“ Zuzana Palovic told The Slovak Spectator. “You can be Slovak no matter where you are, and the Slovak family does not have to be divided by artificial lines, land or water.”

Palovic is behind the One Slovak Family initiative actively embracing those who live outside of Slovakia who want to reconnect with their Slovak ancestry. They are campaigning to change the residency requirement of the citizenship law by reaching out to MPs, the president of the Office for Slovaks Living Abroad, and PM Igor Matovič. They have sent him over 120 e-mails requesting a change in the residency requirement, she said.

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Residency condition sticks

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