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On 3 April 2014, the Organic Law of Georgia on Citizenship of Georgia was discussed at the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia. The First Deputy Minister of Justice, Aleksandre Baramidze, declared:  “According to the current [Organic] Law [of Georgia on Citizenship of Georgia], in order to obtain Georgian citizenship, a person first had to submit a document confirming that he or she was not a citizen of any other country. This provision practically revoked a person’s citizenship and contradicted the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness of 1961.”

FactCheck

looked deeper into this question and verified Baramidze’s statement.

The aforementioned draft bill was adopted by the Parliament of Georgia with a third hearing on 2 May. The Organic Law of Georgia on Citizenship of Georgia (as for 6 September 2013) provides for the protection of the rights of citizens of Georgia both within the country and abroad in accordance with international law and Georgian legislation. According to the law, Georgian citizenship may be acquired:  a) at birth, b) by naturalisation and c) upon the basis of other grounds provided for by international treaties to which Georgia is a party as well as the Organic Law of Georgia on Citizenship of Georgia (Article 10). In its research, FactCheck

inquired only about the acquisition of citizenship since this was the main issue about which the First Deputy Minister spoke.

Based upon the Organic Law, Georgian citizenship may be granted to a person of legal age if he/she meets the following requirements:

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a) Has been permanently residing within the territory of Georgia during the last five years,

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b) Knows the state language within the established limits,

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c) Knows the history and legislation of Georgia within the established limits and

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d) Has a job or any real estate in Georgia or is engaged in entrepreneurial activities on the territory of Georgia or has shares in an enterprise in Georgia (Article 26).

The procedure of the acquisition of citizenship itself is regulated based upon Decree No. 34 of the President of Georgia on Approval of Provision on Review Procedures of Application for Georgian Citizenship (2009). Neither the Organic Law nor the abovementioned decree directly requires the renouncing of existing citizenship by a person when applying for Georgian citizenship. Decree No. 34 provides a list of the required documents for application (Article 22); in addition, its Appendix No. 1 contains a template for the application letter with the following wording:  “Provided my request is satisfied, I confirm my readiness to renounce my (of a concrete country) citizenship.”

Consequently, there is no obvious requirement in both the Organic Law and the President’s Decree for a person to give up his/her citizenship before being granted the Georgian citizenship. Based upon the template from Appendix No. 1 of the abovementioned decree, a person is required to renounce his/her citizenship only after his/her application for Georgian citizenship has been satisfied.

The draft bill about granting Georgian citizenship submitted to the Parliament of Georgia sets the same standards as described above (Article 12). However, there is a note according to which:  “A foreign citizen can apply to a respective authority for acquiring Georgian citizenship. The Decree of the President of Georgia about Granting Georgian Citizenship, countersigned by the Prime Minister of Georgia, is enacted upon the reception of the confirmation document by the respective authorities of Georgia about the renouncing of the foreign citizenship by the applicant” (Article 15).

As was clarified from all of the aforementioned, different from the previous edition, the new Organic Law of Georgia on Georgian Citizenship directly indicates the renouncing of a foreign citizenship first and then the granting of Georgian citizenship only thereafter. The explanatory note also mentions that:  “The current law does not clearly indicate the possibility of granting Georgian citizenship to a foreign citizen. The draft bill clearly defines the possibility of granting Georgian citizenship to a foreign citizen.” Therefore, the Decree of the President of Georgia about Granting Georgian Citizenship will be enacted only after the applicant submits a document about renouncing foreign citizenship.

In his statement Aleksandre Baramidze mentioned the UN 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and declared that the old edition of the Georgian law contradicted the abovementioned Convention. The Parliament of Georgia ratified the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, dated 30 August 1961, on 2 April 2014. According to the Convention:  “A national of a Contracting State who seeks naturalisation in a foreign country shall not lose his nationality unless he acquires or has been accorded assurance of acquiring the nationality of that foreign country” (Paragraph 2, Article 7).

Conclusion

The verification of Aleksandre Baramidze’s statement revealed that the old edition of the Organic Law of Georgia on Georgian Citizenship did not directly require a person seeking Georgian citizenship to renounce his/her own nationality before he/she was granted Georgian citizenship. Therefore, Baramidze’s statement about the clearly set procedures about citizenship in the old edition of the law is not true.

Nevertheless, of note is the fact that according to the Decree of the President of Georgia about Acquiring Georgian Citizenship, a foreign citizen had to give up his/her own citizenship only after he/she received Georgian citizenship. The appendix of the abovementioned decree indicates that the context of Aleksandre Baramidze’s statement is inaccurate as it neglects the existence of the abovementioned decree at all. Therefore, the assertion that a person had to give up his/her citizenship in order to get Georgian citizenship is also inaccurate.

The Deputy Minister of Justice also admitted that the existing regulations contradicted the UN 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. If the Organic Law is discussed separately, then it can be asserted that it is not meeting the requirements of the UN Convention and, thus, the new edition of the law is clearer in these terms. However, if the old edition of the abovementioned law is discussed together with the respective decree of the President of Georgia, then it becomes obvious that a person is required to give up his/her citizenship only after he/she is granted Georgian citizenship. Therefore, it can be concluded that overall, the existing procedure of acquiring Georgian citizenship did not in fact contradict the UN Convention and, thus, this part of Baramidze’s statement can also be regarded as inaccurate.

Based upon all of the aforementioned, FactCheck concludes that Aleksandre Baramidze’s statement: “According to the current [Organic] Law [of Georgia on Georgian Citizenship], in order to obtain Georgian citizenship, a person first had to submit a document confirming that he or she was not a citizen of any other country. This provision practically revoked a person’s citizenship and contradicted the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness of 1961,” is MOSTLY FALSE.