Armenian Dual Citizenship Made Easy!
Lately Yerevan is abuzz with the issue of dual citizenship and all of its many alleged complications. But, dual citizenship does not have to be difficult, and dual citizenship in Armenia can be easier than most people think.
First, what is dual citizenship? Dual citizenship exists by default when two or more states just happen to recognize the same individual as their own citizen. For example, if I am a citizen of the U.S., the U.S. will continue to recognize me as such so long as I do not formally renounce my U.S. citizenship before a competent U.S. authority. My relationship with the U.S. does not change just because I also become an Armenian citizen, because the U.S. is under no obligation to recognize what Armenia chooses to do. In the realm of public international law, every state is sovereign and of equal authority. This means that the U.S. cannot stop Armenia from considering me its citizen, too - should Armenia choose to do so. Of course, this works the other way around, too. Armenia can consider its citizens to always be Armenian citizens, and choose not to recognize what status other states may bestow on its citizens, because - after all - Armenia is sovereign state, too. In other words, what Armenia wants, Armenia gets . . . inside its territory.
So, how does dual citizenship work in a practical sense? If I am a citizen of the U.S. and a citizen of Armenia , then when I enter or exit the U.S. I show my U.S. passport (because for that sovereign I am their citizen) and when I enter or exit Armenia , I show my Armenian passport (because an Armenian citizen is who I am here). This simple formula currently works all over the world for a multitude of states and their multiple citizens. In fact, its more likely than not that this framework is already in play for a number of Armenian citizens who have acquired a second citizenship elsewhere, unbeknownst to Armenian authorities.
So, how do we make the law conform to reality? It can be quite easy. We don't need to write a new law; all we need to do is edit the laws Armenia already has. As we see below, deleting a few lines here and there and adding a few words now and then produces a straightforward legal framework that allows for Armenian "dual citizenship" to exist, immediately:
The R.A. Constitution :
• The Armenian Constitution does not prohibit dual citizenship anymore. The inverse is that, hey . . . it can happen. That's all we need. (Despite the constitutional reference to regulation of dual citizenship by law, Armenia cannot regulate "dual citizenship" - nor can any other state - because "dual citizenship" exists de facto in the international plane beyond the reach of any state's national legislation; Armenia can only regulate "citizenship" - its citizenship.)
Law of the Republic of Armenia on Citizenship of the Republic of Armenia (see the attached law with proposed editing)
• Next . . . from Article 1 of the Armenian Citizenship law (general citizenship provision), delete the one sentence that prohibits an Armenian citizen from simultaneously holding citizenship of another state.
• From Article 10 ("recognition of citizenship"), delete the last phrase of each subparagraph that prohibits recognition if the individual has obtained another citizenship. (Regulations can create an application process later).
• From Article 14 ("restoration of citizenship"), delete the last phrase that prohibits "restoration" of Armenian citizenship to one who was formerly "deprived" of it.
• From Article 23 ("cessation of citizenship"), delete both :
• Subsection 1 about changing citizenship as a basis of cessation
• Subsection 4 (cessation due to some other article in this law)
• From Article 24 ("changing citizenship") delete the first sentence and move the last sentence to the very end of Article 25 regarding "loss of citizenship".
• From Article 25 ("loss of citizenship"), delete subsection 3 and replace it with something about a citizen being able to renounce citizenship - maybe something like: "The citizenship of the RA may be considered lost: 3) if under oath an individual renounces RA citizenship before a consular or OVIR official."
• Amend Article 2 of the Electoral Code to reflect that citizens residing in Armenia for, say . . . two years (or whatever length of time seems reasonable to make citizens stakeholders in local politics) before any given election, and present in Armenia on election day, have the right to vote and to be elected. (After all, it's only fair that those who live in the country and experience the consequences of republican governance should be the ones voting and running for election. Conversely, those who remain outside the country for a significant amount of time easily lose touch with the daily realities that government needs to address. The simple scheme of resident voting - and office holding - is a straightforward and easy way to protect the participatory rights of those who most directly experience the election results.)
On Tax and Military Service
There is no need to change anything here at the moment. Taxation is based on length of residence. It's not an issue of citizenship, so let's not make it one. Also, Armenia already has a number of treaties regulating double taxation and double military service. For those dual citizens not covered by these, generally, the domestic law has principles to avoid or resolve conflicting demands on dual citizens. Potential conflicts can be reduced further as the need arises through amendments to the domestic laws or treaties - not as a pre-requisite to dual citizenship, but as the result of actual needs and experience of dual citizens. There is no need to over-legislate now by trying to solve problems that do not yet exist, and may never exist.
Also, diasporan Armenians who find Armenian military service unappealing can apply for special residency status as an alternative to citizenship. Special residency status is as close as one can get to citizenship - just minus the right to vote and to be elected.
Now all the legal redrafting is done!
Notice how most of the work was merely deleting restrictive measures from the citizenship law. A process for becoming a citizen already exists, and this is all we need. Here is the Armenian law on becoming a citizen as it already exists:
Article 13 of the Armenian Citizenship law states that you can apply for citizenship if you have resided here for 3 years, are proficient in Armenian (meaning you don't even have to be fluent), and are familiar with the RA Constitution - so make sure you download a copy from the Internet. These standards are easy to meet compared to those required by most other countries, including the U.S. But, guess what . . . it's even easier for a diasporan to become a citizen. Article 13 also states that if you are of Armenian origin than you are exempted from the residency requirement. Well, in that case, the only diasporan prerequisites are proficiency in Armenian and being familiar with the RA Constitution.
How much easier can it all be? The only other thing left to do is to put the application on the government's web site. The time for debate has long ended. Let's just get out the red pen, take care of this, and then move on to more important stuff - like building a nation.http://www.armlawrev...citizenship.htm