Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 111

Armenia´s National Assembly adopted October 10 a new citizenship law which precludes dual citizenship. The law affects primarily diaspora Armenians who were until now able to enjoy the rights of Armenian citizenship without renouncing the citizenship of their adoptive country. Under the new law, dual citizenship holders may opt for either citizenship, and new applicants must give up their existing citizenship for that of Armenia. The president of Armenia is empowered to suspend any individual´s Armenian citizenship by decree. Slightly softening the impact on the diaspora, the law stipulates that any child born to holders of Armenian citizenship is considered an Armenian citizen irrespective of birthplace–a measure also apparently intended to facilitate repatriation of Armenians from former Soviet republics. Armenian refugees on Armenian territory, approximately 200,000 in number and mainly from Azerbaijan, are automatically eligible but must apply individually for Armenian citizenship. (12)

This law supersedes the previous citizenship law which had permitted diaspora Armenians to acquire Armenian citizenship without losing that of their adoptive country, and made it possible for Armenian emigrants to retain Armenian citizenship after acquiring that of another country. The new law brings the dispensation in accord with Armenia´s new constitution, adopted by referendum in July, which does not provide for dual citizenship. The opposition National Democratic Union and other groups linked with the Armenian diaspora have criticized the new law as a barrier between Armenians in the country and in the world. The measure is likely to add a contentious element to the relations between president Levon Ter-Petrosian´s government and the diaspora, already strained over the government´s pressures upon the Armenian Revolutionary Federation/Dashnaksutyun party.

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