On October 31, 2019, the Foreign Policy Research Institute with assistance from the Directorate-General for Rendering Services to Diplomatic Missions, held a Round table on the following topic: «Multiple citizenship in the context of national security of Ukraine» at the GDIP Media Center.
The speakers were Hryhorii Perepelytsia, Director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute; Yuriy Kostenko, Member of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (1996-1998), People's Deputy of Ukraine of the I, II, III, IV, VI convocations, Chairman of the Ukrainian People's Party; Oleg Berezyuk, Director of the Institute of Global Policy and Law; Olha Poiedynok, Associate Professor at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Institute of International Relations, Department of International Law; Oksana Markeyeva, Head of the Department of Issues of Security Sector Development of the National Institute for Strategic Studies.
The event began with an introductory remark by Hryhorii Perepelytsia. The director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute noted that the issue of multiple citizenship, along with the potential large-scale offensive of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, poses one of the biggest threats to its national security. The main prerequisites for the adoption of the new law were identified. First of all, this initiative is determined by the liberalization of Ukrainian legislation in accordance with European standards. The arguments put forward in support of this initiative are mainly focused on human rights. However, as the expert noted, almost no one focuses on the duties of a citizen.
Hryhorii Perepelytsia emphasized that multiple citizenship is a soft threat to the national security of Ukraine, which, along with the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and the language issue, is part of Russia's hybrid war against Ukraine. The expert identified the following dangers arising from the possible adoption of a law on multiple citizenship:
1. The rights of foreign citizens may be exercised by criminals or politicians whose activities are directed against the national interests of Ukraine;
2. The emergence of problems with taxation and the diplomatic protection provision;
3. Expansion of foreign interference into the internal affairs of the country;
4. The exercise of suffrage by persons with foreign citizenship may be used by neighboring countries to make territorial claims and to incorporate certain territories of the country in the sphere of their political influence;
5. Multiple citizenship may be used by «economic refugees» (persons seeking refugee status in another country solely for economic reasons and not for reasons of religious, political or other discrimination);
6. The adoption of the law gives a person the right to vote thus setting a precedent when local authorities, and not only local ones, can be used by another state which is hostile to Ukraine;
7. Without amending the constitution, the introduction of multiple citizenship is a gross violation of the Constitution of Ukraine;
8. It provides various opportunities for recruitment of citizens by foreign intelligence services, their subversive activities, evasion of military service, or, conversely, the use of military in the interests of another state. This leads to desertion, defection, subversive activities, and if this applies to a civil servant, it undermines the country's defence capabilities;
9. The emergence and spread of separatism, irredentism and internal conflict;
10. Ultimately, this leads to the erosion of Ukrainian statehood and the imposition of foreign statehood on the territory of Ukraine and its population.
Yuriy Kostenko, member of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (1996 - 1998), people's deputy of Ukraine of five convocations, chairman of the Ukrainian People's Party, noted that after the declaration of independence, it was clear that the introduction of multiple citizenship would allow Russia to reproduce the «Russian world» in Ukraine. Mr. Kostenko categorically denied the advisability of adopting a bill on multiple citizenship and noted more pressing issues affecting the state of national security of the country.
Yuriy Kostenko reminded that the Russian Federation has been waging a hybrid war against Ukraine for many years. In particular, resorting to energy pressure, arranging trade wars, as well as making territorial claims to Ukraine since the presidency of Leonid Kuchma, when Russia tried to seize the island of Tuzla. «But Russia's worst hybrid war against Ukraine was the information one, which constantly affected both the security of the state and the quality of Ukrainian public policy... After all, pro-Russian politicians and political forces used to come to power in Ukraine as a result of Russia's informational influence». Based on his own experience and delving into the historical aspects of Russian-Ukrainian relations, Yuriy Kostenko concluded that adopting the bill № 6368 on multiple citizenship, the current leadership neglects Ukrainian statehood and stressed the priority of economic development, which should generate additional resources to be used to ensure the national security of Ukraine.
Oleg Berezyuk, director of the Institute of Global Policy and Law, supported the opinion of his colleagues about the dangers of the initiative to introduce multiple citizenship and described it as part of a hybrid war. Mr. Berezyuk gave an example of one of his former apprentices, a Ukrainian who is now the commander of one of the Airborne brigades of the Russian Federation and asked a rhetorical question: «What will happen if such a person has dual citizenship»? Oleg Berezyuk considered the complexity of the issue of multiple citizenship in the context of the existing international system and noted the collisions that constantly arise in legal practice in this regard, in the field of public and private law. «Multiple citizenship brings chaos, destabilizes socio-political relations and calls into question the existence of the institution of the state as such... We must be very careful about the adoption of certain laws, because the law can regulate public relations, but it can also introduce an imbalance, the expert emphasized. In addition, Oleg Berezyuk stated that the proposed bill has no legal logic to regulate the relations it aims to regulate. «If this law is introduced, it will be done solely for one purpose - to destabilize the situation inside the country», - the expert stated.
Olha Poiedynok, Associate Professor of International Law at the Institute of International Relations of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, focused on the lack of clearly defined wording in the Law on Citizenship of Ukraine. In continuation, Ms. Poiedynok stressed that the bill, which in fact proposes a new version of the law «On Citizenship of Ukraine», is designed to reduce the number of safeguards of multiple citizenship in the current legislation. At the same time, according to the expert, the President of Ukraine is trying to balance bill No. 6368 with other legislative acts. There are five of them in total, for example, bill No. 6369 proposes a ban on dual nationals from holding a wide range of positions and engaging in certain types of activities, and No. 6372 provides for legal liability for not declaring foreign citizenship.
Ms. Olha has discussed in detail the legal aspects and possible consequences of adopting safeguard bills that may contradict Ukraine's international legal obligations. As an example, the French bill «On the Defense of the Nation» was cited. Following the review of the bill, the Venice Commission concluded that the state can decide on citizenship, this is part of its sovereign rights and powers, but the state is limited by its obligations under international law. According to Olha Poiedynok, the European Convention on Nationality, to which Ukraine is a party, contains Article 17, which actually equates the rights of dual nationals with other citizens who have a single citizenship. The problem of citizens who received a Russian passport in the temporarily occupied territories was also highlighted.
The moderator of the round table Hryhorii Perepelytsia continued the discussion of international legal aspects. According to the director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Ukraine is in a radically different situation comparing to the European Union member states and therefore cannot fully rely on the conclusions of the Venice Commission and the European Court of Human Rights. He recalled the decision of the European Court of Human Rights on the former mayor of Slavyansk Nelya Shtepa, who was detained on July 11, 2014 on charges of encroachment on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine. According to the court's decision, the collaborator received 3,600 euros in compensation for the violation of her right to liberty. Hryhorii Perepelytsia stated that such conflicts could be eliminated by imposing martial law on the territory of Ukraine, as the state has been at war for eight years, however, it continues to live according to the laws of peacetime. «We have encountered such collisions not only in the issue of citizenship, but also in our media space, when supporters of the «Russian world» are free to broadcast hostile propaganda on our Ukrainian TV channels, and the editors say that these are alternative views». In this case, if martial law is not imposed, it is necessary to have protective functions, fuses – the expert concluded.
Oksana Markeyeva, Head of the Department of Issues of Security Sector Development of the National Institute for Strategic Studies, in her report developed the topic of the security component of the issue of multiple citizenship. The expert noted that in contrast to the situation in Europe, Ukraine is in a threatening security environment: «Russian citizenship, along with Ukrainian, have, according to some estimates, from 350 thousand up to 2.5 million Ukrainians. Most of them live in the Crimea and Donbas. The citizenship of the Russian Federation is a destabilizing factor and a permanent threat, as the Russian Federation uses the already proven tactics of «protecting its own citizens» as a pretext for military aggression. The increase in the issuance of Hungarian and Romanian passports in the Transcarpathian and Chernivtsi regions also poses a threat.
In the conditions of a hybrid war, according to Oksana Markeyeva, multiple citizenship cannot be legalized unconditionally, as it will have negative consequences, such as: erosion of the nation's unity in the face of aggression; weakening the influence of the state on the citizen; provoking international conflicts and exacerbating existing ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious contradictions. Therefore, in determining the state policy in this area, Ukraine must proceed solely from its national interests and ensure a quality state of national security by forming national unity in conditions of aggression. The expert stated: «This is achieved through strengthening the legal relationship between the state and the individual, legal certainty, eliminating inconsistencies/contradictions between the rights and responsibilities of a citizen of Ukraine and the rights and responsibilities of a citizen and a foreign state. This goal requires the implementation of state policy of prevention of multiple citizenship cases and the declaration of this principle in law. The expert of the National Institute for Strategic Studies also stressed the urgency of formulation of a clear definition of the legal position of the state regarding the citizens right to multiple citizenships in the Constitution and laws of Ukraine and suggested allowing the multiple citizenship in exceptional cases, on the basis of bilateral agreements, as well as for patriotic representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora.
Representatives of Embassies of Libya, the Republic of Finland, Egypt, the Republic of Sudan, Vietnam, France, Uzbekistan, representatives of international organizations, domestic diplomats, experts, students, lawyers, journalists and scientists joined the Round table. The meeting ended with questions and comments from the audience.