Tbilisi-based legal advocacy group, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) said in a statement on April 5, that the Civil Registry Agency’s decision to refuse Bidzina Ivanishvili in citizenship through naturalization “is not in line with provisions of the Georgian legislation.”
The Civil Registry Agency of the Ministry of Justice said on April 4, that Ivanishvili was not eligible to obtain Georgian citizenship through naturalization process, which he was requesting since January 5; the agency said, Ivanishvili, as a French national, should instead seek regaining his Georgian passport through dual-citizenship process.
GYLA says in its statement, that one of the major differences between these two options of entering into Georgian citizenship – naturalization and dual-citizenship process, is that while pursuing naturalization procedure an applicant should no longer be a citizen of foreign country at the time of receiving Georgian passport through naturalization.
“If at the time of undergoing naturalization process, an applicant has a foreign citizenship, there should be this applicant’s declared will that in case of entering into the Georgian citizenship, he/she will renounce citizenship of any other country,” GYLA said.
Before applying for citizenship through naturalization, Ivanishvili on December 29, 2011 submitted to the French embassy in Tbilisi a request for launching procedures for his withdrawal from the French citizenship. One of his lawyers, Shalva Tadumadze, said at the time that the move did not mean that Ivanishvili would now become a stateless person; Ivanishvili’s French citizenship would only be revoked in case of gaining the Georgian citizenship, the lawyer said.
“The Civil Registry Agency was aware about [Ivanishvili’s] will that he would have renounced his French citizenship in case of gaining Georgian citizenship. Accordingly, in this particular case, the goal of the law that a person should be only a Georgian citizen after receiving Georgian citizenship through naturalization would have been achieved,” GYLA said.
GYLA also cited the January 30, 2009 presidential order number 39 and a citizenship application form to back its claim that the Civil Registry Agency’s decision was not in accordance to the law. The group said that a citizenship application form contains one line in which an applicant is required to state that in case of granting Georgian citizenship he/she agrees to renounce citizenship of a foreign country and has to indicate that country.
GYLA says this formulation in the application form “unambiguously” shows that an applicant has the right to renounce foreign citizenship only after entering into the Georgian citizenship.
“The goal of the Georgian legislation is that after gaining Georgian citizenship through naturalization, a person should not remain a citizen of any other country. In this particular case, this goal was easily achievable – the Georgian President could have issued a decree on granting Georgian citizenship to a person, which would have been enforced not immediately (to avoid that a person would become a citizen of two countries simultaneously), but only after receiving an official document from the relevant French authorities on satisfying [Ivanishvili’s] application on renouncing French citizenship,” GYLA said.