Offspring of expatriates may get Czech citizenship more easily |

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Offspring of expatriates may get Czech citizenship more easily

Offspring of expatriates may get Czech citizenship more easily

Children and grandchildren of Czech expatriates who emigrated from the former Czechoslovakia will be able to get Czech citizenship more easily under a new law that President Milos Zeman signed today.

The law, which the Senate proposed, says the emigrants' offspring would be able to get Czech citizenship by declaration.

The Interior Ministry had already proposed this in 2013 but the Chamber of Deputies then deleted this provision from the government proposal. The MPs felt then that it would allow people who do not speak Czech and have never been to the Czech Republic to get the citizenship.

Communist (opposition KSCM) MP Zdenek Ondracek used similar arguments against the law when the lower house discussed it in June. MP Radek Koten (opposition far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy, SPD) warned against passing the bill, too. He said it was not clear how many people would use the provision and whether they would then try to misuse the Czech welfare system.

Senate expatriate commission head Tomas Czernin (opposition right-wing TOP 09) denounced such objections. "The fear that they could burden our welfare system seems ridiculous to me," he said, adding that the expatriates' descendants were educated people who had always felt a sense of belonging towards the Czech Republic.

The law, approved also by the government of Andrej Babis (ANO), is to concern hundreds of people, the Interior Ministry said, pointing out the Czechs living in the crisis-struck Venezuela.

The senators introduced the bill as the current legislation with the dual citizenship option often divided the expatriate families. It affected families which had to leave former Czechoslovakia after the 1948 Communist coup.

The people applying for Czech citizenship will have to provide documents stating the date and way in which their parents or grandparents lost the Czech or Czechoslovak citizenship.

The Presidential Office said in a press statement that Zeman today also signed a law that extends the powers of the Czech intelligence services so that they can handle information systems data and gain protected banking data.

Intelligence services will have a better chance to protect hidden identities by means of information systems data thanks to the law, which also allows them to gain and process digital photos and identifiers of people who figure in information systems. Intelligence services will be therefore able to create their own system of search for persons based on their faces, which would make their use data from foreign secret services more effective.

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