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8 Helsinki Monitor 19 (1997)
The Right to Have Rights: Citizenship in Newly Independent OSCE Countries

handle is hein.journals/helsnk8 and id is 21 raw text is: The right to have rights:
Citizenship in newly independent OSCE countries
Erika B. Schlager'
'Citizenship is man's basic right for it is nothing less than the right to have
rights. Remove this priceless possession and there remains a stateless person,
disgraced and degraded in the eyes of his countrymen.'
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, dissenting, Perez v. Brownell (1958)
'History will judge this Conference not by what we say here today, but by
what we do tomorrow - not only by the promises we make, but by the
promises we keep.'
President Gerald Ford, at the signing of the Helsinki Final Act (1975)
1.   Introduction
Questions relating to citizenship began to inch towards the top of OSCE
agendas in 1991 when the unthinkable actually happened: the Soviet Union
sprung a leak. At first, only its pugnacious little 'break-away' Baltic states
trickled out, but eventually all of its artificially crafted Soviet Socialist
Republics came gushing forth. The sinking of the Soviet empire came as a
shock to western governments, which may have hoped for and pressed for
reform and democratization within the Warsaw Pact states, but were, in
reality, unprepared for the changes that came.
While government officials from Washington to Bonn were left scram-
bling to figure out whether the end of the Soviet Union was, after all, good or
bad (and, more to the point, figuring out what this meant for European
security structures), a representative of a Baltic state quietly previewed what
would soon become the focus of several international organizations.
Speaking at the 1991 CSCE (OSCE) Oslo Seminar on Democratic Institu-
tions (only two months after Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were admitted to
the OSCE as full participating states), this delegate declined to engage in the
general debate on election laws; instead, he argued that electoral legislation in
his country would be meaningless until a basic law on citizenship was passed.
A citizenship law would, in turn, determine who could vote, run for office, or
own media enterprises and banks, as well as a host of other rights and
Citizenship - or the lack thereof - defines the relationship between an
individual and the state. In East-Central Europe and the former Soviet Union,
newly independent states now have the potential to embrace people on the
1.   Counsel for International Law, U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The Commission is a U.S. Government agency established in 1976 to monitor and report
on the Helsinki process. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not
necessarily represent the views of the Commission or the U.S. Government.

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