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Note verbale No.4 from Stary Wiarus

Stary Wiarus, blogger, presents his compliments to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, Professor Zbigniew Rau, and has the honour to advise as follows:

1. The presently unfolding unedifying, politically sensitive, diplomatically awkward and thoroughly undesirable situation concerning the suitability or otherwise of Mr Mark Francis Brzeziński, son of the late Polish-American diplomat and statesman Zbigniew Brzeziński (1928-2017), to become the next Ambassador-designate of the United States to Warsaw, has its roots in the presence of outdated provisions in the Polish citizenship legislation (Ustawa z dnia 2 kwietnia 2009 r. o obywatelstwie polskim, Dz.U. 2012, poz. 161)

2. The provisions in question concern:

(a) Unlimited and effectively compulsory acquisition of Polish citizenship at birth by way of descent from one or both Polish citizen parents, without limitation of time or a number of generations, and without an effective opt-out process for dual nationals.

(b) Effective impossibility of renouncing Polish citizenship in a reasonable process by dual or multiple nationals.

While the Constitution of Poland (art. 34) allows for a loss of Polish citizenship by voluntary renunciation, the lack of downward delegation of decisions to approve renunciation, the absence of appeal rights, and a deliberately unreasonable and burdensome procedure of lodging renunciation requests, create a nearly insurmountable bar to renuciation.

3. The provision mentioned at 2(a) above is the source of Mark Brzeziński’s acquisition of Polish citizenship at birth, by descent from Zbigniew Brzeziński.

This provision has an unintended consequence of creating a very large number of Polish citizens outside Poland, born from dual national parents. Such persons are currently holding Polish citizenship unbeknown to themselves or, in some cases, against their will.

An example of practical manifestation of this unintended consequence is the issue of Polish passports by the Polish mission in Tel Aviv to large numbers of persons with no personal connection to Poland or its language and culture, who can, however, document having a citizen of Poland among their ancestors, however distant.

4. It should be noted that the legislation of the pre-1939 Republic of Poland had prevented creation of both the ‘Brzeziński type’ and the ‘Tel Aviv type’ situations, by mandating the automatic loss of Polish citizenship by any citizen of Poland upon acquiring citizenship of another state. (Art. 11, Ustawa z dnia 20 stycznia 1920 r. o obywatelstwie Państwa Polskiego, Dz.U. 1920 nr 7 poz. 44.). This regulation was revoked by the Communist Government of the People's Republic of Poland in January 1951.

5. The process mentioned at 2(b) above impedes pragmatic resolution of “Brzezinski type” situations, should they occur. It also prevents Poland from ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on Nationality (CETS 166), signed by Poland in 1999, and violates Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratified by Poland in 1977.

It should be noted that one of your predecessors, Mr Radosław Sikorski, had successfully renounced his British citizenship in 2006, using an administrative procedure of utmost simplicity and 30 days duration, not requring making supplications to the Head of State.

It should also be noted that every American passport includes an instruction on the availability of citizenship renunciation, which requires only a written declaration of intent signed before an American consular official at any US mission outside the United States.

6. Bringing the Polish citizenship legislation up to the pre-1939 standard regarding the loss of Polish citizenship upon acquiring another, and/or providing a simple and feasible path to voluntary renunciation of Polish citizenship by dual nationals, would have rendered the looming incident and/or a potential scandal over Mark Brzezinski’s ambassadorship to Warsaw entirely moot.

Stary Wiarus avails himself of this opportunity to renew to Professor Zbigniew Rau his sincere assurances of his continuing highest consideration.

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