Germany’s new dual citizenship rules criticised by Turkish groups

Arrangements do not include those born abroad who have spent decades in Germany

Justice minister Heiko Maas described the overhauled citizenship rules as a “very significant step towards modern citizenship policy”. Photograph: EPA/Maurizio Gambarini

Justice minister Heiko Maas described the overhauled citizenship rules as a “very significant step towards modern citizenship policy”. Photograph: EPA/Maurizio Gambarini

Sat, Mar 29, 2014, 01:00

Germany’s three million-strong Turkish community has dismissed liberalised dual citizenship rules for non-EU citizens as a “half-hearted bureaucratic monster”.

Justice minister Heiko Maas described the overhauled citizenship rules as a “very significant step towards modern citizenship policy”.

Until now children from families of Turkish or other non-EU origin who were born in Germany were forced to choose between a German or other passport at 21. EU citizens living in Germany are entitled to hold two passports. With about 30,000 young people forced annually to choose a passport, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) promised ahead of last September’s federal election to remove the dual citizenship discrepancy.

On entering a grand coalition with Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union, however, they were forced into a compromise.


Dual citizenship
The new rules allow dual citizenship to people over the age of 21 who were born in Germany and have lived there for at least eight years, or who have attended school here for at least six years without being born here. Exceptions will also allow dual citizenship for young people who have spent fewer than six years here but graduated from a German school or finished vocational training.

Groups representing Germany’s Turkish community expressed their disappointment, saying the deal did nothing for people born abroad who have spent decades in Germany, such as the so-called “ Gastarbeiter ” immigrant workers.

Kenan Kolat, head of the Turkish community in Germany, said thousands of Turks would still have to choose between German and Turkish citizenship – something he called a setback to integration policy that contradicted Germany’s image of a “modern, immigrant-friendly society”.

The criticism of the deal, set to pass parliament this year, stretched into the SPD.Torsten Albig, Schleswig-Holstein state premier, said it would require checks of all 21-year-olds with two passports.

The opposition Left Party said the law would ensure migrants’ children, though born in Germany, remained “optional Germans, on sufferance”.