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Justice Minister: relax dual citizenship law
Photo: DPA

Justice Minister: relax dual citizenship law

Published: 19 Feb 2013 10:22 GMT+01:00
Updated: 19 Feb 2013 10:22 GMT+01:00

Pressure is increasing for Germany to expand its dual citizenship laws to enable people from Turkish and other backgrounds to have two passports. Now the justice minister has spoken out in favour of a change.

The current rules, introduced in 2000, mean that people born to a non-European Union family have both citizenships while they are children, but must decide for one or the other before they hit the age of 23. If they fail to demonstrate that they have renounced their non-German citizenship then, they automatically lose their German one.

The rule does not apply to children who have one parent from an EU country - they can retain their dual citizenship.

One young woman from Darmstadt, whose family is Turkish, experienced exactly that recently, Der Spiegel news magazine reported. She forgot to relinquish her Turkish passport before her 23rd birthday and lost her German citizenship as a result.

The magazine said the rule will affect more than 3,000 people this year, but that by 2018, this figure will rise to more than 40,000 each year. An investigation by the Office for Migration and Refugees suggested that 88 percent are likely to opt to become solely German at the expense of their other citizenship.

And now, five months ahead of the general election, junior coalition partner the Free Democrats (FDP) have put the topic firmly back on the daily political agenda.

Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger called on Tuesday for the laws to be changed. She told Der Spiegel's website, "Integration can be promoted by dual citizenship, as shown by the many cases of well-integrated citizens with dual citizenship."

She said the current situation where people have to choose, needed to be checked if it led to people turning their back on Germany.

"We should not rule out a further modernisation of the citizenship laws and put dual citizenship on a broader legal basis," she said.

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Your comments about this article

11:25 February 19, 2013 by pepsionice
You just end up making tax collection twice as hard.
11:43 February 19, 2013 by DoubleDTown
I don't see any public policy reason for Germany to enable dual citizenship. What is the benefit to Germany other than making the people with the dual citizenship happy?

As to the woman who "forgot" to relinquish her Turkish citizenship. How could such a momentous thing be "forgotten"? Did she also "forget" her Einkommensteuererklaerung? I bet she didn't "forget" her BAföG application.
13:26 February 19, 2013 by ovalle3.14
I am yet to see a non-EU citizen oppose dual citizenship. It's very easy to speak from higher ground...
13:27 February 19, 2013 by ichbines
I think anyone born and raised in a country no matter where should automatically have citizenship of that country. This old law seems to be racist if you ask me. And I wonder if the vote will be extended to these people as it was recently for Germans over 16.(of course no one is asking me - I am also a powerless resident of Germany for over 12 years)
14:04 February 19, 2013 by TheWonderer
Dual citizenship is stupid.

You can only be on one side OR the other when it comes to a critical event. Or claim support in age or need only from ONE state - not twice. Also on voting: You can only participate once.

Or if you get in trouble abroad: Who is responsible for you to get you home?

If you do not like Germany enough to give up the Turkish nationality - stay Turkish.

If you want to be fully integrated - give up your Turkish nationality.

The exception are minors - so under 18, you should keep both chances to be able to decide.

There is no need for raisin picking.

TheWonderer
15:00 February 19, 2013 by MrMooochy
@ ichbines

Relatively few countries believe what you think. The big exception is the USA (due to 14th Ammendment), and even the USA looked like it was going to possibly end that practice . . . . until the GOP lost the past election, mostly due to their poor election performance with recent immigrant groups in the USA.

Here in the EU, I believe Ireland was one of the last countries in Europe to grant citizenship to anyone born there, and as far as I know, they ended that practice about 5 - 6 years ago. So nowhere in the EU today is citizenship granted to someone simply because they were born within the country's borders. The Irish actually voted to end that practice in a referendum, which won by a big margin, despite liberals being quite upset and unhappy that citizens would be allowed to have a vote on something like that.
15:44 February 19, 2013 by adam.müller
so EU families can keep dual citizenship but no-EU families can not. WOW that's pretty RACIST. How can a country pass this law? wait, its Germany.
18:28 February 19, 2013 by vonSchwerin
Every country has the right to set its own nationality policy, but allowing dual citizenship for EU citizens, but not for non-EU citizens, does seem, fundamentally unfair -- especially when you consider that EU citizens can live, work, and even conditionally vote in German anyway.

Also, the idea of forcibly denaturalizing German citizens -- people who have been German citizens since birth -- has a really bad precedent in German history. There has got to be a better way to handle this.
18:35 February 19, 2013 by raandy
Wonderer ,, where I come from it is "cherry picking" where does "rasin picking come from?
20:18 February 19, 2013 by jg.
People born of parents with differing nationalities, may want to retain connections with both sides of their heritage. The choice of nationality may not be simply a matter of which country someone lives in. Giving up nationality in some countries will preclude the right to own property - someone forced choose between nationalities may therefore have to give up rights to a family inheritance.

I see integration as an entirely different issue. The fact that someone has chosen a given nationality does not mean that they will automatically integrate into that country's culture.
21:20 February 19, 2013 by ovalle3.14
To the comment from jg. I would add what happens to some of us expats: you get married to a German. You got a job, are doing quite well here in Germany, want to take the benefits and obligations of German citizenship but also see good things in keeping your own nationality because you may plan to retire to your country of origin one day, want to own property there or whatever.

The only way dual citizenship seems like a fundamentally bad idea is if we assume it will exclusively be taken by the lazy, long term unemployed or criminals.
22:07 February 19, 2013 by smart2012
Dual citizienship is normal in most democratic countries except Germany. Why? Cause Germany is still a nationalistic country.

And now they want to open this mainly for the Turkish case (so many Turkish in Germany that will never give up the Turkish citizenship for the German one as they do not like Germans). But now Germany is struggling with business while turkey is booming.. And here u see why Germany is opening dual citizenship for Turkish.. So that they can try to keep them and pay retirement of old Germans instead of seeing them flying to booming instanbul.
23:21 February 19, 2013 by lenny van
I understand the benefits of dual citizenship in most countries, but specifically with regards to Germany, I don't see the advantage.
07:13 February 20, 2013 by DrWho
@adam.müller - You really need to look up the word racist in a dictionary. That word is thrown around way too much.

Dual nationality is a bad idea. It only creates a class of people with split loyalites, which this story proves. Turks (I mention since this story is obviously about them) in Germany want both because they have no intention to integrate into German society. Those that do want to integrate could care less about a Turkish passport.

Bottom line: There is no advantage to Germany to allow dual citizenship.
08:11 February 20, 2013 by Dude22
I guess it is different when it comes to politicians here in Germany! The claim here is that," You can't be a good German and hold dual citizenship.| Well the same can be said to these very same politicians, How can you represent the people (as they claim) while working for big business? Ever wonder why you have less rights, and the workmanship and service are POOR here? If you kill someone here, you have more rights than if you miss paying a bill??????? While the politicians give more and more power and money to big business.

Think about it, it works for everyone or nobody!

The Government is only concerned with one thing.................MORE MONEY IN THEIR POCKETS NOT YOURS. So if they can make money from Dual Citizenship it will happen here. If not.......................................no chance!
10:37 February 20, 2013 by smart2012
Lets also add one thing. U cannot be a good German if your surname sounds Turkish... Whatever citizenship u have...

In my example my kid has 3 nationalities, why should he give up one???
16:54 February 20, 2013 by raandy
Both my children have dual citizenship, when they are in Germany,they are Germans and would receive no help from the US embassy, likewise when they are in America,If they travel they would have a choice as to which passport to use , if they enter with the German then they can not claim US, this is how it was explained to me at the embassy.

There are advantages , they can go the US for University, work or to live with out any need to apply, or stay here and do the same,choices most of us do not have.
19:17 February 23, 2013 by Berliner1978
"I think anyone born and raised in a country no matter where should automatically have citizenship of that country."

And in most countries, that is exactly how it is.

"Also, the idea of forcibly denaturalizing German citizens -- people who have been German citizens since birth -- has a really bad precedent in German history."

My wife born and raised in Berlin, would be considered a foreigner in Germany if she went back there as she is now a naturalized US citizen. Her two son's, 10 & 13 years, likewise have blue passports and citizenship certificates granted as one of their birth parents (Her) is a US citizen. Before she left, she inquired about maintaining her German citizenship. She was told she could apply to do so but it would only be approved if she was heiress to a large estate or such in Germany, or if she was married to a foreign diplomat. (I am not always very diplomatic so that was out....) So, apparently is either about money or who you are....or who you know.....

At the same time, I think we all know there is a cultural underflow to this. Germans who live in the US have no problem fitting in, and the Americans I know who went to Germany when in the military and never returned to the US permanently likewise assimilated to Germany. I don't think it's news that many of Germany's "guest workers" have never assimilated and have no desire to do so. The fact that there are whole districts in various German cities where German police do not go unless it's in large numbers pretty much illustrates the level this problem has risen to.
20:20 February 23, 2013 by Rolande300
It is always interesting to follow the changes to German citizenship law. My mother had to give up her German citizenship when she moved and settled in England in 1947 where she became a UK citizen. This of course has had implications for her children, being born to an Anglo German family, yet only having the right to UK citizen.
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