Turkish Community in Germany

Interior Minister Pursues Illegal Dual Nationals

Germany's large Turkish population has come under the microscope of the government, which wants to crack down on those who hold dual citizenship. By Sunanda Rao-Erdem

photo: AP
Germany no longer tolerates dual nationalities

​​In order to keep German-Turks from voting illegally in next month's crucial state elections in North Rhine Westphalia, the German government has begun going after those who hold dual citizenship.

Only German nationals are allowed to vote in Germany, and citizenship laws reformed in 2000 forbid Germans from holding any other passport. But roughly 50,000 of the country's 2 million strong Turkish community still do, and Interior Minister Otto Schily announced this week that the government wants to find out who.

In talks with his Turkish counterpart, Abdulkadir Aksu, Schily asked for a list of all Germans of Turkish descent who had received a Turkish passport after 2000. Both the interior minister and his colleagues in the opposition Christian Democratic party want to keep dual nationals from voting in the May 22 election.

Turks responded angrily to the plans

Some in the Turkish community have responded angrily to the plans. Many of those with dual citizenship weren't aware of the change in law and now fear new paperwork, even deportation, if they tell the German government. Businessman Ekber Bialoglou said the aggressiveness of Schily's plan angers him.

"Considering their past, Germans should deal with this problem with much more tolerance and moderation," said Biagloglou. "They should be happy if someone wants to become a German national or decides to live his life in Germany."

Turkish organizations have tried to talk to local governments to come up with a solution to the issue but without much luck.

"In every law, especially one like this, there is normally a transitional period before it comes into effect. This could have been done here as well," said Hakki Keski, head of the Association of Turkish Communities in Hamburg.

Government depends on good will

At the moment, the government has no real way of knowing who has dual citizenship. Cities have been sending out letters to German-Turks asking for information. If those with two passports head to the voting booths, they could get in legal trouble, said officials. But if they come to local immigration offices the problems should be solved fairly quickly, said Dethleff Feige, spokesman for the city of Essen.

"We expect a pretty good response from all these people," he said. "Of course, they would then have to give up their Turkish nationality, but for that, they will get the German."

Sunanda Rao-Erdem


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