Conflicting loyalties? Germany debates dual citizenship 

Good report on some aspects of the debate:

Germany’s debate on dual citizenship seems to be at odds with its inclusive approach to refugees – and its economic success story. Turks, in particular, feel ostracized when German officials question their loyalty.

Dual citizenship

Earlier this week, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she and her government expect a “high level of loyalty” to be displayed by Germany’s largest immigrant community: the Turkish diaspora. Her divisive remarks came after mass rallies were held in support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following last month’s thwarted coup.

Recent security threats across the country have also prompted a re-evaluation of immigration strategy, putting the chancellor in the uncomfortable position of having to balance her welcoming approach toward refugees with the realities of Germany’s history of lacking long-term plans to integrate new residents.

Merkel questioned some Turks’ loyalty after tens of thousands rallied in support of Erdogan

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also made remarks that seemed to challenge the allegiance of dual nationals, saying that allowing people to hold multiple citizenships was not a desirable long-term goal for the government.

The chairman of Germany’s TGD Turkish community association, which primarily functions as a legal network, said he welcomed the chancellor’s initiative as a way to advance the loyalty discussion, but he also criticized the idea that a series of unconnected events could call into question the allegiance of millions of people who live in Germany.

“It can’t be that a debate on loyalty is sparked purely on the basis of ethnic Turks’ participating at a rally in Cologne,” Gökay Sofuoglu told DW, adding that “milestones of social integration and participation” were suddenly being questioned – including dual citizenship.

“We have played a major role in rebuilding this country,” Sofuoglu said, referring to post-World War II reconstruction. “It is sad that the accomplishments of that first generation haven’t been honored or even acknowledged but are rather repeatedly being questioned. All these discussions only go to prove this country’s ingratitude and its total failure at its immigration policy.”

‘Mistakes were made’

Though having multiple nationalities is regarded as worldly and debonair in many cultures, Germany’s attitude is more conflicted. The subject of dual citizenship can touch a nerve as Germany tries to nail down an identity in a multicultural age; the country has become the second most popular destination for immigration after the United States, according to UN figures.

De Maiziere said facilitating dual citizenship was not in the long-term interest of the government

“Germany now has 55 years of experience of dealing with migrants,” Sofuoglu said. “We all know what mistakes were made in the past. It would be beneficial if – rather than continuing to alienate migrants and questioning their loyalties – we helped open doors and create opportunities for these people arriving in Germany now.”

The response to terror threats is a factor in the dual nationality debate, as is the potential reintroduction of compulsory military conscription. German law automatically dictates the loss of citizenship in most instances if a national joins another nation’s military, yet the armed forces are currently considering allowing citizens of other EU states to join.

A two-tiered society

The TGD’s Sofuoglu argues that threatening to revoke dual citizenship and forcing people from ethnic minorities to choose creates “second-class German nationals” who have to live in constant fear of having their privileges taken away.

Sofuoglu, a dual national, said Germany’s restrictive policy amounts to ingratitude

“No one would come up with the idea of revoking the citizenship of a native German without a migrant background who acts in an undesirable way,” Sofuoglu said. “So why do other people who were also born and raised here have to abide by a different set of standards simply because they have their roots abroad? … Because some of them chose to partake in a rally in favor of the Turkish president?”

“If loyalty to the state is such a problem, what about those right extremists protesting against Merkel and insinuating that she should be executed for allowing refugees to come to Germany?” Sofuoglu said. “Is that what they call loyalty?”

Source: Conflicting loyalties? Germany debates dual citizenship | News | DW.COM | 24.08.2016

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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