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German government defends plan to ease citizenship rules

German government defends plan to ease citizenship rules


The German government on Monday defended plans to make it easier to obtain citizenship, countering complaints from both within the ruling coalition and the opposition that doing so could encourage illegal immigration.

The government has said it wants to boost immigration and training to tackle the skills shortages weighing on Europe's biggest economy at a time of slowing economic growth and an aging population adding to pressure on the system. public pensions.

“Anyone who lives and works here on a permanent basis should also be able to vote and be elected. They should be part of our country with all the rights and duties that come with it," Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a televised immigration forum.

"And this should be completely independent of origin, skin color, or religious affiliation," he added.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, from Mr Scholz's Social Democrats (SPD), set out plans to cut the number of years a person must wait before becoming a citizen from eight to five and lift restrictions on dual citizenship. .

German language requirements for citizenship would also be relaxed for immigrants of the 1950s and 1960s, most of them Turkish, who had gone to work in West Germany.

Mr. Scholz also supported the right of immigrants to have dual citizenship, arguing that "belonging and identity are not mutually exclusive factors."

The bill may undergo changes as it goes to other government departments for consultation in the coming days, after which it must be approved by the three-party cabinet and then sent to lawmakers in the Bundestag.

The general secretary of the FDP, the junior partner in the coalition with the SPD and the Green environmentalists, has spoken out against the plan. In an interview with the "Rheinische Post" newspaper, Bijan Djir-Sarai questioned the timing of the presentation of this bill, while condemning the lack of progress in deportations and the fight against illegal migration.

Ms Faeser played down the differences in the coalition and said all parties had signed up to the plan in their coalition agreement. The legal changes could come into effect in the summer of 2023, she added.

The conservative opposition has also criticized the citizenship proposal. Alexander Dobrindt of Bavaria's CSU party told Bild magazine that the reforms would have an "attractive effect on illegal migration"./VOA

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