Kohl announces steps designed to make German citizenship easier to obtain

June 17, 1993|By New York Times News Service

BERLIN -- Responding to growing pressure after fatal attacks on Turks in Germany, Chancellor Helmut Kohl announced new steps yesterday that will make German citizenship easier to obtain.

Yesterday's speech was Mr. Kohl's first major address on immigration since an attack May 29 in Solingen in which five Turks were killed. The chancellor did not go as far as some had urged, ignoring calls for an anti-discrimination law and for automatic citizenship for anyone born here.

He also announced that he has ordered the federal police to monitor the Republican Party, the largest far-right group in Germany. Some have urged the government to ban the Republicans, who are led by a former member of the Nazi SS.

Mr. Kohl asserted that his government was engaged in "an offensive against violence and intolerance" and that he was pressing for the hiring of more police officers, greater powers for local prosecutors and tougher penalties for rightists who display offensive symbols or join in physical assaults.

Many longtime foreign residents of Germany, including Turks who have spent most of their lives here and their children who were born here, complain that German laws keep them from becoming citizens. Mr. Kohl made clear that he sympathizes with these complaints, though he did not say precisely what new

formula he would favor.

"Our citizenship law is 80 years old," he told Parliament at the beginning of a special session called to discuss violence against foreigners. "In the present situation, I consider it wise that we review our rules."

Mr. Kohl urged Parliament to pass a new citizenship law this year. He said that in the interim, federal agencies would loosen procedures by which they judge applications.

As of July 1, he said, anyone who has lived legally in Germany for 15 years will be entitled to citizenship, even those who have committed minor offenses. In addition, people between 17 and 23 will be eligible if they have lived here for eight years and attended school for six.

"I am thinking mainly of young Turkish residents who were born here, who consider Germany their homeland, and who are ready to assume the duties of citizenship in our democratic state," he said.

Citizenship would give foreigners greater access to credit and jobs. It would also allow easy travel within the European Community.

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