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Germany eases single citizenship law slightly

Migrant children born and raised in Germany are to get dual nationality. Germany's parliament has approved a loophole to law that requires migrant teenagers to drop their parent's nationality if seeking German statehood.

Germany's largely singular nationality law was widened slightly on Thursday by the Bundestag, the German parliament, to allow children born and raised in Germany to migrant parents to apply for two passports.

Parliament's vote, 463 for and 111 against, implemented a deal finalized in January when Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives entered into a grand coalition government with Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel's center-left Social Democrats (SPD).

Strong objections came on Thursday from the Bundestag's opposition parties. Sevim Dagdelen of the Linke (Left) party accused Merkel's conservatives of sticking to an outdated dogma of avoiding multiple nationalities.

Adding to this, Greens interior affairs spokesman Volker Beck said Germany's constitution did not allow German nationality to be in various levels or shades.

Thursday's amendment, mostly benefiting children of Turkish migrants, requires them to prove by the age of 21 that they have lived for at least eight years in Germany, or have attended school or vocational training institutions in Germany for six years.

As proof, teenage applicants will be required to submit their school or vocational training certificates.

'Compulsion to choose'

The amendment is a departure from a law change in place since 2000 that otherwise requires children of migrant parents residing in Germany to give up their parent's statehood if they apply to become German citizens. This system is called in German Optionspflicht or the compulsion to choose an option.

Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere of Merkel's Christian Democratic party (CDU) said young adults who in past years had opted to keep their parent's nationality and thereby lost their previously-held German citizenship could now submit an application to again become a German national.

There would be no automatic back-dating, he added.

De Maiziere said he was sure that "practical solutions" could be found for those migrant children affected.

Compromise, says coalition's SPD

SPD interior affairs expert Rüdiger Veit admitted that the Social Democrats would have preferred a general acceptance of dual nationality in Germany, but added that the deal with Merkel's conservatives was not a bad compromise.

The interior affairs spokesman of Merkel's conservative group, comprising her CDU and Bavaria Christian Social Union (CSU), Stephan Mayer said Germany would continue to avoid the principle of double nationalities.

"That is a good message, because it promotes societal cohesion," he said, adding that longstanding German citizenship law represented a commitment to Germany and an avoidance of "parallel communities."

Other exceptions only extended to children born to citizens of EU countries and those born in families where one parent was a foreign national, he added.

Critics, including Turkish communities in Germany

, have long pressed for liberalization and say Thursday's amendment for many only prolongs the compulsion to choose.

The 'passport' seen in the above image is a symbolic representation of dual nationality.

ipj/jr (Reuters, dpa, epd, AFP)

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