Germany in Brief | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 11.07.2003
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Germany in Brief

The Goethe Institut plans to open up in Baghdad after 35 years, Interior Minister urges Turkey to take back its citizens and foreigners face conviction after attacking skinheads.


President of the Goethe Institut Jutta Limbach (right) with German Foreign Minister Fischer.

Goethe Institut to resume service in Baghdad

The Goethe Institut, the German language and cultural institute, plans to open shop again in Baghdad after a 35-year forced break. "We shouldn’t wait till everything functions, but should soon be active again," Jutta Limbach President of the Goethe Institut Inter Nationes said at the headquarters in Munich on Friday. Limbach said Iraqi artists and intellectuals, who didn’t want to belong to a religious or ethnic group, were trying to establish contacts abroad and needed an independent forum. "European cultural institutes can contribute towards the building of civic-social structures in a special way," Limbach said. According to the Goethe Institut about 700 students were registered at the German language and literature faculty at the Baghdad university till before the recent Iraq war. Limbach pointed towards Afghanistan as an example for the kind of aid the Goethe Institut can provide. In Kabul, the Goethe Institut has successfully helped build up libraries and facilitates for the training of filmmakers, musicians and German teachers. A delegation from the Goethe Institut will travel to Baghdad together with representatives of the foreign ministry in August to test the waters.

Schily asks Turkey to take back nationals

German Interior Minister Otto Schily has urged Turkey to take back former Turkish nationals even against their wish in a letter to his Turkish counterpart Abdulkadir Aksu. Berlin daily Tagesspiegel reported the matter related to practices adopted by Turkish authorities to strip their own citizens living abroad of their nationality if they refused to serve in the Turkish army. Schily criticized the action, saying it amounted to "regulating domestic matters of Turkey at the cost of burdening Germany." Schily also stressed in the letter Turkey should ensure that it met EU standards when it came to nationality issues especially since it wanted to enter the 15-member bloc. A spokesperson for the German interior ministry also said Schily’s letter was in keeping with German plans for signing a repatriation treaty with Turkey. The Tagesspiegel reported that Schily’s letter was prompted after a special investigation team in Berlin found that a large number of rejected asylum-seekers couldn’t be deported because their nationality supposedly couldn’t be confirmed. All were reportedly registered under another name in Turkey. The report said Turkey had stripped the group of their nationality on the same day that investigations were carried out, in order to avoid taking them back. Over two million Turks live in Germany, making them the largest immigrant group in the country.

Foreigners face conviction for assaulting skinheads

Four young foreigners who beat up a skinhead in Siegburg near Bonn in western Germany now have to reckon with a conviction for attempted murder after Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (BGH) overturned a ruling by a Bonn court. The BGH ruled that a "politically" motivated life-threatening assault can be punished as attempted murder because the motives can be regarded as "flimsy" when a person plans to kill another only on the grounds of him belonging to a particular group. The court said the clause also applied to racially-motivated attacks on foreigners by right-wing extremists. The court found that the Bonn court ruling (conviction for attempted manslaughter and assault) had been too mild towards the attackers and has ordered it to take a renewed look at the case. The accused, among them Germans, Turks and Afghans assaulted a group of three skinheads in 2001. Two managed to escape but the third was hit several times on the head with a wooden stick, suffering life threatening cranial injuries on the victim. The Bonn court had sentenced the main accused to five years and a month in jail, while three others were released on parole.