Germany granted citizenship to almost one million foreigners between 2002 and 2009. The largest group of naturalized Germans has Turkish roots.
As a new citizen, this women can now vote in Germany
Germany granted citizenship to 967,860 people between 2002 and 2009, according to recent statistics provided by the Interior Ministry.
"That is a huge figure," said Johannes Singhammer, deputy leader of the Christian Social Union's (CSU) parliamentary group, in an interview with German daily Die Welt on Monday. "It shows that Germany is a very open country."
He said the figures showed that almost everyone who wanted to become German, "with all the rights and duties involved," had received nationality.
Germany's new citizens hail from 25 nations, according to the statistics, with immigrants with Turkish roots (309,346) making up the largest group.
The second-largest group of nationalized foreigners are from Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo (61,936), followed by immigrants from Iran (46,011), Poland (40,503), Russia (29,598) and Iraq (29,580). In addition, 9,646 stateless people were also granted German citizenship. Tunisians were the smallest group with 7,911 naturalizations.
Most of the new Germans live in the western part of the country, with the largest group of new citizens, 291,117, settling in the country's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia.
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However, the head of the German Green party, Cem Özdemir, has criticized the development.
"Germany brings up the rear in Europe where naturalization is concerned," Özdemir told Die Welt, adding that Germany was hardly utilizing its naturalization potential to the full.
The Greens politician urged reforming current citizenship laws, including extending dual citizenship, a move the conservatives in Chancellor Angela Merkel's government oppose.
Özdemir said Germany's policy of avoiding multiple nationalities is outdated, especially since it is full of loopholes. In practice, the opposition politician said, there already are exceptions for immigrants from some countries, and exceptions allowing people to keep their original nationalities under special circumstances. About 4.5 million people in Germany have more than one nationality.
Author: Dagmar Breitenbach (epd, KNA)
Editor: Martin Kuebler