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3. Levent Bayram, behielt die türkische Staatsbürgerschaft - im Kreis seiner Familie
Bildergalerie "Doppelte Staatsbürgerschaft"Image: Levent Bayram

Turks and dual citizenship

Wolfgang Dick / ng
July 17, 2013

German law only grants dual citizenship in exceptional circumstances. It's often a problem for German Turks, many of whom feel marginalized as they don't want to give up their Turkish passports.


Levent Bayram is 39 years old. He was born in Berlin in the 1970s, when children born to immigrants in Germany had no choice but to take on their parents' nationality, regardless of where they were born.

Levent still only has a Turkish passport, as he was never naturalized in Germany. If he was to become German, he would have to renounce his Turkish passport. It's not an option for him, as he has "such a strong emotional connection to his parents' home country," he tells DW.

Levent spent a few years working in Turkey selling books and telephones. Now he works as a social media manager for the German-Turkish Journal in Berlin, but he doesn't want to lose touch with Turkish culture. For him, a Turkish passport would symbolize and strengthen that connection.

People like Levent don't understand why German law makes them choose between two nationalities, when EU citizens have the option of dual citizenship. "Why can't we Turks have the same?" he asks, clearly feeling disadvantaged.

He points out that he has always felt at home in Germany and that he has never had any problems or been mistreated.

Levent loves Germany, but he also feels a strong attachment to Turkey, which is why he favors dual citizenship. He would also like to become involved in politics. "I have so many ideas, but I can't do anything here," he says. To change that, he would have to become a German national, "but not if I have to give up my Turkish passport," he insists.

Levent Bayram
Levent doesn't see a problem with having two passportsImage: Levent Bayram

Confused identities

German law is tearing apart his whole family, as current regulations make your place of birth the decisive factor. So, Levent's brother is Turkish, his sister is German, his wife is Turkish.

His daughter, who was born four years ago in Berlin, is German. His son, who was born 15 years ago in Turkey, is Turkish. In three years' time, he will have to decide if he wants to be German. He says he will say no. Not because he feels a strong connection to Turkey, but because he doesn't feel at home in Germany.

Career restrictions

Merve Gül is 21 years old - she faces a different issue: She is a law student, born and bred in Germany - a so-called "optional case." In 2000, a reform of German citizenship law was passed, meaning that Merve will have to either confirm or lose German citizenship by her 23rd birthday. Until she turns 23, she has both passports.

Merve has another reason for dual citizenship. "There is a rule in Turkey that stipulates you can't work in the legal profession there unless you are a Turkish national," she explains, adding that she wants to keep her options open with regards to her career. "I definitely plan to work in Turkey for a few years," she says.

She therefore has to apply for an exemption, which she says "can be granted if the person can prove that he or she would suffer significant economic damage when giving up one nationality."

But she says it's extremely important to stick to the facts when filing such a motion, and to not get emotional. She says she was lucky and it all went smoothly. "But German authorities are not always happy to co-operate," she adds, citing experiences from some of her friends.

Sevda Adiguezel (left) und Arzu Badak Copyright: DW/Wolfgang Dick Köln, Juli 2013
Sevda and Arzu are into politics to make a differenceImage: DW/W. Dick

Sevda Adiguezel describes a situation many German Turks would recognize. "In Turkey, I'm the German who is actually Turkish. In Germany, I'm the Turk who is actually German," she tells DW. She always feels like she doesn't belong. The 26-year-old studies general management in Cologne, speaks perfect German and feels at ease in German society.

She rejects the implication that she needs a German passport to make her fully "integrated," given that she is a third-generation German Turk. Nevertheless she decided to become a German national, so she can get involved politically. "If we don't speak up, even our grandchildren will still not have the rights we're entitled to," she tells DW.

Sevda and her friend, engineering student Arzu Badak, are involved in the academic organization "Dein Köln e.V." ("Your Cologne") Badak, too, decided in favor of German citizenship, as she believes it will help her career and allow her to get involved in politics.

Both are trying to motivate young immigrants to get into politics. Sometimes words fail her when people say "you're a German national, but you're not German."

"That hurts," she says, adding that there was still a lot to be done to change the indecisive nature of German immigration policy to make it clear and fair for everyone.

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