Letter: Citizenship is first step to halt racism

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The Independent Online
Sir: Alan Watson is clearly right in his view ('Germany needs a passport to peace', 3 June) that it is in Germany's own interest to scrap the ban on dual citizenship and thus assist its long-term immigrant population towards being more easily accepted as fellow citizens.

He does not, however, mention the work already undertaken in Germany on this question.

In February this year, Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen, the German government representative with responsibility for foreign residents, tabled draft legislation aimed at changing the nationality law. In particular,

she proposes easing the conditions for naturalisation, allowing dual citizenship, and granting automatic citizenship to children born on German

soil.

This last point, if passed into law, would immediately change the status of approximately 1 million of the 1.5 million young 'foreigners' under 18 at present living in Germany.

Frau Schmalz-Jacobsen admits that legislation by itself is not enough. In a statement in the monthly Europaische Zeitung (May 1993) she writes:

I am of course aware that changing the citizenship law will not of itself put a stop to violent forms of racism and enmity towards foreigners, but it will provide the necessary legal and therefore social basis for true equality of treatment.

The problem is not exclusively German. Intolerance towards members of other racial and ethnic groups, often accompanied by violence, is found in many European countries, including our own. While action to protect such groups is essential at the national level, the need for an effective EC community relations policy has never been more obvious.

Yours sincerely,

JOHN PARRY

Chairman

International Relations Committee

European Movement - UK

London, SW1

3 June

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