Senior German politicians call for changes to dual citizenship laws after German Turks vote to increase Erdogan's powers

Justin Huggler
A campaign event in support of President Erdogan in Frankfurt in March  - AP

The shockwaves from the Turkish referendum have reached as far as Germany, where they have set off renewed controversy over the role of the country’s huge Turkish community.

Senior MPs from Angela Merkel’s Bavarian sister party have called for dual citizenship rules to be changed after German Turks voted heavily in favour of expaning President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

Thomas de Maiziere, the interior minister, called for a debate on finding a “common future” for the country’s German and Turkish populations.

A senior member of the far-Right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) described German Turks who voted in favour of the reforms as a “fifth column” and demanded they “go home”.

Some 1.5m Turkish citizens living in Germany were eligible to vote in the referendum, out of an estimated total population of 4m people of Turkish origin.

While the referendum was passed by the narrowest of margins in Turkey as a whole, with just 51 per cent in favour, among German Turks the Yes vote was much higher, at 63 per cent.

That has been greeted with horror in Germany, where the referendum comes amid deeply strained relations with Turkey.

Mr Erdogan has repeatedly lashed out at Angela Merkel’s government in recent weeks, accusing it of “Nazi practices” — a slur Mrs Merkel described as “unacceptable”.

There is huge public anger in Germany over the case of Deniz Yücel, a journalist with dual German and Turkish nationality who is being held in Turkey after being arrested in the Erdogan regime’s crackdown on press freedom.

Mrs Merkel called on German Turks to “show loyalty to our country” last summer, amid mass political rallies in support of Mr Erdogan.

“I expect the Turks and the German Turks in Germany to participate in a debate on a constructive common future,” Mr de Maizière said on Tuesday.

He warned against any further “drifting apart of our cultural circles”.

Several MPs from Mrs Merkel’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) went further.

“If the results are to be trusted, a large majority of the Turks who enjoy all democratic rights here either did not vote at all or agreed to concemn their countrymen to live in an authoritarian state,” Gerda Hasselfeldt, the deputy leader of Mrs Merkel’s group in parliament, said

Stephan Mayer, another CSU MP, demanded dual citizenship rules be tightened.

The vote has provoked debate across party lines in Germany.

Cem Özdemir, the Green party leader, who is himself the child of Turkish immigrants, called on Germany’s Turks to commit themselves to their new homeland.

“The election result also shows that we have a long way to go in terms of integration,” he said. “We must fully accept the values and constitution of our country if we want to be here in the long run.”

The AfD was precictably strident. “Erdogan’s fifth column should go back where they clearly like it best and where they belong: Turkey,” Alice Weidel, a senior party member said.

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