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Citizenship

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Citizenship

Ahmet İçduygu, Deniz Sert

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In Turkey, citizenship is granted in three main ways. In ex lege acquisition of citizenship, children of Turkish mothers or fathers are automatically granted citizenship, whether the child was born in Turkey or not. If they cannot acquire the citizenship of their parents, children born in Turkey to non-Turkish citizens are also granted citizenship automatically (ius soli). Turkish citizenship can also be awarded on other grounds at the discretion of the authorities.

The Citizenship Law (Law No. 403, dated 11 February 1964) is the main piece of legislation on citizenship. Recent amendments to the Law have had important implications for protecting the rights of immigrants and reflect changes in Turkey's approach to migration management. Prior to one amendment in 2003, female foreigners could obtain Turkish citizenship immediately by marrying a Turkish national. Many female irregular migrants obtained permits this way via arranged marriages. At the same time, it was rather hard for male foreigners to obtain Turkish citizenship through marriage. Now the conditions for citizenship through marriage have been standardized for both genders. The amended law states that foreigners who are married to Turkish nationals can become citizens of the Republic on the condition that their marriage continues over three years. Children of such couples are immediately granted Turkish citizenship.

In an effort to maintain ties with Turkish migrants abroad, who increasingly opt for permanent residence in their host countries and choose to renounce their Turkish citizenship, the Turkish state amended its citizenship law to legalize dual citizenship in 1981. The large number of Turkish citizens living abroad and their economic importance for Turkey explain why tolerance of dual citizenship has increased in the country. A variety of émigré Turkish organizations, especially in Germany, have worked hard to persuade policy-makers in Turkey to assist integration into their host countries without having to renounce their inheritance rights in Turkey.

However, such openness in Turkey's citizenship law and perception of dual citizenship has not changed the fact that many Turkish migrants living abroad still have problems acquiring the citizenship of their host countries. Yet, this lack of recognition on the part of host states does not prevent them from becoming involved in political activities. In Germany, where dual citizenship has been a controversial issue, migrant community associations are encouraged. Accordingly, there are a total of 2 014 active Turkish-migrant associations in Germany. While 668 of these can be defined as religious associations, 670 are involved in socio-cultural, 343 in athletic, and 333 in other activities. A significant number of these associations have a connection with Islamic movements, and a considerable number of them represent the Kurdish diaspora.

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  1. See Kadirbeyoglu (2007, 2007b).

  2. See İçduygu (2007b).

  3. See Kadirbeyoğlu (2007, 2007b).

  4. See Kaya (2005).

  5. See Abadan-Unat (2002).

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