Turkey to grant citizenship to Ahiska Turks in US

             By Hatice Ozdemir Tosun</p>    <p>ANTALYA, Turkey (AA) - Turkey will grant citizenship to Meskhetian Turks, also known as Ahiska Turks, who are already U.S. citizens, foreign minister said on Monday.</p>    <p>&quot;Turkey will offer double-citizenship to the Ahiska Turks who are already U.S. citizens and living in the U.S.,&quot; Mevlut Cavusoglu said at an event in the Mediterranean branch of World Union of Ahiska Turks in Antalya.</p>    <p>Turkey will coordinate with the World Ahiska Turks Association during the process, he added.</p>    <p>Cavusoglu said that Turkey also granted citizenship to Ahiska Turks living in Turkey.</p>    <p>Some 92,307 Ahiska Turks were expelled from Georgia’s Meskheti region by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1944, according to the World Ahiska Turks Association. </p>  <p>During nearly 40 days of deportation period from homeland to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, around 13,000 Ahiska Turks lost their lives due to hunger, cold weather and diseases, the association said.</p>    <p>Turkey has voluntarily accepted thousands of Meskhetian Turks upon President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s instruction.</p>    <p>Around half a million of Ahiska Turks live in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, the U.S. and Ukraine.

*Writing by Sibel Morrow

‘Austria should not turn its back on Turkey’: Lawmaker

             By Askin Kiyagan</p>    <p>VIENNA, Austria (AA) - Austria should not turn its back on an important ally like Turkey but seek to boost bilateral ties, according to an independent member of the Austrian parliament.</p>    <p>Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Martha Bissman said: “A fair and equal level of dialogue should be established to improve bilateral relations.”</p>    <p>“We should not turn our back to an important ally like Turkey due to various reasons,” Bisman added, pointing around 250,000 Turkish-origin people currently living in Austria. </p>    <p>She said Turkey hosts around 5 million refugees from Syria and neighboring countries and added that it “has a position of stability for the region and a safe castle for Europe.”</p>    <p>“It is not an honest approach when you need something, you establish good relations [with Turkey], but, saying ‘I do not accept this’ when Turkey wants something from you,” Bisman stressed.</p>    <p>Praising Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl’s steps to boost ties with Turkey, she expressed her desire to accompany Kneissl during her next visit to Turkey and hold political talks there.</p>    <p>The ties between the two countries had soured due to restrictions imposed by Austrian authorities in 2017 on Turkish politicians who wanted to campaign in the country ahead of a key referendum in Turkey.</p>    <p>However, the relations have been improving since the two top diplomats of Turkey and Austria pointed to “a new era” beginning in bilateral relations last year during mutual visits and the two countries agreed to take some decisions to normalize relations.</p>  <p> </p>    <p>- Turkey’s EU bid </p>    <p>On Turkey’s EU bid, Bismann said, “I think negotiations with Turkey should restart. … Such negotiation processes could last for a long time but it should be handled with patience, good diplomacy, and sensitivity.”</p>    <p>“Restarting the negotiations would be very true signal to normalize the relations with Turkey, particularly in these days,” she added. </p>    <p>Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 while accession talks began in 2005.</p>    <p>However, negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration in the divided island of Cyprus, as well as opposition from Germany and France.</p>    <p>To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations on 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.</p>    <p>As of May 2016, a total of 16 chapters had been opened and one concluded. However, in December 2016, the member states said no new chapters would be opened.</p>    <p>Stating that Austria was a country, which has a deep-rooted tradition of diplomacy, Bismann said: “Based on our tradition, we, as Austria and the EU, could show a sign that we want to maintain talks with Turkey.&quot;</p>    <p> </p>  <p>- Austrian citizens with foreign origins</p>    <p>Asked about why some part of the country do not want to regard Austrian citizens of Turkish-origin or people with foreign backgrounds as Austrians despite being born in the country, she blasted right-wing populist politicians and some media organs, which deliberately launch a negative campaign on citizens of foreign origin. </p>    <p>“There are actually many Austrians, who get along with Turkish neighbors and have quite good relations. Unfortunately, some part of the community is affected by political manipulations and cannot properly accept those people, who have been living here for 40 years and hold Austrian citizenship,” she said. </p>    <p>Last November, an investigation was launched into hundreds of Austrians of Turkish heritage on suspicion of illegally holding dual citizenship as part of a campaign orchestrated by the far-right Freedom Party (FPO). </p>      <p>On the government’s recent policies, Austrian deputy said: “The government is deliberately polarizing society. It does not only apply to the Turks, but also other minorities and those, who think differently.”</p>    <p>“They are applying an old tactic; divide and rule,” she said. </p>    <p>The politician advised minority groups to be more active in both social and political life to remove the negative image of foreigners living in Austria.

US: Judge halts citizenship question on 2020 census

             By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - The Donald Trump administration will not be allowed to ask census respondents if they are citizens when the next nationwide count takes place in 2020, a federal judge in New York ruled Tuesday. </p>  <p>U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ordered administration halt its plans to include the question, which has been omitted since 1950, after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sought to reintroduce it. </p>  <p>The question that was to be included was &quot;Is this person a citizen of the United States?&quot;</p>  <p>Ross' decision was &quot;arbitrary and capricious,&quot; Furman wrote in his 277-page decision.</p>  <p>&quot;He failed to consider several important aspects of the problem; alternately ignored, cherry-picked, or badly misconstrued the evidence in the record before him; acted irrationally both in light of that evidence and his own stated decisional criteria; and failed to justify significant departures from past policies and practices — a veritable smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut legal violations,&quot; Furman wrote. </p>  <p>His decision, however, is unlikely to be the final word on the matter -- a fact Furman acknowledged in his lengthy ruling. It is expected to be appealed, and another suit filed by the state of California is already underway. </p>  <p>A third suit in the commonwealth of Maryland is expected to begin next week. </p>  <p>Rights groups and states have sought to challenge the Trump administration's plan to include the question, arguing it would produce an inaccurate tally.</p>  <p>&quot;This victory in our case is a forceful rebuke of the administration’s attempts to weaponize the census to attack immigrants and communities of color,&quot; the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the plaintiffs in the New York case, said on Twitter shortly after Furman issued his decision. </p>  <p>The purpose of the census is to provide an accurate head count, which states and the federal government use to allocate resources among other purposes, not to identify the number of citizens in a jurisdiction. </p>  <p>Furman said in his ruling that &quot;hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of people will go uncounted in the census if the citizenship question is included.&quot; 

250+ apply for Turkish citizenship through investment

By Gokhan Ergocun

ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkey has received over 250 applications for citizenship through investment worth nearly $100 million as of the end of 2018, according to the head of a mediation firm.

Citizenship applications to Turkey are expected to boom in 2019 as the country eased its conditions in September, Akin Atalay, CEO of VIPTurkishPass, told Anadolu Agency.

A significant amount of foreigners that come to Turkey aim to benefit from the right of citizenship by purchasing houses, he said.

The housing sector, which reached the income of $4.8 billion from foreigners in 2017, is expected to sell houses to foreigners worth $10 billion as of the end of 2018, he underlined.

Atalay said people from Arabic countries, Iran and Turkic republics show the most interest in buying real estate in Turkey, and underlined that there is also heavy demand from European countries, "contrary to popular belief".

"Ten of thousands of British, German and Russian people have houses in Turkey. Most of them decide to have dual-citizenship when they see the social opportunities in Turkey," Atalay stressed.

He also said foreigners are mostly interested in Istanbul, the Mediterranean resort city Antalya and industrial city Bursa.

  • Equal rights with Turkish citizens

The Interior Ministry responds to the citizenship application in 45 days if the documents are complete, Atalay said.

He noted that the naturalized Turkish citizens will have equal rights with the other Turkish citizens such as tax and insurance premium discounts as well as government support.

"Several countries from all around the world have similar citizenship programs to attract people with education, investments and entrepreneurship," he highlighted, saying qualified work-force and high capital investments were basic factors for development.

"We want to bring people from all around the world to invest in our country and be a partner of our success story," Atalay said, adding that Turkey tries to attract investments from foreign countries through the citizenship regulation.

He also said that foreigners should cooperate with a local expert and trusted partners as the application process is "sensitive".

Atalay said the U.S. grants citizenship with an investment of $500,000 and a five-year wait; Germany with a €250,000 ($287,000) investment; Canada with an investment of $400,000 or $800,000 deposit; and Greece with a house purchase worth $250,000.

Turkey's conditions are easier; foreigners can acquire the citizenship instantly by investing $250,000, he added.

  • Reduced requirements

Foreigners who invest $500,000 in Turkey, deposit $500,000 in Turkish banks or buy real estate worth $250,000 acquire the right of lifetime citizenship.

Foreigners who commit to keep their investments, deposits or real estates for at least three years earn the right for citizenship instantly.

Meanwhile, the right for citizenship can also be used for the families — spouse and children under 18 — of the investors.

Previously, these limits were $2 million for investment, $3 million for deposit and $1 million for real estate.

Iraqi president drops British citizenship

By Ibrahim Saleh

BAGHDAD (AA) – Iraqi President Barham Salih has renounced his British citizenship in adherence to the country's Constitution, according to the Iraqi presidency on Sunday.

The Iraqi Constitution bans dual nationality for officials.

“All legal measures to give up the British citizenship have been completed,” presidential spokesman Luqman al-Feili said in a statement.

Salih was elected president of Iraq on October 2.

He was given the British citizenship in the 1980s, when he was working for the then opposition Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party during the regime of former president Saddam Hussein.

Turkey to ease foreign investors' citizenship process

By Burcu Calik

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey will open service offices to ease citizenship or long-term residence permit procedures for foreign investors, the Turkish Interior Ministry announced on Saturday.

Last month, the country has reduced required limits for foreigners to acquire Turkish citizenship in order to encourage investment.

"Service offices will be opened in Istanbul and Ankara to follow and finalize citizenship or long-term residency permit processes for foreign visitors who met the conditions in a single location," the ministry said in a written statement.

Foreigners, who want to be a citizen of Turkey, need to make a $500,000 investment, buy real estate worth $250,000 or generate jobs for at least 50 people.

The ministry said offices, which will open on Oct. 22, will check conditions, support investors and provide consultancy and follow applications.

*Gokhan Ergocun contributed to this story from Ankara.

UK to ask for higher level of English for citizenship

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – The U.K. will request a higher command of the English language from those who would like to apply for British citizenship, Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Conservative Party autumn conference in the city of Birmingham, Javid said language skills are key to integration with British society.

He said they are “raising the level of language proficiency expected for adults seeking to naturalize as British citizens.”

“Language ability is a key skill which aids the effective integration of adults and their families into the U.K. and promotes positive outcomes,” he argued.

“We want to see people who want to become citizens to make a commitment to their integration by investing in the skills they need to integrate as quickly as possible.”

Javid said there is currently no difference in the English language requirement for settling in the country and for citizenship but that “this fails to recognize the greater significance of British citizenship, or give the incentive for those who have settled here to continue developing their English language skills.”

Under current Home Office requirements, people who would like to apply for a settlement visa (Indefinite Leave to Remain) or citizenship are asked to prove they have a sufficient level of English.

The home secretary also said the British state would use its power to strip British citizenship from dual citizens who are involved in serious crimes.

Javid said Britain has used this power in extreme and exceptional cases before.

“Now, for the first time, I will apply this power to some of those who are convicted of the most grave criminal offenses,” he said.

“This applies to some of the despicable men involved in gang-based child sexual exploitation,” he added.

He said: “Our message to the very worst criminals is clear.

“If you grossly abuse the laws of this country, you will no longer be welcome in our home.”

‘Passport babies’ growing problem in Canada

By Barry Ellsworth

TRENTON, Canada (AA) – A former high-ranking Canadian immigration official said “passport babies” – where infants are born to foreign mothers visiting Canada – is a growing problem, Canadian media reported Tuesday.

Some who are pregnant enter Canada coinciding with their due date, because a child born on Canadian soil is automatically awarded Canadian citizenship, regardless of the citizenship of the mother.

“It is basically using fraud to get citizenship for a child,” former Director General at Citizenship and Immigration, Andrew Griffith, told media. “People are coming on a visa under false pretences and just coming for the opportunity to provide citizenship for their kid (and) it is a form of fraud and misrepresentation.”

While some say so-called “passport babies” is not a problem, statistics kept on births in the west coast province of British Columbia (B.C.) paint a different picture.

According to the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, in the city of Richmond alone, 22.2 percent of all births, or 469, last year in the Richmond hospital were to non-resident mothers, the majority to Chinese nationals. The previous year the figure was 17.2 percent, or 383. Richmond has a population of about 203,000.

“It’s arguably crowding out (hospital) space and facilities for residents of Canada,” Griffith said. “So, there is a real issue there in Richmond, B.C. and other localities.”

The population of the province is about 4.8 million and 1.4 million are Chinese (2016 figures).

The problem is severe enough that at the Aug. 25 convention of the Conservative Party of Canada – one of Canada’s three major political parties – delegates voted to end the birthright citizenship policy that grants automatic citizenship to babies born within Canada’s boundaries.

Presumably, if Conservatives win the 2019 federal election displacing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, the existing passport babies policy will be ended.

“Ending birth tourism will be among the objectives of our policy,” Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said in a statement.

“Conservatives recognize there are many Canadians who have been born in Canada by parents who have come here to stay and have contributed greatly to our country. I will not end the core policy that facilitates this. Unlike Justin Trudeau, I will safeguard it against abuse.”

4 million people may lose Indian citizenship

By Ahmad Adil and Abdul Gani

NEW DELHI / GUWAHATI, India (AA) – More than 4 million people in the northeastern state of Assam fear they will be stripped off their citizenship after their names were excluded from a list the Indian government published on Monday.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) list is unique to Assam. It was first tabulated in 1951, four years after independence from British rule, to distinguish Indian citizens from illegal migrants from bordering Bangladesh, which was then part of Pakistan.

In 2015, the government began a process of updating the list. The new list includes only those people or their descendants who entered India till midnight of March 24, 1971, when Bangladesh became an independent state.

The first draft of the list published on Monday leaves out 4 million people, said officials.

Most of the people excluded from the list are Muslims, raising fears among the community that they are being targeted unfairly by the Hindu nationalist government.

In order to prevent communal violence the state government has beefed up security.

Authorities have asked people to maintain peace arguing that everyone will get a chance to plead their case.

Addressing a press conference in the state capital Guwahati, Registrar General of India, Sailesh said that the process of filing objections would begin on Aug. 30 and continue till Sept. 30.

Satyendra Garg, a senior Home Ministry official, who was also present at the media briefing, said no one would be sent to detention camps.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal tweeted on Sunday: “I reiterate that no genuine Indian citizen will be devoid of their citizenship rights. So no one should panic after publication of the final draft of NRC…”

Indian Parliament on Monday saw protests by several opposition parties. The parliament’s Raja Sabha, council of states, had to be adjourned twice following uproar by opposition parties over the matter.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh in a statement issued in New Delhi on Monday said: “This is only a draft and not the final NRC."

All India United Democratic Front, a political party which represents the minorities, especially the Muslims, has expressed shock at the outcome.

"At the moment we are appealing to the people to maintain peace and harmony. We are law abiding citizens. But we will definitely approach the court," AIUDF general-secretary Aminul Islam told Anadolu Agency.

Bahrain revokes citizenship of 115 in terror trial

By Mohamed Fahd

MANAMA, Bahrain (AA) – A Bahraini court on Tuesday revoked the citizenship of 115 people on charges of terrorism and espionage.

In a statement, prosecutor Hamad Shahin said the court jailed 53 people for life in prison and 62 others for three years each.

Twenty-three people were acquitted by the court, he said.

The 115 defendants are among a group of 138 people standing trial on terrorism and espionage charges and forming an outlawed group.

Tuesday’s verdicts are still subject to appeal.