Ex-minister backs dual nationality in Netherlands

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Dual nationality is not a problem and should not be banned by the government, says former Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin.

“Plural citizenship should not be seen as a conflict but as the acceptance and recognition that people do not have a singular identity,” the Christian Democrat politician said during his inaugural lecture at the University of Amsterdam, marking his appointment as professor of human rights.

Generally speaking, the current Dutch legislation - and government policy - requires immigrants who adopt Dutch nationality to relinquish their original nationality.

Having dual nationality, Mr Hirsch Ballin argued, could in fact be a positive factor. “It should be recognised that plural citizenship and the civil rights that attach to it could be a positive factor in moving from one country to another. Complicated attempts aimed at countering plural citizenship do more harm than good.”

The cabinet’s own proposal regarding dual nationality, Mr Hirsch Ballin posited, shows it is no cause for concern. The proposal, he reminded his audience, fails to mention “any practical problems” arising from having more than one passport.

The newly appointed professor also called on countries which do not yet do so to allow their citizens to relinquish their nationality. Morocco, for example, is among the countries where that is not a legal option. Mr Hirsch Ballin insisted that giving immigrants civil rights, such as the right to vote, is essential to achieve their integration in the countries they move to. Denying them such rights will only worsen their isolation and increase the problems surrounding immigration.

The Christian Democrat politician has always opposed his party’s coalition agreement with Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam Freedom Party, which is a staunch proponent of single nationality.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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