BERLIN (Reuters) – With its large Turkish and Syrian communities, Germany offers the prospect of shelter and care to earthquake victims with relatives in the country – but only if they can fulfil existing visa requirements, the foreign ministry said on Monday.
Berlin’s goal is to make it quicker and easier for such people to come to Germany within the existing framework, a ministry spokesperson said.
“Missing passports are of course a problem. Those who have lost everything are unlikely to have a passport, but we cannot simply undermine the passport sovereignty of the Turkish authorities and issue travel documents for foreigners just like that,” the spokesperson told reporters at a regular government news conference in Berlin.
Germany is home to around 2.3 million people of Turkish origin, the largest Turkish diaspora community in the world, according to the Turkish Community in Germany.
Many Syrians came to Germany in 2015, when the country opened its borders to hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Political Cartoons on World Leaders
Interior Minister Nancy Faeser wants to allow earthquake victims entry to Germany “with regular visas that are swiftly issued and valid for three months”, she told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
Turkish people whose passports are buried under rubble are advised to contact the German embassy in Ankara if they want to stay with relatives in Germany, who must assume responsibility for them.
For Syrians, the path to Germany is more difficult. Berlin has no diplomatic ties to Syria, already suffering from more than 11 years of civil war, meaning that people must travel to German embassies in neighbouring countries for visa requests – something which was difficult even before the earthquake struck.
Neither ministry could put a figure on how many Turkish and Syrian people impacted by the quake might want to come to Germany.
(Reporting by Rachel More; Editing by Alex Richardson)
Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.