Austrian Vice Chancellor and leader of the populist Freedom Party (FPÖ) Heinz-Christian Strache has proposed halting all citizenship applications for Turks after a court ruling refused to let the government strip the citizenship of dual nationals.
It has been a long debate in Austria not to grant Turks citizenship if they don’t cease to be citizen of Turkey.
After the recent court ruling, Mr Strache said that due to the lack of cooperation from the Turkish government in identifying which Austrian residents also held Turkish citizenship, the Austrian government would be looking to halt all new citizenship ceremonies for Turks, Kronen Zeitung reports.
The move comes after a court ruling earlier this month which sided with a plaintiff who was set to have his Austrian citizenship revoked after being found on a Turkish electoral list which implied he was still a Turkish citizen.
The court ruled that the 2015 voter list used by the FPÖ to identify dual nationals was not completely reliable as the man, who had lived in Austria for 40 years and has had an Austrian passport since 1996, was able to prove he had renounced his citizenship.
The list was the main source of information for the cases against Turkish dual nationals as the FPÖ had previously promised to crack down on those with Turkish citizenships, as renouncing former citizenship is a requirement to gain Austrian citizenship, with few exceptions.
According to Vienna city councillor and member of the Social Democrats (SPÖ) Jürgen Czernohorszky, Vienna alone had a backlog of around 18,000 suspected cases of Turks with dual citizenship based on the 2015 voting list. He noted that in the coming days they would all be informed that the cases against them would be terminated as a result of the court ruling.
“With its findings, the Constitutional Court has clarified that the list submitted by the FPÖ is not suitable proof of the re-acquisition of Turkish citizenship. I am delighted that the Constitutional Court has ruled quickly in this situation, which is burdensome for the persons affected and which threatens their existence,” he said.
While Strache does not have support from the left on the issue, he may have support from his coalition partner, the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
ÖVP Government Coordinator Gernot Blümel said he had met with FPÖ Interior Minister Herbert Kickl on the subject and revealed they “now have all legal options involving the states to consider, this may also involve a suspension of the awarding of Austrian citizenship.”
Both Kurz and Strache have railed against some members of the Turkish community in Austria, particularly supporters of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Following the failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016 which saw Turks take to the streets of Vienna, Kurz told Turks they should be loyal to the countries in which they reside or were free to leave.
Earlier this year, following the Turkish national elections, Mr Strache echoed the remarks of Kurz, saying that anyone who voted for Erdoğan living in Austria “should return to Turkey.”